How to Help Clients Age with Dignity
Episode 7219th May 2022 • Human-centric Investing Podcast • Hartford Funds
00:00:00 00:21:57

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Clients sometimes feel they’re a burden to their children—especially when it comes to retirement planning. Patti Brennan discusses how financial professionals can lessen that burden and help open up communication and transparency within the family.

Patti Brennan is not affiliated with Hartford Funds


John Diehl: [:

welcome Patti Brennan and we're going to welcome Patti Brennan, and

the topic is really interesting to me. It's helping to how to help

clients age with dignity. I don't know about you, Julie, but how many

conversations do we have when we're with clients, with advisers where

you know, the conversation goes well past the money? It goes well

past the financial part of the client's life. And we talk about

values and we talk about plans and we talk about really

relationships. And navigating those relationships can be tricky. And

so that's why I'm I'm really looking forward to it. Patti has to

share with our listeners. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:01:16] I agree, John, I know in my own life, my

grandmother passed away just about a year ago to the day, and we

unfortunately didn't engage with some of these conversations and I

certainly wish we had and it made for her last few days - some

challenges in the last few days. So excited to hear Patty's best

d shall we go talk to Patty? [:

John Diehl: [00:01:37] Absolutely. [00:01:37][0.0]

John Diehl: [:

Julie Genjac: [00:00:02] and I'm Julie. [00:00:03][1.3]

John Diehl: [:

human centric investing podcast. [00:00:08][3.4]

Julie Genjac: [:

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: [:

Patti Brennan. Patti is a graduate of Georgetown University. She's a

certified financial planner and CEO of Key Financial Inc.. Patti not

only provides comprehensive wealth management, she and her team

create integrated strategies that are unique for each client. Patti

is not just the number crunchers she is 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.

Patti's consistently ranked year after year is one of America's top

financial advisers. As a wife and mother of four children, Patti's

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 means to be an

entrepreneur. Patti is a believer in giving back and currently

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

Royal, the Royal Alliance Academy and Imani Advisory. Patti has

served the community over the years in a variety of ways, including

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

Retirement Planning Committee, the Chester County Hospital

Foundation's Investment Committee, the Chester County Economic

Development Council, Southeastern Pennsylvania 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 a field hockey and lacrosse coach. Patti, welcome to the

podcast! [:

Patti Brennan: [00:10:04] Thank you so much, John, and thanks to all

of you who are tuned in today. We're really looking forward to

information for all of you. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:10:14] Well, Patty, I think this is going to be a

very interesting topic, and I know that you've spent a lot of time

cultivating your approach around how to help your clients age with

dignity. But more specifically, opening up communication lines and

the transparency within a family. I know oftentimes, and I'm sure

those listening today can relate to this, that clients sometimes feel

like they're a burden to their adult children. You know what happens

if they get sick? How will their children face that reality? And I

know that you've spent much time with multiple generations of your

clients engaging in these deep and meaningful conversations. But I

think we should kick it off today. Bye bye. The tough part of this?

How do you start these conversations? Obviously, they're very

nuanced. They're very delicate, very emotional. How have you found

the best way to approach this with your clients and their adult

children? And what best practices can you share with us today?


Patti Brennan: [00:11:15] It's it's all of this is it's a really good

question. You know, I often talk about retirement planning and

financial planning in general, as it's not just about money, it's

about the relationships, it's about having them retire with that

feeling of independence, not just financial independence, but that

that dignity that we all feel when we've got things organized and in

control. And for me, I try to kind of set them up and go through the

different kind of fire drills. If it's a husband and wife, know if

something happened to if one of you died and the other person is

sick. Who would you call? Would you call the kids? Would you call a

neighbor? Just kind of get a feel. Begin opening up those family

dynamics with the idea of we just would want to know so that we could

make those phone calls on your behalf as well. I think, you know, if

it's the parent, you know, to your point, parents don't want their

kids to worry, they don't want to be a burden. But I will tell you,

the kids worry anyway. You know, they're not. They're seeing things

they're saying. Mom and dad begin to, you know, get slower, maybe

lose a little bit of their cognitive sharpness, things of that

nature. And so they're going to worry. And so the more that you can

have an open dialog about these issues, the better because you worry

about things that you don't know whether let's I mean, this is me, I

don't want to create a problem that doesn't exist, right? So if mom

and dad are OK, that's great. If they're not, well, what are you

going to do to what? What's Plan B? Who, who? Who would you call?

