A U.S. Trust study found that people want their financial advisors to ask them about charitable giving. In fact, a third of clients surveyed think the topic of charitable giving should be raised in the very first meeting. Yet fewer than half feel their advisors are good at discussing personal or charitable goals with them.
Wondering how to start a conversation about charitable giving with your clients? Or looking to refresh your approach? As part of an ongoing series, we’re asking some of Central New York’s most experienced professional advisors how they “pop the question” about charitable giving to their clients. Hear from Marie Norkett, CFP®, Wealth Advisor, SageView Advisory Group, on how she “pops the question.”
Why do you think it is important to bring up the topic of charitable giving?
Many clients have a desire to do good but sometimes don’t really know where to start. By gently bringing up the topic of philanthropy during client meetings, we can begin to explore their passions for service and giving. This allows for a deeper discussion and understanding of what is important to them and provides options for consideration when discussing how they can make an impact.
How do you learn about your client’s charitable interests?
Many times, clients provide a copy of their tax return for review during our annual or semi annual meetings. In discussing the various aspects of the return, charity becomes an easy subject to broach. If they are currently donating to charities, we discuss the most tax efficient ways of donating. If they are at least age 70 ½ we also discuss Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs). If they have excess assets and little income, we discuss charitable trusts that provide an income stream. If they have excess income, we discuss donor-advised funds and bunching donations for a greater tax deduction.
Charitable interests are also discovered when asking clients what brings fulfillment to their lives. This is always a part of the discussion because comprehensive planning is much more than just considering the investment and financial aspect of someone’s life. The discussions really open up when someone begins talking about what gives them a sense of fulfillment and what is important to them.
At what point(s) in your process do you bring up/revisit the topic of charitable giving?
This is an ongoing discussion and is always a part of our meeting agenda. Even if we don’t specifically discuss charitable giving at each meeting, clients will see it as part of the agenda items and perhaps it will resonate without continued discussion.
What questions or ideas about charitable giving do you find resonate the most with your clients?
I think informing clients of tax efficiencies in their charitable giving is always a welcomed subject. They also like the idea of exploring the pros and cons of charitable giving during their lifetime versus after their passing.
Is there anything else you want to add about helping your clients with their charitable planning?
I would add that just because someone is not interested or ready to delve into charitable planning or giving now, it doesn’t mean that they will never be interested. Everyone has different phases they go through in life and in regard to finances. It may take several gentle conversations at different stages of planning before people become interested in or ready for philanthropy.