How to Make Financial Planning a Family Affair
Episode 696th April 2022 • Human-centric Investing Podcast • Hartford Funds
00:00:00 00:24:19

Share Episode


Patti Brennan discusses the importance of establishing a bond with the next generation and provides easy steps that financial professionals can use to prepare their clients—and their children—for the future.

Patti Brennan is not affiliated with Hartford Funds


Julie Genjac: [:

speaking with Patti Brennan about the importance or the power in

connecting and educating with clients adult children. Maybe they're

in high school or in college and facing some life decisions as it

pertains to things like leasing or buying a car or paying off a

student loan, or maybe even engaging in their first 401k for their

first job. I know that I remember that day fondly. I brought home the

new hire paperwork for my first job and sat down with my parents and

stared at the blank page and said, What should I fill in here? And I

know I certainly would have valued having a financial professional

that was willing to educate me at that point and help me understand

ng even at a very young age. [:

John Diehl: [00:02:17] It's funny, Julie. My eldest daughter just

acquired her first car payment while the car came along with it,

right? But it took me back. It took me back in my life to that first

new car that I bought, and I remember having to have my mom cosign

for it. Walking out the door, driving home, thinking I just made the

biggest mistake in my life because I'm spending like 25 percent of my

take-home pay on a monthly basis. And and so, yeah, I think these

conversations are important, but it's an interesting conversation for

financial professionals to have about how they handle these

situations. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:02:56] I couldn't agree more. Well, John, let's go

talk to Patti. [:

John Diehl: [00:00:01] Hi, I'm John. [00:00:02][0.8]

Julie Genjac: [:

John Diehl: [00:00:04] We're the hosts of the Hartford Funds

n centric investing podcast. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:00:09] Every other week. We're talking with

inspiring thought leaders to hear their best ideas for how you

can transform your relationships with your clients.


John Diehl: [00:00:19] Let's go.

John Diehl: [:

to the to the podcast. Patti is a graduate of Georgetown University.

She's a certified financial planner and she's CEO of Key Financial

Inc.. Patty not only provides comprehensive wealth management, she

and her team create integrated strategies that are unique for each

client. Patty is not just a number cruncher, she's has the ability to

see the impact of small details in the big picture. And she's known

for communicating complex financial concepts in simple, meaningful

terms. Patty's consistently ranked year after year, one of America's

top financial advisers. As a wife and mother of four children, Patty

has learned to balance the most important job in the world with the

needs of a growing company. Her husband, Ed, also owns a business so

their children have a real understanding of what it's like to be

entrepreneurs. Patty is a believer in giving back and currently

resides resides on the boards of Brandywine Valley YMCA, Cuddle My

Kids, Royal Alliance Advisory and E-money Advisory. Patti has served

her community over the years in a variety of ways, including Chester

County Hospital's main board and former chairwoman of the Retirement

Planning Committee. Chester County Hospital's Foundation Investment

Committee, the Chester County Economic Development Council,

southeastern Pennsylvania's Development Council and the Royal

Alliance Advisory Board. As a former chairwoman, her favorite

positions included her work at St. Agnes as a kindergarten teacher

and field hockey coach and lacrosse coach and Patty. What did you

ever do in your spare time? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:09:00] No such thing when you're in this business,

right? [:

John Diehl: [00:09:04] That's right. [00:09:04][0.3]

Patti Brennan: [:

Julie Genjac: [00:09:14] Thank you, Patti, so much for being here

with us today. We're really excited to dove into the

multigenerational family topic, and what I mean by that is I know

Patti, you shared with us that that many of your clients have said

through the years, Gosh, Patti, I wish I'd met you when I was

younger. I wish I had sat down with you 20 years ago. And I think

oftentimes we can all agree that our clients are looking for someone

to counsel their their children that maybe are still in high school

or in college. They're making some major life decisions or trying to

determine things like Do I buy or lease a car or do I pay off that

student loan and patty? I know you've done such an incredible job of

when you take on a client, you take on their entire family as a

client, and we're excited to learn from you today. Some techniques

and ideas of how our financial professionals that are listening and

can engage with the entire family and truly be that valued resource

to especially the young adults. So thank you again for being here. I

guess to start, can we ask you, how do you engage in this

conversation with your clients in terms of bringing the whole family

to the financial discussion? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:10:29] It's a great question. You know, it

typically in these meetings, you know, one of the most important

things that I want to learn about are the are the finance family

dynamics, and I usually bring up my own family. I'm a mother of four.