What would you want? Then what would you? What would you want them to

do? What are you comfortable with? You know, because they may not

want the kids to help them. So those are the beginning beginnings of

the conversations when it comes to the kids themselves. We had a

meeting yesterday, a couple that was they were in their early 60s.

Parents were still alive and there was something that they said in

the meeting. And just intuitively, I just sort of picked up on and I

said, Well, tell me more about your parents, you know, do you worry

about them? And that's when they opened up and said, Well, we we we

don't know. We don't know if we should be worried about them, and we

don't know if they're going to need our help financially or otherwise

in the future. They just had no idea. And so that opened up a

different conversation in terms of, first of all, acknowledging,

Yeah, it's kind of a glitchy topic. You know, some parents don't they

don't want to share their. Many are in from the older generation and

it's none of it's none of your business. And so, you know, to begin

to at least share and say that the reason I don't I'm not trying to

be grabby mom or dad or both. We're not trying. We're just asking,

you know, in the event that you might need some help you, you might

be perfectly fine and you might have, you know, a lot of money. There

are some practical considerations, though. If you were to get sick,

who's got power of attorney? What bills do you have? How much of it

is automated? What are your passwords and and usernames? And where do

you do your bank? Just because we want to help, we want to make this

as easy and seamless as possible so that you know, you don't get

behind on certain things. So it's always that, you know, as long as

we approach this with that framework of helping wanting to make their

lives easier and not being nosy, you just want to you just in the

event that there is a need, you want to know where to go. Does that

make sense? [:

John Diehl: [00:15:14] Patty, how how often do you use stories in

conjunction with trying to get someone to identify some of these

issues? I I always laugh and share with my team that sometimes when

we're talking about the issues related to longevity and aging will

actually lead off the workshop by saying, Look, this may or may not

be you, but it might be a loved one, could be a parent or a sibling

that may need it. Of course, it's not me, right? But I've got a

friend who probably ought to pay attention to this. But as an

advisor, do you often use stories about maybe people who hadn't

thought about some of these practical issues and kind of the buying

nd that found themselves in? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:15:57] Absolutely, and to be perfectly

transparent. Some of them aren't even my stories, right? I'll hear a

story from somebody else, and I'll preface it by saying I had a

colleague who blankety blank blank because that it is the stories

that resonate with people. In fact, we were talking beforehand and

you were talking about the fast but form and what that felt like when

you realized that your daughter was going to see all of the data

regarding income net worth on her Facebook form. And I thought it was

interesting. I thought you articulated it so perfectly in terms of,

you know, for some people, that's perfectly fine. For others. It may

make them feel uncomfortable, cornered, et cetera. So. To even start

out with a story like that and to say the goal here is not to, I

don't want to make you feel that way, we're just really want to help

its stories are everything. [:

John Diehl: [00:17:00] It really helps. Yeah, I had mentioned that,

you know, in having to fill up fast foods for college scholarships

and things like that. We never made money a big point of discussion

in our family. And yet here we were. It was kind of a surprise to me.

You're laying it bare in front of your children because they're the

ones submitting the form. And Patty, I think what I mentioned to you

is a kind of cornered me, right? It's something I hadn't planned to

talk about, right? We never really sat down to talk about it. But

then Julie shared as well that that led to some new conversations

when she is a student experience the same thing of getting to share

with her parents about things that we might never have shared about.

But I wonder if that fast before wasn't there at the time. Would we

have waited until my 70s or 80s to have those conversations?


