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Five ways for advisers to move with the times

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Five ways for advisers to move with the times

As a mammoth generational shift takes place in the world of HNWIs and the baby boomer generation passes wealth to children and grandchildren, Richard Prosser, Group Director and Trusts Service Line Lead draws on discussions from our wealth preservation roundtable to highlight the new set of skills required of advisers.

The baby boomer generation born in the forties, fifties and sixties is widely recognised as the richest generation to have ever lived, and as they now move into retirement and consider succession, a huge bank of wealth stands to pass to their children and grandchildren. For advisers, new skills will be required as they seek to engineer both a smooth handover and then relationships with a wholly different client base.

Recently we brought together senior professionals from the fields of trusts, law, accounting and wealth management to discuss the transfer of assets to the next generation. The importance of strong communication skills and the ability to support the older generation in educating the next about succession was much highlighted. Advisers need to be prepared to innovate when it comes to recommending the type of structures and solutions most appropriate to their clients.

1. Embrace new technologies

As younger HNWIs have matured, technology has become central to the way we build relationships. It plays a very different role in our lives now, compared to that of the baby boomer generation. Advisers must make sure they are up-to-speed with the latest trends.

Michelle Tring, Trust Director at Ocorian, said “We are used to building relationships by picking up the phone, not via emails. We are used to working over the phone or face-to-face, but the next generation don’t necessarily want that, and we need to be sensitive to that, and adapt.”

2. Communicate effectively

Technical expertise will increasingly become a given so the advisers of the future need to be able to help their clients plan early and communicate their vision and wishes. Communication is, and will continue to be the key skill for the advisers of the future – they will need to make sure that they devote sufficient time to client relationships to be able to ask the difficult questions and really understand their clients’ thoughts and needs.

3. Put yourself in their shoes

In order to build intergenerational relationships over time, advisers need to develop empathy, tact, and know when to broach the difficult issues.

Ella Pinnock, Client and Operations Director at Ocorian, said “As advisers we need to understand the things that are important to the next generation, such as making a positive contribution to society, being more risk averse, being spread across different countries and having different upbringings from the founder generation”.

Just as important as having a variety of solutions to draw from in order to find the best fit for the client’s wishes, appetite for risk, and geographic profile, is the ability for an adviser to be innovative when it comes to how they choose to approach the client. The next generation may not want the same formal meeting that might have suited the founder generation.

Matthew Braithwaite, Partner, Wedlake Bell, reflected on the context in which an adviser chooses to engage with their clients, “A formal environment can be quite intimidating to a younger family member who is not used to coming into an office. If you can do something a bit more neutral in a more neutral setting; that is far more beneficial.”

4. Mind the gap!

Rupert Phelps, Partner, Smith and Williamson, spoke of the difference in attitude between founder and inheritor generations, “This is where the preparation, the planning, the governance structures like getting people involved in family assemblies, family councils, work ethic, experience outside the family business can be really helpful.”

Robert Moore, Business Development Director UK with Jersey Finance, said being able to bridge the gap between the generations will be a key skill. “I think it is really key to break down the ‘them and us’ scenarios. I have been to a couple of private banks where they have started hiring younger teams to deal with the next generation, because they are more familiar with the technology and behaviour that those clients are so comfortable with.”

5. Help educate the next generation

Advisers need to identify and address the gaps in knowledge that may be present for the next generation of beneficiaries. When we are talking about education, the younger generation maybe do not feel that they have had the right education to be able to cope with the money that may come their way when the older generation dies. That is increasingly a role that the advisers need to take on.


The wise advisers will embrace new technologies, adapt their communication style, empathise, identify the knowledge gaps, and bring their agility to the fore so that they can facilitate transparency – building a thorough understanding of the settlor’s vision for a handover, communicating that to the beneficiaries and preparing those that stand to inherit so that they are ready to manage the wealth that comes their way.

Our private client business is built on long-term relationships with clients to help them protect, preserve and grow their family wealth. In a fast-changing and sometimes uncertain world our clients trust them to manage their affairs with skill, absolute discretion and a high attention to detail. To find out how we can help you, contact me using my profile below. 

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