Each one of my children is unique in their own right. And then I go

into, you know, I've had a lot of many other families, parents things

of that nature who have basically said, and I'll always paraphrase

it, you know, I think this is so important. I wish we had met and

started this when we were younger and I think about my own children,

but they don't want to listen to me. They don't want to listen to us.

And at that point, and I continue to tell the story, and I just want

you to know that if that ever you know, if if the kids ever have a

question, whether it be their starting their first job and they've

got these benefits, these 401ks feel free to have them give us a

call. I will sit down with them. A member of my team will sit down

with them and we'll go over all of their benefits, their 401ks and

really teach them some of the fundamentals that none of us got when

we were in high school or college. We have an internship program, I

think I've told you guys about. It's a it's an 11 week internship

program for juniors in college. We only have four kids and I call it

the missing semester because this is the stuff that the kids aren't

learning in college and it's basic stuff. What is a 401K? What's a

403 B? What's a mutual fund or and what's this ETF thing? So really

talking about the fundamentals, though, some of the kids know what

some of them don't. And honestly, we like to have a diverse pool of

interns just so that they can get an understanding that this is not

common knowledge. So I talk about those things. I, you know, we bring

up the subject, and a lot of times the parents will say, Wow, will

you really do that? And of course we will. It doesn't take long. It's

an hour of our time. We even met with those same college graduates

and worked on their resumes with them, taught them interviewing

skills. We do mock interview interviews and anybody listening to this

podcast today. You can do that, too. And I'll tell you what, there is

just nothing like. You know, it's one thing when we help our clients,

when we help their children. [:

John Diehl: [00:13:03] Patty, I have one major concern, and that is

if I sent my kids to your internship, I wouldn't get that joy that

every parent gets to gets to see, which is when your child gets their

first real paycheck and they go. Where did all the money go? Taxes?


Patti Brennan: [00:13:19] Yes. Oh, you are so right. You know what? I

can totally relate. In fact, my son is moving out of the house, and

he just literally yesterday had to put his deposit down for his new

apartment. And he came home and he's moaning and groaning. It's like,

Oh my gosh. They took a third of my savings. It's taken me a year to

get that money saved, and a third of it just evaporated into thin

air. And I didn't say a word. I said, You know, yeah, that's the pet.

Of course, the mom and me is thinking, Yeah, welcome to the real

world. They don't want to hear about the real world, right? They just

sometimes they have to experience it. Mm-Hmm. I think what we can

probably do is just make that make it so it's not such a hard

landing. [:

John Diehl: [00:14:08] Well, Patty, from an advisor standpoint, I'll

I'll be the skeptic on the podcast today, which what would you say to

the adviser that says, Hey, look, you know, from time to time, I

help, you know, kids, if the clients say, Hey, can you talk to them?

But but really, I don't get paid. They don't have any assets. They

don't, you know, do I really have the time to spend with them? When

you look at your practice and this is something it sounds like you do

pretty regularly. How do you think about that aspect of serving

serving the client? I mean, let's be right up front. The question is,

what you're doing for them? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:14:46] You don't, and that's got to be OK. The way

that you are getting paid is you've got this amazing annuity and that

is a client for life. OK. This is one of those things you do not for

the money, but because of the bond that you are, you are creating

with the parents and also with the kids. I mean, how many studies

have we all read about the number of children who, you know, when

they inherit the money, they do not stay with their parents advisor.

It's because they don't know who that person is. They only work with

old people. Right? That's not. That's not what we're building here.

And, you know, some of the work that we do. Yes. Well, we're not

going to get paid, you know? It's it's got to be OK with it. That's

my feeling about it. We do just fine in this industry. Thank you. And

and I will also say from a practical perspective, you're not taking

these people on as clients. You're spending an hour giving them tips,

ideas. You everybody is listening today. You can come up with some

tips and things that practical things to get these kids started on

the right foot. A few lessons tidbits. I mean, we don't even think

about it anymore. It's these 10 things. This is what you talk about

me of the kids on their way. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:16:11] Patty, obviously, is the leader of your

team. I'm sure your your time is spread thin and obviously you have

many competing priorities. How have you engaged your broader team in

order to to have these conversations? Or is that a part of your

process? Have you assigned roles and responsibilities to others in

order to be able to engage in these deeper conversations with the

next generation? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:16:36] For me, I can just say it's been much more

