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Published August 19, 2020 by IFA

IFA

Building a referral stream through estate planning

A steady flow of the right kind of client referrals is what every business strives for but how do you differentiate yourself from every other adviser when pitching for that referral arrangement?

The problem

Accountants have always been a great referral source for financial planners however it’s often very difficult to begin a relationship and then develop the level of trust required to provide that ongoing flow of referrals.

From the accountants’ perspective there is a perceived risk associated with referring a client to a financial planner because if something were to go wrong then that can reflect badly on the accountant and they may even get blamed for providing the original referral and perhaps lose their client.

A different approach to client referrals

It makes sense then to approach the referral conversation with an offer that has a potential significant benefit for the accountant (as well as their client) and also mitigates the threat. To offer a comprehensive estate planning facilitation solution is both low risk for the accountant and solves a very real problem that they have with their clients.

Financial planners know well that most clients do not have an appropriate estate plan in place. At best they have a simple Will that was implemented when they started a family and has not been updated since then. Typically their wealth has grown and their circumstances have become more complex. Accountants have the same issue with their clients, who rarely act on the advice that they should see a solicitor to update their Wills and other legal documents.

The problem

Accountants have always been a great referral source for financial planners however it’s often very difficult to begin a relationship and then develop the level of trust required to provide that ongoing flow of referrals.

From the accountants’ perspective there is a perceived risk associated with referring a client to a financial planner because if something were to go wrong then that can reflect badly on the accountant and they may even get blamed for providing the original referral and perhaps lose their client.

A different approach to client referrals

It makes sense then to approach the referral conversation with an offer that has a potential significant benefit for the accountant (as well as their client) and also mitigates the threat. To offer a comprehensive estate planning facilitation solution is both low risk for the accountant and solves a very real problem that they have with their clients.

Financial planners know well that most clients do not have an appropriate estate plan in place. At best they have a simple Will that was implemented when they started a family and has not been updated since then. Typically their wealth has grown and their circumstances have become more complex. Accountants have the same issue with their clients, who rarely act on the advice that they should see a solicitor to update their Wills and other legal documents.

The solution

Astute Estate Planner is a software program that provides financial planners with a simple-to-use, structured process allowing the planner and client to collaborate through a series of easily navigated pages that:

  • Efficiently captures client information; personal details, assets and liabilities, trusts, companies, SMSF and relevant family members
  • Presents this information visually with family tree and entity diagrams showing ownership and control of assets and how they are treated on the death of the client
  • Provides discussion points to determine potential powers of attorney (financial, medical, lifestyle), executors and guardians for minor children
  • Identifies if any beneficiaries require special attention and any potential threats to the estate
  • Determines the client’s wishes for how their assets should be distributed
  • Highlights if there are concerns around asset protection and tax minimisation
  • Visually present various options to achieve their desired outcomes
  • Instantly generates a detailed briefing document that outlines the clients’ situation and estate planning wishes that can then be used to brief a solicitor saving time and money.

The software provides for both simple and complex client scenarios catering for blended families and those that have multiple companies, family trusts or a self-managed super fund. A discussion around testamentary trusts is also catered for.

Virtual or office meetings

The visual nature of the program allows for the entire process to be conducted either in a face-to-face meeting, or in a virtual meeting (screen share) if the client desires.

Once completed the final information can be taken to a solicitor, providing them with a clear brief to work with, alternatively with a few clicks it can be forwarded to one of our online legal partners (Legal Hub, Top Docs Legal, View Legal and Yodal) who can then complete the process through virtual meetings. The client can have the entire process completed without leaving their home.

The feedback from current users of Astute Estate Planner is that their clients really understand what is required and why; and the accountants are very impressed with both the process and the briefing paper document that is auto-generated. Lawyers are impressed as they receive a professional and thorough briefing paper that clearly sets out the clients wishes. Drafting the legal documents is then a simple next step.

Accountants no longer need to worry about their clients having inadequate (or no) estate plan in place and are only too happy to provide ongoing referrals. The adviser has started the client relationship by solving a complicated problem and is then able to identify other areas of advice where they can provide assistance. It is often the case that the financial adviser refers the clients back to the accountant for additional accounting work required.