Where else can you add value in estate planning?

Estate planning has become a routine and valued part of the advice offered by financial planners today. As you work with clients particularly on their post-retirement financial planning needs, the questions and attention inevitably turn to what happens with the balance of wealth at death.

Of course the strategies that you advise about don’t commence at that point in the client’s life – they begin now as you advise post retirement structures that enable easier and more tax efficient routes of wealth transfer, use of the Small Gift Exemption and suitable life assurance structures. Some financial planners are also well versed in the use of trusts etc. to further optimise wealth transfer strategies.

While accountants or solicitors may have knowledge in some aspects of these areas, it is the financial planner that really does the heavy lifting when it comes to personal wealth transfer and estate planning. You are the person that your client relies upon most to get the most effective and tax efficient structures in place.

Well-structured estate planning by financial planners used to be a point of differentiation belonging to some advisers. However this has now become more mainstream and expected by clients. So how do you stand out from the crowd now?

One route is to increase the areas that you advise upon or indeed have formal partnerships with other relevant professionals to advise on a broader range of areas around death and “having your affairs in order”. For each of these areas, it’s not enough for it to be a throwaway remark to your client, “Oh by the way you should consider putting XYZ in place”. Instead you should develop material around these areas that will really educate your clients and set out for them the importance of actively following through on your suggestions. The types of areas you might consider include,



It’s very easy to remind every client that they should have a will in place. Everyone knows this, but lots of people don’t know why! Set out for clients the importance of having a will and the actual implications of not having one in place. Potentially use case studies of the difficulties other clients have experienced where wills were not in place and some of the issues that arose. Be the expert that triggers action by your client – to go to their solicitor (or your partnership solicitor) to get a will in place.


Enduring Power of Attorney

Similar to the need for a will, an EPOA is needed in case your client should lose their mental capacity in the future to make sound decisions on their own behalf. Levels of dementia are increasing in line with our ageing population. A client losing their ability to make sound financial decisions could tie their money up and make life very difficult for family members trying to look after them. It also could undermine the execution of intended financial strategies. Again clearly setting out the reasons for effecting an EPOA and also potentially having case studies of where one was / was not in place could add a lot of value to clients. And then point them to a professional who will help them implement your advice.


Bank accounts

Do your client and their spouse / partner have separate bank accounts? Who can sign off on bank transactions for their business? What would happen in the event of the sudden death of the business owner / main bank account holder at home? Situations arise frequently where funds are frozen on death, causing immense hardship to a surviving spouse, family members or indeed difficulties for business partners.

Talk to your clients about how their bank accounts are structured, who has access to them and who can legally access funds in the event of death. Again, rather than this being a throwaway conversation, be in a position to offer structured, written advice to your clients. Again, this may guide them towards their accountant in relation to business bank accounts or to their bank branch to discuss their personal banking arrangements. But you can be the catalyst that gets them thinking about this important area.


Digital footprint

A relatively new area and not one I’m suggesting that you necessarily need to be an expert in, but it is an area that you can get your client thinking about. It may be a conversation that you are guiding them to have with their solicitor or even a trusted friend.

What will happen to their personal email account on their death? What about their Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter / Instagram accounts – will these just remain there? Or will they be closed down and will there be a message posted before doing so? What about being able to access all their photographs and files that are in cloud storage? What about all those other online accounts – who doesn’t have an Amazon account or a Paypal account? Should someone be able to access your phone contacts and get access to your various devices? Where are all of your passwords stored and accessible if so?

Lots of questions that you cannot answer. But these are questions we all need to consider today. Your advice may be as simple as suggesting to clients that they identify a trusted family member / friends who can look after these affairs at the appropriate time.


Estate planning can mean a lot more than financial solutions. Are you ready to expand your conversations around end of life planning?

Why your clients leave you.

A previous article that we wrote about when it’s time to fire a client drew a fair bit of comment… It proved to be a situation that many financial advisers have experienced. However, now it’s time to take a look at the flip side of the coin – when clients leave you.

We’ve set out below some of the reasons that clients might leave you, and what you can do to prevent it happening.


They lose the feeling of love

You are busy, lots of new clients coming through the front door and business is great! However at the same time, you need to guard against existing, valuable clients quietly slipping out the back door. Have a really clear activity plan for all of your valuable clients, making sure that all of them continue to feel the love every year.

Make sure your ongoing support packages are really clear in the eyes of your clients. Manage their expectations on what they can and should expect, and then deliver a quality service time after time. Should they expect an annual face-to-face meeting or will you meet them remotely? Or should they expect an annual meeting at all?


They lose sight of the plan

The development of a financial plan is a big deal for clients. They get a strong sense of direction and can see a pathway to future financial success. If required, this often entails you putting products in place.

It’s so important to recognise that you’ve simply started the client on their financial journey. Your role then becomes one of an ongoing guide; keeping the client on track for future success and ensuring the plan is continually pointing them in the right direction. If you don’t keep the client focused on the plan (and not just the products), they can fall off the path. And this is where you risk losing them.


They don’t believe in the plan

This is a trickier one as you may be sailing along blindly, thinking the client is 100% committed to the plan. It is worth getting positive affirmation from the client that they are happy with the plan, that it comprehensively covers all of their aspirations and concerns and that they are fully satisfied with the proposed strategies and solutions to achieve the plan.

Of course this becomes a lot easier with cashflow planning as the client can see before them the progress they are making, the further progress needed and whether they are on track or not. This clarity builds their financial confidence.

As part of this, it’s also important to recognise that you may be unaware at this point of significant changes in their circumstances. These changes may require big changes to the plan. Those check-in review meetings are so important, to ensure the client and you remain on the same page…


They don’t understand the plan / and or solutions

People don’t like to feel stupid. Some clients may appear to understand everything you tell them, but in fact may be bamboozled by the language and terminology that you use. Be careful that you talk to them as clients, keeping your language simple. Don’t talk to them with language you use with fellow professionals as your client may not understand you. This will undermine their trust in you and rather than appear stupid, they may prefer to deal with someone who they understand and connect better with.


They think the grass is greener elsewhere

Some clients leave because they believe another adviser will get better results for them. If another adviser is developing a better, more comprehensive plan for your client, you’ve got a problem. However if another adviser is promising “better returns”, you need to confront this. Clients can get greedy and blinded when confronted with unrealistic opportunities. You need to constantly remind your clients that you (and other advisers) have no control over markets or timing and that your role is identify a portfolio that reflects their specific needs, and not simply to suggest a portfolio with the highest potential returns (and risk). You need to remind them of the valid expectations they should have and how this relates back to the financial plan.

Some clients will leave anyway. Keep the door open to them – they may return when they recognise the grass was greener elsewhere.


These are just some of the reasons clients leave you. Ongoing, open communication with your valued clients is the key to preventing them slipping out the back door. Getting new clients into your business is hard work, keeping them there requires the same level of energy and attention.