informal. There was a point a few years ago where we were thinking,

Gee, this is the future. We should be engaging these young adults,

these young families. And I really honestly push back on that because

that's not practical. We could end up with hundreds, if not a

thousand or more young families. And then the math doesn't work. It's

not a practical business model, from my perspective. Now, having said

that, for existing clients taking care of their children, you know,

this is probably one of the greatest training modules we have. And

that is, for example, and you just kind of give you a feel for my

business model. You've got me. I am the adviser. But underneath me,

I've got a bank of, say, 40 year olds who have been with me for 10 15

years. And underneath them, they are mentoring the bank of 30 year

olds. So for these young families, we are mentoring the 30 year old

and saying, OK, this is your baby. This is how you're going to learn

how to talk to a client. These are the ways that you can present and

let them develop their own style. We'll give them the 10 bullet

points that should be covered in the meeting and let them run with

it, and I found that that's the most effective. I also like to have

someone who might be more senior. For example, I just finished a

meeting earlier today. Someone else ran the meeting, but I was there,

fortunately, was a phone call. I don't really like to be in the room

personally, because if I'm in the room, clients will always kind of

look at me instead of the other person that should be leading the

meeting. But four phone calls or even Zoom appointments. I will turn

off my camera and turn off and mute my my microphone and just listen

in so that I can provide some feedback after the meeting. To that

young advisor. [:

John Diehl: [00:18:45] And, Patty, question I have. So we we kind of

glossed over a few of the topics, but if I were to ask you to kind of

backtrack a little and just lists out for me some of the top topics

that you get requested to talk to these young people on, if you were

to kind of just throw them out there off the top of your head, what

would they be? Sure. [:

Patti Brennan: [00:19:06] You know, the things that come to my mind

are, you know, to encourage the kids to, you know, if it's practical

to live at home for a year or so, get used to the new job and get

used to maybe saving money. Pretend, for example, that they are

paying rent and instead of paying rent, just start to stash that in

that savings account. That's how Jack was able to accrue what he was

able to accrue because he just put it in a separate account. And that

also gets them in the habit of saving. Another thing that to me is a

is kind of a line in the sand is teaching them about the 401k and

explaining to them that, you know, it's going to be different than

their parents and their grandparents. Pensions are going away. So 10

percent is the line in the sand. No ifs, ands or buts. They've got to

sign up as soon as possible and put 10 percent of their income into

the Roth into the 401K. Then I do go into the difference between a

Roth 401k and a regular 401k, and depending on the person in this and

what they had studied and what their goals and objectives are, I'll

probably recommend starting out with the Roth 401K. There's a little

bit of sneaky logic to that also, because just as lifestyle inflation

can impact all of us, it really impacts the kids. You know, like, you

know, thirsty Thursdays can turn into, you know, fanatic Fridays and

saturated Saturdays, and they won't. They're not saving any money. So

it's a kind of a sneaky way of making them pay more taxes now,

reducing their cash flow, their their net cash flow after 401k after

taxes, giving them a little bit less money to live on and helping

them to make again better lifestyle choices. As part of our

internship program, we do they do a financial plan on basically they

do a kind of a mock mock play for us and they have to justify

recommendations. But but basically it's for their first five years

after they graduate from college. And what was interesting this

summer is that this group decided that for Lauren, who was the one

who was graduating and getting the job, that she couldn't afford to

get an apartment by herself, that she was going to have to get a

roommate because between rent, a car payment, car insurance, all the

things that do occur that she couldn't afford as much as she wanted

to, she couldn't afford to live alone. And that was a good choice,

right? So, you know, that's that's the kind of thing we talk about.

percent and they can do:

or if, for example, saving for a down payment on a home is an

important thing that they'd like to do. So get them started on, you

know, a dollar cost averaging automatically yank out of the account

so they don't have to think about it or they don't get to think about

it. Twenty five dollars a month into a mutual fund every month, just

get in the habit of saving money because when they start doing that,

it's going to feel uncomfortable when they have to stop. Right? So

again, that's part of that education and building credit, the

importance of their FICO scores because when they're interviewing for

their first job or their second job or their third job, if they have

a bad FICO score, they're not going to get that wonderful

opportunity. So the importance of their credit rating can't emphasize

it enough. We had a young lady who didn't realize that she had a

student loan and for a couple of years wasn't making payments on the

student loan and her FICO score. She couldn't understand why her

score was so low because she paid her rent on time to pay for car

payment. She just didn't realize it. So it's important it's really

key to make sure that they understand the importance of their credit

rating. So it's those kinds of topics that, you know, mom and dad may

have talked about with them over over their high school years and

college years. But now this is when it really matters.


Julie Genjac: [00:23:40] Patty, I think that's so spot on, and you're

right, something like credit, it's a bit intangible, right? We don't

necessarily hold it or see it or do anything with it, but it's one of

those things that can closed doors in our life before we even realize

it if we don't cultivated and treat it carefully. I'm curious, just

from a scalability standpoint, obviously, you covered a lot of

different topics and all such crucial foundational pieces when one is

starting out in life and sort of building their future retirement

plan. Have you compiled as a team various tools, whether they're

articles or calculators or just resources that makes this process a

little bit more leverageable for your team as opposed to kind of

creating any sort of one off resources, conversation or conversation?


