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Grow Your Practice by Closing Estate Planning Gaps for Clients

Financial advising isn’t just about what an individual should do with their money while they’re still alive. It’s also about their family and what happens to wealth after an individual passes away. Wills, estate planning, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives are all important things that a financial advisor’s clients should be thinking about, and that means that financial advisors need to think about them as well.  

Today’s guest is Tom Deans. Tom is a professional speaker and the author of two best-selling books that deal with the intergenerational transition of family wealth: Every Family’s Business and Willing Wisdom. Listen to the episode to hear what Tom has to say about why there’s an estate planning gap, how advisors can fill that gap, and what kind of effect the COVID-19 crisis has had on the subject of estate planning.  

Topics Discussed in This Episode:  

  • How Tom became focused on the issue of estate planning (3:37)
  • Why Canada has an intergenerational wealth issue (6:10)
  • How advisors can fill the estate planning gap and provide advice to their high net-worth clients (12:01)
  • What Tom has noticed about the culture of families that transfer wealth successfully (15:16)
  • What is The Willing Wisdom Index (23:09)
  • Whether there are any trends over the last few months related to COVID-19 (26:57)

Links and Resources: 

For a free software trial: [email protected] 

Call Tom: (519) 938-2069 

Willing Wisdom 

Quotes From the Show: 

“Estate planning isn’t just about answering the question ‘Who gets my stuff when I’m dead?’ There’s a whole part of estate planning that’s very much about the living.” 

“A will is like an MRI for a doctor – the will and a conversation about a will reveals everything.”

“Wealth has always been about family and family relationships.”

Tom provides a unique perspective from outside of the traditional financial planning industry at how advisors can grow into an untraditional niche. His many successes in publicizing the issues facing intergenerational wealth position him to provide insight to all advisors on how they can grow their business by opening discussions on estate planning with their clients.

Below, we will be discussing three key ideas from today’s episode: 

  • The Biggest Problem Facing the Transfer of Intergenerational Wealth 
  • What Successful Advisors Are Doing Right With Estate Planning
  • How to Use Estate Planning Software as a Sales Funnel

To listen to the full episode, use the audio player at the top of this page, or find us on iTunes or Stitcher.

The Biggest Problem Facing the Transfer of Intergenerational Wealth 

In Canada today, many advisors are seeing more and more clients that are a part of the first generation in their family that faces dying before they can spend all of the money they have earned. As people accumulate wealth that has the potential to be intergenerational, one problem stands out amongst the rest: 12.5 million Canadians do not have legal wills as a part of their estate plan. 

It isn’t just low-income Canadians who are missing this key component of their financial plan; high net-worth individuals are coming up short too, putting their family’s wellbeing at risk once they pass away. If a person dies without a will, their province will use a unique formula to distribute their assets to their surviving relatives. Even if the family wishes to divide the property according to provincial law – which is rarely the case, having a will in place will reduce delays and expenses. If not having a will has such a negative impact on the ones closest to them, why do so many people not have one?

Why are Canadians Not Making Wills?

There are a few different reasons Tom provides to answer this question. The first is that many estate planning professionals have abandoned the practice of writing wills for more lucrative alternatives. With DIY will writing kits becoming more popular and more affordable, many lawyers have abandoned will writing for estate litigation. 

Not only is it harder and harder to find a will writing professional, but many people have superstitions around writing a will, finding the topic too morbid to discuss. With several first-generation clients not seeing their parents set an example by writing a will, it is left off of their list of priorities as well. 

For financial advisors, this leaves a corner of the market wide open for them. With nearly a third of Canadians not having a will, and the majority of people who do having less than perfect ones, financial planners are set up to take advantage of the market. As Tom puts it, “What is a more valuable role for an advisor to add value to a client relationship in than an area that every other professional has largely walked away from?”

Hint: Interested in learning more about intergenerational wealth transfers? Check out Episode 47 with Cindy Radu, where we discuss how to increase the odds of successfully transitioning wealth. 

What Successful Advisors are Doing Right with Estate Planning

If you are a financial advisor considering adding estate planning to your services, you may be wondering how to approach it. Tom points to the successes of American and European advisors in the space who have one thing in common: they have positioned themselves to be central to an entire family’s success. 

The main way to do this is to organize quarterly or yearly family meetings that cultivate a more formal approach to familial wealth preservation. Many people shy away from having these necessary financial discussions out of the fear of it causing family rifts. When an advisor acts as a facilitator for these discussions, resourcing solutions to the issues brought up and delivering them in these meetings, they become much more than a financial planner. They are set up to become a central part of the family’s financial success for generations to come. 

Tom points out that if an advisor is not offering this service, it is highly likely that their competitors are. In many cases, older clients are not as concerned with the amount of money an advisor has generated for them as they are knowing how they will be taken care of as they age. Offering this service could mean the difference between a client choosing your firm over your competition’s. 

The other main piece of advice Tom offers advisors is to make sure they have their own will locked down. If a financial planner does not have a will of their own, how can they successfully advise their clients on how to structure one? Tom suggests going over your own will and taking note of the questions that come up naturally for you. Who will care for you if you become incapacitated? How will your assets be divided amongst your children once you die? These are the same questions you can assist your clients with to form a long-term relationship. 

How to Use Estate Planning Software as a Sales Funnel 

Tom’s estate planning software, The Willing Wisdom Index, gives advisors the unique opportunity to simultaneously get automated data about an individual’s existing estate plan and to use it as a sales tool to lock down a potential client. 

The software works by creating an email that a financial planner can send out to a potential client or post on their social media channels. The prospect will then complete the questionnaire attached to the email, which will populate a robust report on the state of their estate plan. The report includes a general score out of 100, information on how their estate plan measures up to their peers, and a list of key areas they need to improve on. 

With this report, advisors have their foot in the door to suggest their assistance in closing the gaps in a person’s estate plan. By opening up a conversation about the topic using this software, the advisors are able to capitalize on this market that has been left open by other professionals.   

Hint: Interested in this software? Email Tom at [email protected] for a free demo and to get more information.

To learn more about how Tom got into the industry, how his books gained popularity, and the trends he sees emerging from the current pandemic, listen to the full episode. You can check it out at the top of the page, or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to ensure you never miss an episode.