8 Ways to Prepare for the Great Wealth Transfer

Expect as much as $68 trillion in assets to be included in the Great Wealth Transfer, and the odds are that money is moving to different providers too. How can you prepare?

The Baby Boomer Generation has spent the past several decades experiencing one economic boon after the next, accruing a wealth that, even on the lowest end of estimates, is still a stunning $15 trillion. Many are expecting that number to go as high as $68 trillion.

Just how monolithic is this figure? For a frame of reference, the U.S. gross domestic product is generally right around $20 trillion.

This is going to lead to a seismic shift economy-wide in what many are calling “The Great Wealth Transfer”, and right at the front of that will be financial advisors. This generational handoff over the next 20 to 30 years already has economists speculating rampantly about the impact. And whatever unfolds of it, financial advisors are going to be on the front lines.

If you’re an advisor, this is going to be a two-fold change. One, you’ll need to be ready to walk your clients through estate planning and inheritances at volumes unlike anything we’ve ever encountered. Two, get ready to work long-term with a generation of Millennials who’s spending and financial management habits are unlike anything encountered with previous generations.

If you’re not already preparing for this, start today. Luckily, there are a few common themes emerging that you can begin to address right now to be ready for what’s coming over these next few decades.

1.  Start talking to clients now about estate planning.

Do your clients even know you offer estate planning services? Even if they’re decades away from the inevitable, this is a topic that often requires some encouragement from advisors to make sure families are planning ahead.

On the other side of this, you might have clients who stand to inherit a fair amount of money. Do they know how to navigate life insurance policies? Annuities? IRAs? And don’t forget the taxes.

A lot of this you can cover in your regular conversations with them, but think about email newsletters, social media, and other ways you can share your own insights–and help keep this front of mind and demonstrate your expertise at the same time.

2.  Get to know your clients as people.

It’s amazing what shooting the breeze for a few minutes can uncover. Don’t use your meetings to only talk shop. Learning about your clients lives outside of their investments and savings can lead to not only stronger customer relationships, but tremendous business opportunities.

As cliche as it may seem, you never know when someone is going to learn about a long-lost uncle with a significant sum to give away as an inheritance, which leads to the next point…

3.  Don’t assume you’ll just get those assets.

Let’s say you have a client who has $200,000 with you, but they suddenly inherit $500,000. It seems like you’ve suddenly had a great windfall, but who says that money will transfer to you?

Unless that recently deceased family member also happens to be a client of yours, chances are their financial portfolio is with another advisor, a bank, an attorney–someone else. Whoever is providing that service is going to want to keep those assets.

This is why you need to start working with your clients now, so that they understand why they should invest that inheritance with you.

The good news here is that 80% of the time, those assets are going to move somewhere else, so chances are you will be on the receiving end of that $500,000.

4.  You might not get to keep those assets either.

The bad news is, 80% of the time, those assets are going to move somewhere else.

If you’re working with your clients to prepare to receive inheritances, well, your competitors are doing the same for any inheritances you’re preparing for your own clients to give.

No matter what, you’re going to lose some clients, which is why you need to do what you can to win new ones.

5.  Start cultivating new business.

Only 30% of all adults have any sort of financial plan in place, and this population is about to get a major financial infusion. That means there’s going to be a huge number of new prospects entering the market for the first time.

If you don’t have an up-to-date marketing plan to reach out to and attract these people, get going.

There are some digital marketing quick wins you can do to keep up. An up-to-date website and email newsletter are all but must-haves at this point, and there are some great, affordable, and consumer-friendly options for doing this.

6.  It’s no longer all about the portfolio performance.

This is a big one. For decades, financial advisors have worked with their clients to invest their assets, then let the performance numbers do the talking. That’s not the case anymore, to the point some agencies are looking at a 180-degree pivot in their business strategy to get ready for a new generation of clients with completely different financial habits and expectations for you.

Here’s the scenario:

Advisor A has had a solid portfolio for decades that yields strong results for both them and their clients, serving as the base for their revenue stream.

Advisor B has focused more on consulting clients, teaching them how to budget and spend wisely, operating their business almost as a subscription service.

It’s Advisor B who’s going to grow their client base going forward.

7.  Think like a teacher.

We need to be ready to think more like consultants because we’re looking at a wave of newly wealthy people who are not nearly as experienced with investing or financial management as previous generations.

Many of us dream of what it would be like to buy a dream home or take an exotic vacation. Clients in this position are going to need the coaching around those temptations.

An effective advisor should already be talking to their clients about what they can do now to prepare. And like mentioned before, this is where an email newsletter or social media can serve as an effective tool to share your expertise on these topics, ultimately helping you reach new prospects.

8.  Create financial plans.

Looking back at that stat of only 30% of adults having financial plans, that’s a pretty strong testament to the state of financial literacy.

Those who have a financial plan are going to have an easier time achieving their goals, motivating themselves, and even staying emotionally and mentally healthy, among many other benefits.

As a financial advisor, don’t assume your clients have a plan and are sticking to it.


It looks daunting as we stare at the prospects of having to change our business models to accommodate tens of trillions of dollars suddenly being dispersed to newly wealthy clients. But by taking a few of these basic steps now, you’ll be well prepared for these next few decades.

Because if you’re not willing to take these chances to work differently with your clients, chances are you have a competitor who is.


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