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Reaping The Benefits Of A Peer-To-Peer Client Network - Threshold Group

Harriet Davies, Editor - Family Wealth Report, 26 March 2012

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It’s often said that the key to developing lasting relationships with clients is to truly understand their goals and challenges. But how do you create the right environment – making clients feel comfortable and secure – for those topics to come to light?

It’s often said that the key to developing lasting relationships with clients is to truly understand their goals and challenges. But how do you create the right environment – making clients feel comfortable and secure – for those topics to come to light?

One firm, the Washington-based multi-family office Threshold Group, thinks it has found a helpful approach: launching a peer-to-peer forum for its clients. Leading the effort is Kristen Bauer, senior managing director at the firm. 

The program includes a new forum called The Community Square which launches this fall with an event in Chicago, IL. The Community Square is an extension of other client-networking programs that have been under way at the firm, such as The Parenting Community. 

“Our clients don’t always have the answer to the burning questions in their mind,” Bauer tells Family Wealth Report. In fact, she goes on to explain, wealthy figure-heads can feel isolated in their position.

“These families will often be a pillar in the community and people will look at them and say, ‘how can they have any problems?’” says Bauer.

It is hard, then, for them to let their guard down and admit what may appear like weaknesses, such as cracks in their plans or in their familial relations.

“It allows us deeper insight into what our clients are thinking and feeling,” she says.

One of the insights to come out of this approach for Threshold is how important the conversation about legacy goals is. She says that while “every family is different,” the families the firm works with tend to take the concept of stewardship “very seriously.”

Parenting is another wide concern. Bauer finds that parents worry about raising children that are happy, confident and responsible, and wealth often “magnifies” these challenges.

But the biggest surprise was just how much clients benefited from interacting with one another, says Bauer. “The interaction between our clients created an atmosphere of almost magic,” she says.

“Families were from all different backgrounds, all different ages, and with different-aged children. Where the wealth came from wasn’t even an issue,” she says, and many felt they “finally” had people who understood them.

One of the most prominent difficulties discussed was when two parents came from different backgrounds - where one partner married into the wealth - how was then best to “come together” and decide how to raise the children, Bauer said.

One of the most important points in this discussion came back to “how they were raised by their parents and how they talked about money,” says Bauer. This point was something that arose from the participants, and it was decided upon as a topic for discussion at the next meeting as they felt it was so important.

To address the issue of interacting with the children of clients, the firm is considering holding sessions for children, and says it is “more than willing to engage in this way depending upon client demand.”

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