What financial advisor wouldn't seize an opportunity to discover a client's "passion" -- or to help clients "create a peace" for themselves?

Encouraging planned philanthropy offers both of those possibilities for financial advisors, says Paula Feinberg, a financial advisor and senior vice president for investments at Raymond James & Associates in Dallas. It also can help advisors establish their own role as "the power in the room," she adds.

Philanthropy "is a field of abundance," says Feinberg, who spoke to a roomful of attendees at the Women Advisors Forum in Dallas Wednesday.

And giving may come from a wide variety of client resources -- including time, expertise and social capital as well as direct monetary gifts.


Feinberg recommends starting discussions about giving with clients by asking where their passions lie. She says she tends to tells her own story of a childhood in South and Central America, where she saw poverty firsthand. That background helped her recognize, after she became a widow, the satisfaction she would gain from working with Chiapas International, which provides seed capital to impoverished Latin American women and for which she serves on a Dallas board.

"Philanthropy is very personal," Feinberg emphasizes.

Another way philanthropy helps clients, she says: By establishing a philanthropic plan as part of a broader financial plan, wealthy clients who get approached by multiple charities can "refuse without feeling like a schmuck," she says.

They know that a "no" doesn't mean that they are not giving -- and giving intelligently, she notes.


Meanwhile, philanthropy planning has another advantage for advisors, Feinberg adds -- because an advisor's own philanthropic activities and those of her clients both tend to create engagement and networking opportunities.

By showing up at charity lunches and dinners, an advisor makes connections. But by rolling up her sleeves and participating in a charity's outreach, an advisor shares even more with clients and prospective clients.

Advisors can go even further to help clients' children start to think about giving, Feinberg says, thus forming invaluable multigenerational relationships.

Her favorite tactic: sending birthday cards to her clients' children telling them she has given a gift to a charity in their name. "This is one of the most exciting ways to build your practice," Feinberg says, and it leads to "very deep conversations."

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