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A small gesture turns into a multigenerational relationship
A small gesture turns into a multigenerational relationship

Mar 01 2024 / Round the Table Magazine

A small gesture turns into a multigenerational relationship

From stone-faced skeptic to million-dollar legacy: Building trust and delivering results across generations.

Topics Covered

I received a phone call from a couple who didn’t have an advisor, and the wife asked if I could come over. Her husband was offered a golden handshake early retirement from his company and did not know if he could afford to retire.

We met, and I learned he was working for a large farm chemical company and had a substantial retirement account. I recommended that he roll it over and split half into a guaranteed income annuity and half into a brokerage investment account, as he had a pension as well and didn’t need all the income right away. I also suggested he add life insurance in case something happened to him, so his wife would have adequate income and could pay the taxes on his retirement accounts. He was one of those clients you couldn’t read. During the entire meeting, he kind of sat there stone faced, looked at me and didn’t say much. He didn’t verbally agree with anything I presented, so I left without any affirmation of what he would do.

I normally give prospects a week before following up to allow them to digest what we talked about. He didn’t wait a week. I’m sitting in my office, and here he comes walking in my front door days later with a check made out to our company as a rollover for a half-million dollars. I was totally floored because he gave me no indication during our first meeting about what he wanted to do, and I hadn’t even set up the other account for where it was going to go. Turns out he did agree with me, but he never told me. So, we set up his retirement accounts, and he bought the life insurance.

Going beyond people’s expectations ... helped me establish myself with the family as a person who could guide them.

About eight years later, I got a call at 6 a.m. from his daughter. She told me that her dad passed away from a blood clot and asked, “Is mom going to be OK?” First, I had to shake off the news that her dad died, because he was in his 60s. Then I told her that her mom was going to be fine. Going forward, we transferred the money into a stretch retirement account through an annuity, and we put the life insurance money into investments, so she would have income accessibility that was tax-free money. I also recommended life insurance for the possibility of her passing with large retirement account assets.

She had more than $1 million that had grown through that short period of time, so in case she died, her three sons and daughter would have funds to pay taxes on the inheritance money.

Well, the mom died about eight years ago. I had a little bit of contact, not a lot, with the kids before then. So, I invited them all to my office to talk about what they wanted to do. We ended up passing along more than $1.5 million. Two of the kids took their money and ran. The other two are clients of mine.

I’m doing all the planning for the daughter, who lives in town and is about eight to 10 years from retiring. She still has her quarter-million from the inheritance in the retirement account that we’re stretching, and it keeps going up in value. She also has a half-million dollars that I helped her accumulate from planning with her and her husband.

The son, who lived in Arkansas, was skeptical about me at first. He didn’t know me when his father died, so he didn’t trust me. But his dad had a pickup truck, which was his baby. My son worked for an auto detailer at the time, so I had the dad’s truck detailed, and the family used it as the hearse in the funeral procession. The son was really surprised when I did that, and he’s one of my two clients from the next generation. Now we’re talking about their retirements. Just those little things — going beyond people’s expectations — helped me establish myself with the family as a person who could guide them.

Michael Gaeta is a 11-year MDRT member from Muscatine, Iowa, USA. Contact him at michael.gaeta@prudential.com.