Clients of an advanced age may be worried that their way of doing things has become out of date and ineffectual. Use these 15 points to put them at ease.

Most advisors have at least a few older clients. Some feel behind the times and are always being lectured by family members they should get on social media or give up their old ways of doing things.

It is OK for them to stay in their comfort zone. It is also OK for them to make some money while others follow the latest trends.

  1. It is OK…to stick with comfortable technology. Generally speaking, as we get older we reach a comfort level with technology. Your client is happy with email. 85% of Americans aged 65+ use email. 45% of Americans over age 65 use social media. This implies that 40% in the middle might be happy sending emails but don’t see a compelling need to be on Facebook. They have plenty of company.

    Consider: Your client should not be averse to making money from a trend embraced by others. They see their grandchildren glued to their smartphones. Do some of those telecom companies pay decent dividends? Perhaps a total return stock or two might be a good addition to their portfolio. How about technology trends that look like they are here to stay?

  2. It is OK…to resist distributing inheritances early. Some children can be greedy. They drop hints their older relatives “should not be selfish,” waiting until they die before they release money through inheritance. Why not do it now?

    Consider: Bear in mind your client might need that money for themselves, especially if they need long-term care in the future. It is unlikely the greedy relatives will take them in if they are unable to live independently. The annual gift tax exclusion allows them to give away substantial amounts up to $18,000 per individual in 2024. They can be generous while keeping the bulk of their estate intact, in case they need the cash themselves.

  3. It is OK…to not embrace accessing music online. Years ago, “vinyl” was replaced by cassettes, then compact discs and eventually online music from streaming services. The music quality today is considered close to perfect. However, there has been a resurgence in vinyl because the imperfections in the original recordings are thought to add an additional dimension of quality.

    Consider: Regardless of the technology, someone makes money distributing music. Who are those companies? Are they some of the same names who made money when music was only available on vinyl?

  4. It is OK…to resist signing up for subscription services. Cable T.V. introduced us to the idea of paying to watch T.V. programs once broadcast for free. In recent years, many networks have set up pay-to-view subscription platforms. These have not been as profitable as originally thought.

    Consider: Your client has plenty of choices if they are tired of viewing what their cable channels provide. Sites like YouTube, Pluto and Amazon’s Freevee carry plenty of free content.

  5. It is OK…to believe what’s “out” eventually comes back “in.” Twenty years ago, our local auction house struggled to sell furniture from the 1960s and ’70s. No one wanted “that old stuff.” It looked so dated. Today, it is termed “Midcentury Modern” and trendy stores in trendy neighborhoods sell it for trendy prices.

    Consider: If your client keeps “what they’ve got” in good repair, it should still look good in its setting. If their furniture is falling apart, suggest a visit to IKEA. The quality has risen remarkably, the design is excellent and the prices are often reasonable.

  6. It is OK…to keep shopping at the same store, even if you can buy cheaper elsewhere. Loyalty is good. Today, many people look for the lowest price, often online. Advisors have loyal clients who get great service. Merchants who own stores follow the same logic. Suppose you have a favorite wine store and always shop there, even if you pay a little more. When wines in short supply (on allocation) arrive they rarely get put out on shelves. Good customers are often given the opportunity to buy some, as a thank-you for their loyalty.

    Consider: There are listed companies that have been around for 50 years, 100 years or longer. Often their longevity is due to good management and a loyal customer base. These listed companies are often household names. They might be total return stocks too. Which ones does your firm’s research department recommend? Have this conversation with your client.

  7. It is OK…to use supermarket flyers and shop for bargains. Friends and relatives might call you cheap and penny-pinching. They might make fun of your client, but no one wants to overpay and everyone loves a bargain.

    Consider: Who are the companies that based their success on being consistently cheaper than everyone else? Which retail companies are known for consistently good value? Your research department can identify a few. Your client should recognize those names immediately.

  8. It is OK…to always be honest. When we were called stockbrokers, the industry had an expression: “Your word is your bond.” Another expression is “A promise made is a promise kept.” Today some people think going back on your word is OK if it is to your advantage. They assume people have short memories. They don’t.

    Consider: Be true to your word with your clients. Don’t overpromise. Follow-up. If something doesn’t work out, be upfront and give the client the news early. They realize investing involves risk and will appreciate your honesty. They will likely tell others.

  9. It is OK…to generously give to charity. Today, some people approach charity with the attitude, “What’s in it for me?” If the answer is nothing, they keep their wallet closed. There is a lot of generosity within the HNW community. About 85% of wealthy Americans give to charity. This is a segment with whom the advisor should identify.

    Consider: Does your generous older client realize there are other ways to contribute besides writing a check? Gifting stock with long-term capital appreciation can make good sense.

  10. It is OK…to dress well whenever you leave the house. Sometimes relatives make fun of people who “dress up to fly” or wear older clothing styles. If your client is comfortable dressing a certain way, why should they stop? It is important their clothing should be clean and in good repair.

    Consider: As their advisor, always dress professionally when meeting with clients. If you are in a public place and they recognize someone they know, you want to look your best when they introduce you. You want them to be proud of their advisor.

  11. It is OK…to do good things for people without expecting a payoff. It has been said you really know who your friends are when you suffer a setback. If you are seriously ill and out of circulation, it is amazing how quickly people lose touch. This can also happen when someone is suddenly laid off. It can be easy for an advisor to think: “I will get back in touch when she is making money again.” That should not be you.

    Consider: If your client goes out of their way to visit sick friends or be there for the bereaved, recognize them for their good works. They are spending time, a valuable commodity that cannot be replaced. When clients ask about your weekend, tell them about good things you did for people or an organization. You can still keep it anonymous, but they will get the idea.

  12. It is OK…to hold onto stuff until it wears out. We live in a throwaway society. We waste food. The concept of “fast furniture” means we buy inexpensive, mass-produced items we expect to throw away after a few years. Friends might tell your client their living room looks dated or out of fashion, implying they should throw everything out and buy new stuff.

    Consider: Remind them about Lady Mary’s great line about New Money and Old Money, from Downton Abbey. “Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it.”

  13. It is OK…to shop someplace because you like the service. Many people either shop online or seek out the cheapest price provider. They cannot understand why your client will pay more because they are given personalized service. They think your client is old-fashioned. You can guess what airlines these friends prefer.

    Consider: This might be fine for buying gas for your car, but shopping can be a pleasant experience. Let your client know it is OK to have this indulgence if they can afford it. The greatest purveyor of this treatment are the luxury goods brands. You know their names. Many are public companies. What does your research department think about them? Does your client know they can own a piece of them?

  14. It is OK…to show respect, regardless of a person’s role. Some people are rude to people in service roles. If you need confirmation, chat with someone who waits tables. The wealthy are often known for having excellent manners. Insecure people tend to treat others badly, trying to elevate their position.

    Consider: Treat everyone as an equal. When you meet a client for lunch or over drinks, they will take notice and respect you for it.

  15. It is OK…to be the one who makes the effort to keep in touch. We often think: “Why do I always need to pick up the phone?” Sometimes we consider some friends as “professional guests.” They will accept an invitation to your home, but they rarely ask you out. It is easy to think: “Why do I bother?” Your client is always reaching out to other people, keeping in touch.

    Consider: Compliment them on continuously making the effort. As their advisor, you should consider this a referral opportunity. If they are in touch with everyone, they know their news…and problems. From time to time you might ask: “Who do you know that…(problem)?” Someone might come to mind.

Your older clients have spent a lifetime developing comfortable routines. They do not need to stop now.


Apr 2, 2024 / Written By Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, is available on Amazon.