Patti Brennan: [00:17:50] You know, what's also interesting about

that is that there are some unintended benefits to having the

conversations a little bit earlier. For example, true story, I wish

we were doing some estate planning and I was talking with my son

because we wanted him to be a trustee in the event that something

happened to one of us. And I was showing him the draw of where I keep

statements and things of that nature. And he looked at something that

I had prepared like 30 years ago, and then I showed him something

that I prepared. And he he basically looked we set out to do all this

like, here's a young man with a young family. And he said, How did

you really do this? And it really it was a rich conversation of,

believe me, we didn't have the money either. We started with nothing.

I was living on a home equity line of credit to pay our mortgage.

Like, talk about feeling some shame here. I am a financial planner

and I'm using debt to pay debt. Not a good strategy, by the way. And

so to share that with him and to say we started off with twenty five

dollars a month and then we bumped it down a hundred. And that was

the first thing. I never had a budget. We never did any of that

stuff, but we just automated everything so that I didn't have to

think about it. I couldn't think about it. And here we are today. And

so that that that conversation of. By the way, you're named in this

document led to a very rich conversation in terms of how to build his

own network. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:19:32] That's a great story, Patty, and I think is

so powerful and you're right, sometimes those situations that we

don't necessarily expect to turn into the deeper, richer

conversations really do. I'm curious what what shape or vision or

image do the conversations that you're helping facilitate among

multiple generations of families look like? Are they usually more of

a one on one with either the parent, the parent or the adult child?

Is it bringing the whole family together to have this? What are some

of those look like just for those financial professionals that maybe

haven't engaged in this type of conversation so they can begin to

wrap their minds around some of the different templates that you've

during these conversations? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:20:19] It's it's usually a one on one

conversation, either with the adult child or the parent, it's one or

the other, not typically both. OK. I'm always cognizant of the fact

that that a lot of times people will do more to avoid pain than to

get something good, right? So you kind of got to put the fear of God.

And I'm a little bit and I and I'm sorry to have to say that, but

sometimes that's the only time you can generate action. So to think

about the unintended consequences of this privacy and this desire to

maintain and keep it all close to the vest, both for the parent as

well as the child, for the parent. If I'm talking to mom and dad, I'm

saying, you know, I understand that this is something that is

important to you, that it's private. And I, I respect that

completely. And I'm also wondering if there's a way that you could

set it up so that if something, if you needed something, that you

could make it really seamless for whoever it might be that could be

stepping in to help you in that time of need. Unfortunately, there is

going to be that time, there's going to be this time if I'm sitting

with a couple, when we're I'm sitting at this conference table with

one of you. That's when this stuff really matters. And the more that

we can involve your, your family, your children to do the things that

you may not be able to do anymore, the better, make it easier because

I've seen a lot of situations where they didn't want to involve

anybody and then they got hit with one of these lottery schemes and

two hundred thousand dollars later, they're wiring money out to

somebody because of a fraud or Amazon. That's the latest one. You

know, the security department from Amazon calls mom and dad, and

somehow they get access to the bank account and and hundreds and

thousands of dollars get sucked right out of the account. Like, these

are the stories. They are true stories. They can happen to anybody.

And as we know, you know, a cognitive decline doesn't happen, like

people don't fall off a cliff and then not recognize their family.

They have good days and they have bad days, and that's when they

become that much more vulnerable. If it's mom and dad, just say, I

don't want you to lose everything because of some crock. So let's

figure out some, some some strategies to make sure that doesn't

happen to you. [:

John Diehl: [00:23:00] Patty, I want to throw you a bit of a

curveball if I can kind of change the narrative a little bit, let it

because I think what we're what we generally imagine is a

relationship where it would be better off if we got mom and daughter

or mom and son dad to get the family together to help one another.

