When it comes to retirement planning, most clients fail to realize that their children have a significant role to play on their “retirement team.” While addressing their kids’ needs is a core element of most clients’ financial plans, they tend to focus only on education costs and helping their kids achieve independence.

The reality is that clients’ kids can be a significant asset in helping them achieve a secure retirement—but only if they invest early on in teaching their children about critical financial concepts and values.

This challenge can be daunting for clients—after all, one reason they talk to an advisor is to get help deciphering financial concepts! Once clients understand that one of the most effective ways to keep their retirement plans on track is by empowering their kids to live financially fulfilling and independent lives, though, they frequently begin to prioritize financial education.

This can create tremendous opportunities for advisors to strengthen relationships by teaching clients to teach their kids about money. Here are some important tips:

1. Help clients spot opportunities to begin a rapport with their kids about financial topics. Just as married couples can run into problems if they don’t cultivate communication skills around financial issues, parents can run into problems later in life if they don’t involve their children in financial conversations early on.

This does not mean clients should discuss their salaries with their kids or how much they paid for their house. It means they should look for ways to help their children understand the concept of costs in everyday ways, such as letting them hand money to the cashier when the client makes a cash transaction; taking them to the bank to open their own savings account; or sitting with them when the client pays bills online.

2. Encourage clients to help their kids build their own savings—and learn how to use them. Nothing is more empowering for kids than learning that they have the ability to save their own money and make their own spending decisions. In my view, a child’s progress toward building their own savings is an excellent barometer of their overall progress toward financial literacy.

Getting kids to this point, however, involves a number of (sometimes tricky) intermediate steps. These include communicating clearly that clients’ children are expected to earn their own money, first through chores and later through outside jobs; establishing that the client will only buy certain items—such as, for example, a new phone or tablet—if the child contributes a certain percentage; and helping them understand that buying one thing may mean sacrificing something else.

This process can be just as tough on parents as it is on kids, and advisors can help by providing ongoing encouragement and reassurance to their clients.

3. Help clients understand that kids need teachers, not Santa Claus. Many successful clients pride themselves on their ability to give their kids the world; in fact, the desire to be seen as a great provider is often a central—and commendable—driver of their success. Clients need to know, however, that this impulse can actually be harmful to their children if it leads them to shield their kids from important financial concepts and realities.

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