Patti Brennan: [00:24:32] You know, Julie, it's a good question. The

answer is no. I think it's a great idea, though it's a great idea to

just, you know, when this happens, this is what we do. Ironically, we

have that in every other area of this business, whether it be

financial planning, even from the very beginning, everything is

workflow. Everything is automated from the moment that first phone

call comes in. This is what happens next. This is what happens. You

know, second, third, fourth. I'm not even involved in it. And yet

somebody is writing a handwritten letter to that prospect. So these

are the things that just make our our business is scalable. This is

not one area that I've felt the need to scale. But just like

everything else it can be, I would say that for us, it hasn't been to

the point where we have to. I think maybe in a way, in a backdoor

way, it might be OK because again, to me, far more, it's important

for the families. It's important for those kids. For me, what we get

out of it is, is tuition. I mean, it's a great way for young people

to feel more comfortable being in the in the conference room, talking

with clients, no matter how old they are. And you don't, you don't.

They're not going to know until they do it. I often use the metaphor

of, you know, when our kids were 16 years old, right? Learning how to

drive a car, there's just so much they're going to learn in the

passenger seat as much as we do. Read it. And I, as a business owner,

is as the lead advisor. It's like, Oh my goodness, they're meeting

with a client. I hope it's going to be OK. You know what? It's the

same thing. We got to give them the keys to the car. It's the only

way they're going to learn. And so as it relates to this topic, I

think it's a great way for them to learn with less to lose.


John Diehl: [00:26:31] Patty, a quick question for you, and that is a

little bit off the path of education, but as you're working with

these, these young adults, do you ever utilize your network to help

give them job ideas or interview opportunities? I remember our friend

joke offline, saying If you can ever do anything for the child or the

grandchild in terms of even a job interview or putting people

together, is that crossing the line or is that something you would

keep your eyes open for? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:27:02] Oh, absolutely no question about it, I

think just in general, any time you can do that for anybody, you

definitely want to do that. It could be a phone call. It could be an

email. Yes, it's time out of your day. I can't tell you this year

alone how many people I've reached out to on behalf of others. I just

know how much it meant to me and my kids when they were first

starting out, and we are all in a wonderful position of influence.

Even if you don't feel like you have the influence, you'd be

surprised some of the people that you might know. And somebody might

know somebody else might know somebody else. You know, this is a true

story, and it's kind of ironic, I'm telling you. But have you ever

heard the term your nine people away from the pope? Well, let me tell

you something. There is a possibility that when we go to Italy in

May, we just might meet the pope for exactly that same reason. So you

just never, ever know. Right? And so any time you can help those

kids, any time you can help anybody. Absolutely. Again, even if it

doesn't have anything to do with their money, isn't that funny? You

know, it just. But that's the kind of stuff that will keep clients

for life. And honestly, it makes it personally rewarding for me as

well. That's I feel good. At the end of the day, we all do quite

well. Why are we doing this? Why are we? Why aren't we? Why is my

friend laying in bed with a great toenails and I'm still sitting in

front of a computer? Is it because I want to be sitting in a computer

in a beautiful place now? It's because this really is meaningful work

o, and that's how you do it. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:28:47] Absolutely, Patty, will, thank you so much

for sharing those ideas on engaging with the next generation, and I'm

confident you have many very grateful parents and as clients that so

appreciate the guidance that you've given their children and

obviously many very deep and longstanding relationships as a result

of having these conversations so early in life. So thank you for the

guidance and the tips and the tricks. We really appreciate it. And

for your time today and for those of you listening, Patti has a

podcast of her own. It's called the Patti Brennan Show. So wherever

you see your podcasts or seek out that information, be sure to visit

her podcast for more engaging and timely ideas for you to continue to

deepen the relationships and grow your practice on behalf of all of

us at Harper Funds. Thank you again, Patti, for being here with us

today. [:

Patti Brennan: [00:29:36] Thanks to both of you, and thanks to all of

to this today. Thanks again. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:24:37] Thanks for listening to the Hartford Funds.

Human Centric Investing podcast, if you'd like to tune in for more

episodes. Don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts

inkedIn, Twitter or YouTube. [:

John Diehl: [00:24:51] And if you'd like to be a guest and share your

best ideas for transforming client relationships, email us a guest

booking at Hartford Funds dot com. We'd love to hear from you.


Julie Genjac: [00:25:02] Talk to you soon.