The U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation: Understanding advisor approaches and client expectations

The vast majority of high net worth (HNW) individuals give to charity, and many feel that philanthropy is an important aspect of their wealth experience. HNW individuals are increasingly relying on professional advisors for support with their charitable activity. However, the philanthropic conversations with and advice provided by their advisors are not always aligned to their needs. Several disconnects between HNW individuals and advisors center on the initiation and substance of their philanthropic discussions. Such discussions can play an important role in an individual’s or family’s wealth experience and have implications for their wealth planning and management. These conversations can also help advisors deepen relationships and grow their businesses by connecting with clients on something truly meaningful to them.

To better understand the extent and dynamics of philanthropic conversations taking place between wealthy individuals and their advisors, U.S. Trust recently partnered with The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) on a study of advisors’ approaches to and HNW clients’ expectations of these discussions.

The following key findings from the study, conducted in August 2013, are based on an online su rvey of a random sample of more than 300 advisors—including wealth advisors, trust and estate attorneys, accountants and other tax professionals—and a random sample of 120 HNW individuals with $3 million or more in investable assets who are actively engaged in charitable giving. The study was conducted by Phoenix Marketing International, an independent market research firm, on behalf of U.S. Trust and TPI, with all data tested for statistical significance at the 95% confidence level.