We’ve all seen the stats about aging baby boomers and heard the stories about clients dealing with the death, cognitive decline, or another serious diagnosis. Although these kinds of difficult transitions go hand-in-hand with an aging clientele, baby boomers don’t have the corner on grief and loss.
In fact, it is even more crucial for advisors with predominantly Gen X and Gen Y clients and colleagues to become adept at grief support. Losses and transitions happen throughout life, not just when people are old.
Remember that grief is triggered by any break in attachment. In other words, any life transition. So a client or a client’s child will grieve when they go to college, break up with a significant other, don’t make the sports team or get knocked out of a competition earlier than hoped, have a pet die, lose a job or get hired for a new one, get married, move to another part of the country, and so much more.
In addition, over 1/3 of college students are within two years of the death of a family member or friend, and just over 30% of college students experience a death each year. This figure has always been partly due to accidents, but is increasingly due to the rise in suicide rates and opioid overdoses. It is not just elderly parents or grandparents who die; it is too often classmates, friends, or siblings.
As advisors, ignoring these facts serves no one. Acknowledging and addressing them places you front and center with your clients as the go-to resource for the entire family, not just the parents. So what do you do?
Consider developing a program for your clients’ teen-age kids. Then hold a one-hour session on financial literacy periodically and invite the high-school-aged children and grandchildren of all your clients. (Need more than information to attract them? Try pizza. It seems to be the Universal Attractant for teens!) Cover how to set up a budget, the facts about compound interest and how that affects both student loans and savings programs. Talk about accounts to begin putting money aside now, and teach them how to use the Wolfram Alpha Retirement Calculator. The quants in your crowd will especially love it, and best of all, it's an app. What’s not to like?
Then include a brief segment on the grief. Acknowledge the many grief triggers, and the fact that so few people learn how to help themselves or each other get through it. Consider giving them the Corgenius book “A Friend Indeed: Help Those You Love When They Grieve,” telling them to keep it with them so they know what to say and do when a friend is going through a loss or transition. (Of course, it will also help them in their own grief, but it’s easier to put the focus on what is often so important for young people – helping their friends.) Among others, inform them of camps and weekends such as the Young Adult Grief Camps, which are specifically intended for ages 18 -22, as well as the many other healing gatherings for various ages that are organized and sponsored by Experience Camps. You can alert them to HealGrief.org, a site created to help college-age adults that is hosted by Actively Moving Forward. Finally, let the teens know they can always come to you with questions. If the questions or situation is non-financial and out of your sphere of expertise, you will help them get the answers they need.
When you learn these skills and more about how to prepare, respond, support, and communicate with people in tough emotional times, you really set yourself apart. You give the impression of being wise beyond your years, you build deep bonds of loyalty, and you serve in ways that so few others can because they've never been taught. You also build personal satisfaction, knowing you are making a difference in other young people's lives.
To hear Amy Florian speak about how to advise clients through challenging times, get your pass for #XYPNLIVE 2019.
About the Author
Amy Florian, CEO of Corgenius, teaches professionals to build strong relationships with clients through all the losses and transitions of life. She is author of over 150 articles and the award-winning books “No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients through the Toughest Times of Life” and “A Friend Indeed: Help Those You Love When They Grieve”. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her ground-breaking work, and has been quoted or featured throughout the financial trade press, including the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and many others. Amy holds a Master’s Degree and is a Fellow in Thanatology. She taught graduate programs for 10 years, has worked with over 2,000 grieving people, and consults with firms, corporations, and individuals internationally.
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