Can a financial planner and an estate planner working closely together be a marriage made in heaven? The answer to this question has to be yes from the perspective of your client and from your own firm’s perspective.
But, that is ‘yes’ with a caveat, as long as both elements of the partnership have similar levels of training, ethical standards, and have the client’s interests at the heart of the proposition.
A good professional connection partnership can benefit your business and turnover as much as it can protect a client’s estate.
We currently pass back more than £2m of investment business every month to our partner IFA firms. This is often funds that advisers are unaware that the client has squirreled away and only becomes apparent at the estate planning stage.
As well as the additional income created, many thousands of families have been saved from the potentially devastating effects of intestacy. Others have been able to avoid expensive probate costs, had worries about children losing their inheritance in the event of a second marriage removed and, of course, protected their prized assets from being lost to pay for long term care or Inheritance Tax.
But back to that caveat if I can, and let me expand…. It is important that financial planners develop professional connections with the right type of partner firm so a careful vetting process must take place.
The Will Writing Company was initially founded in 1990 and became founder members of the Institute of Professional Will-Writers, who are committed to driving up standards of training and services within the estate planning industry. All members of the IPW are subject to a strict external examination process as well as a programme of continuing personal development.
But many bodies and organisations do not have such high professional standards and ongoing development requirements. You wouldn’t appoint an accountant to handle your affairs if they couldn’t demonstrate that they were of the required standard would you?
The typical services available through an estate planning partner include wills, power of attorneys, trusts, care cost and IHT planning, pre-paid funeral planning and probate/confirmation.
It is also essential that clients receive accurate advice and information, and that can only truly be done by using specialist legal knowledge based on the law of the land relevant to where the client lives, not by where the financial planner is based. Make sure your professional partners are able to provide the services where your client is located. This is easily over-looked.
Lastly, a word of caution that I’m sure you’ve heard before but possibly not in this context. This warning is based on current trends in your industry and on actual experience….If you don’t look after your clients…somebody else will.
This is evidenced by the increasing number of high street banks and other financial institutions getting in on the act, and by the increasing prominence estate planning has within their plans for customers..
Which poses the question: Which of your clients does not have a relationship with a high street bank or building society? If the answer is that all of them do, then perhaps it’s time to shut the door to potential intruders by facilitating all of their estate planning needs before somebody else does and tries to encroach on the business you already have. Estate planning can be very lucrative for these banks – just as it could be for you.
Tom Gormanly is managing director of The Will Writing Company