Modernizing Estate Planning for Financial Advisors

Having a holistic financial business model and product/servicing offering can be a very competitive and engaging way to grow your business, but it requires you to become “proficient” in areas beyond investment management, like estate planning. Becoming the primary point of contact for client needs and goals squarely positions you to be able to differentiate and place yourself in the minds of prospects and clients, not just as an investment manager but as a wide-ranging trusted advisor.

This holistic wealth management approach may seem daunting to many advisors, but it does not entail becoming an “expert” in all things financial. However, it does require an advisor to strategically and proactively re-structure their business, value proposition, and strategic partnerships to be ready to offer guidance on a broader scope of client financial needs.

The good news is that FinTech companies have been hard at work using technology to build efficient and engaging end-to-end platforms around key areas of High Net Worth and mass affluent needs like charitable giving, alternative investments, and estate planning. These tech-enabled platforms are specifically designed for financial advisors to offer easy, modernized pathways and streamlined methods to access solutions and needed resources keeping the advisor in the center of the process.

To better explore how these platforms are being specifically designed to leverage financial advisor capabilities, we reached out to Institute member Mike Thurman, a former financial advisor and co-Founder of White Glove — a marketing company that specializes in lead-generating educational workshops, lead nurturing, and client engagement solutions for growth-minded financial professionals. White Glove recently teamed up with Estate Guru to launch Estate Planning in a Box, providing end-to-end estate planning services for advisor clients that produce estate plans and documents on demand in cooperation with a nationwide network of estate planning attorneys. We asked them questions on how they developed Estate Planning in a Box for advisors so they can confidently navigate the fine line between financial and legal advice.

Hortz: What was your motivation for developing Estate Planning in a Box?

Thurman: Recent studies have revealed a concerning fact — over 40% of Baby Boomers have yet to establish estate planning documents to address their personal wishes. While this statistic is disheartening, it comes as no surprise, considering that the topic is often regarded as uncomfortable or even morbid.

Similarly, numerous financial advisors also experience unease when broaching the subject of estate planning, largely due to its perceived complexity. However, adopting such an approach may inadvertently sideline wealth managers from offering a service that holds tremendous potential demand.

As we anticipate trillions of dollars in wealth transitioning between generations within the next two decades, the provision of estate planning services becomes paramount for financial advisors seeking to scale and expand their businesses.

Hortz: What kind of research did you do that helped guide your product development efforts?

Thurman: We knew from our extensive experience in the industry and in the educational seminar business that estate planning is a topic that many advisors hesitate to address. But we also knew it presents an opportunity for advisors to attract and engage with high-net-worth families.

Based on detailed discussions with a wide-cross section of advisors, our research found that advisors are typically more interested in broaching estate planning if they have an attorney to partner with. However, not everyone has the time or resources to independently source a qualified attorney.

Those in-depth advisor conversations were the research we needed to propel our goal to build for our advisor clients a valuable and convenient solution that encompasses all the necessary estate planning resources.

Hortz: How did you develop Estate Planning in a Box to address friction points?

Thurman: Estate Planning in a Box offers financial advisors a streamlined approach to their client's legal and financial planning efforts, establishing them as the primary resource for estate planning needs and enhancing the overall client experience. By utilizing this comprehensive solution, advisors can better understand their clients' financial situations, enabling them to manage risks more effectively.

Moreover, the Estate Guru platform provides access to a vast network of trusted attorneys nationwide allowing advisors to seek guidance and deliver convenient and cost-effective legal documents to their clients.

Hortz: From your experience helping advisors host educational seminars, why are many advisors hesitant to present on estate planning? What mindset do you suggest they adopt?

Thurman: We have noticed two main reasons advisors shy away from hosting estate planning seminars. They either do not have a deep understanding of estate planning and therefore are not comfortable presenting on the topic, or they believe most prospects and clients will not be interested in the subject until much later in life.

However, this belief is not necessarily true, and it is essential for advisors to educate their clients about the importance of taking a proactive approach. We want advisors to recognize that they do not have to be attorneys or legal experts to make estate planning a profitable part of their business.

There is a difference between the strategy and the documents. Advisors already possess a solid understanding of the strategic financial planning side of the process.

Hortz: What tools and resources are available on the platform for advisors? Do you offer them training and client onboarding direction?

Thurman: With our Estate Planning in a Box platform, advisors gain exclusive discounted access to the Estate Guru platform, unlocking a wealth of educational tools and resources along with a one-hour, detailed onboarding session. Additionally, White Glove’s Resource Partner network offers access to comprehensive estate planning resources such as ready-to-use estate planning seminar presentations, expert coaching, and more.

Hortz: Are there any estate planning customer success stories you can share?

Thurman: We have witnessed remarkable success stories, but one, in particular, would be with one of our top advisor hosts who recently ventured into estate planning seminars. Despite initial hesitations, he has exceeded expectations and achieved outstanding results.

His most recent workshop attracted a highly affluent audience, with prospects boasting above-average net worth. Impressively, he secured appointments with 71% of the attendees. Thus far, most appointments have been converted into grateful clients, solving pressing needs, and generating substantial ROI for the advisor.

Despite the hesitations many advisors have in entering this space, achievements like this serve as a testament to the effectiveness of our estate planning seminar approach, estate planning platform, and the immense potential for financial success it offers.

Hortz: Any other advice or recommendations you can offer advisors on incorporating estate planning services into their firm?

Thurman: For advisors who may still have reservations about offering estate-planning services, consider the “multiplier effect.” Estate planning is, by its nature, a family-centric endeavor. When financial advisors work with clients on their estate plans, the potential for capturing other family members as clients grows as well. Creating an estate plan for grandparents will ultimately involve two generations, which presents an easy referral opportunity. One couple could yield up to eight new potential clients.

The estate planning process can be complex and rewarding for clients and their financial advisors. An estate plan is not a one-and-done undertaking and needs to be revisited to ensure it is current. Divorce, marriage, the birth of a child, and other life events can impact the plan’s provisions. Reviewing your clients’ estate plans should be part of every annual client review, at least.

As more financial advisors offer comprehensive planning to meet client demands, it will become more challenging to avoid estate services. Overlooking the growing demand means leaving a potentially lucrative opportunity to your competitors.

Related: A Dynamic Approach to Managing Alternative Investments