But one of the more painful conversations I remember is an adviser

who said, I have this client and she's widowed. She's a but she has

children and her one son is going to bleed her dry. Right? Just keeps

asking for more money and more money and more money. And as a mother,

she's finding it really difficult to say no as a financial

professional. Do you have a role in that in that conversation? What

would you do if the woman knew that it wasn't going to be good for

her, but just had a lot of trouble saying no to her son? And the

adviser looked at the son and realized that he was kind of being

abusive in terms of the requests that he was making. Are there any

ou put in place for clients? [:

Patti Brennan: [00:24:05] I would just give it to them real. I mean,

it literally. This is our job to protect our clients from that kind

of elder abuse. And it is a form of abuse and call it what it is now.

It's uncomfortable for the parent. I would basically say to the mom,

Make me the bad bad guy. Blame it on me, OK, and say, you cannot do

that anymore. And if it's too difficult for you to do that, let's

take the money out of the bank account. We'll put it in the brokerage

account. Then they can't, then they can't come to. You can basically

look them in the eyes and say, I'm sorry, son, I have two thousand

dollars because that's all you'll have. And frankly, that's all

you'll have left if this keeps up. So what can I do to make it easier

for you to say no? And then if I have the opportunity to talk with

the son, I would say, Hey, listen, I'm Amanda, and I have a fiduciary

obligation to your mom as well as the regulatory authorities, and

they don't like this stuff. So it's really important that you're

going to find another source of capital because, you know, we're

tax. And they may not like, [:

John Diehl: [00:25:20] thanks for that, Heidi. I think what you said

is right, I think being straightforward as you can, regardless of who

likes it, we have an obligation to represent our clients. And so no

I think it's a valuable one. [:

Patti Brennan: [00:25:42] it's really where the relationship comes in

and and everybody listening to this show today, you're listening

because you, you care about your clients and you want to learn more.

And when when you come from a place like that, I already know you're

a great adviser. Your clients are going to appreciate that. They're

going to appreciate the fact that you've got their backs, no matter

who who might be involved. [:

Julie Genjac: [00:26:11] It sounds petty like the the foundation of

this is just being willing to have that. What I like to call a

courageous conversation sometimes with clients and be open and honest

and give that feedback. And I'm I'm sure that that just built such

trust and relationships over multiple generations of families. I'm

curious before we wrap up, have you found that engaging in these

conversations, either with the adult children that are your clients

or vice versa? Have you have have one generation or the other

consolidated assets with you as well after you've taken the time to

help go through these really special conversations with the family?


Patti Brennan: [00:26:54] Yes, I would say it's one of again, the

unintended benefit. Nothing I really intend. And usually that

conversation goes something like, you've taken such great care of my

parents. And as we get into our fifties, in our sixties, in our 70s,

we'd like to maintain have a relationship was with you as well. So

it's just, you know, it is. It's just it's one thing to be. It's one

thing to tell prospects what you do. It's one thing to tell clients

what you do. It's quite another for them to experience it. And then

when they get to get to see how you've taken care of another member

of the family, there is that warm and fuzzy, that level of confidence

that they have just going into the relationship. So yes, that's

definitely happened. [:

John Diehl: [00:27:50] Well, Patty, a couple of tips as we close

today's podcast for for our listeners who have not yet checked out

our Hartford Funds material around a topic called Your Money Story,

there's some real good practical tools that you can use to begin to

understand the family dynamics. And secondly, I want to make sure

everybody knows Patti that you yourself have your own podcast called

the Patti Brennan Show. And if you're looking for that, you can look

at key financial dot com slash podcast and you'll be able to find

episodes. I know oftentimes advisors and financial professionals love

to hear from other financial professionals and want to make sure

everybody knows about your podcast and Patti just on our behalf.

Thanks for joining us today with your insight, as always. So. Always

good to work with you. [:

Patti Brennan: [00:28:39] Thank you both also for your time. I've

loved this, you know, these topics are so important because, you

know, it's not it's not what you're going to hear on CNBC, that's for

sure, right? Thanks to both of you, thanks to all of you who are

listening today, and I hope you all have a great day.


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.