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Clients and the Build Back Better Tax Policy Fog

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What You Need to Know

  • The future of the Build Back Better package is still cloudy.
  • You can talk at length about what is and is not in there.
  • What clients might really need is a sense of confidence in you.

Just recently, I was honored to partner with a former U.S. Department of the Treasury official and congressperson to conduct a national presentation.

The goal was simple. Provide advisors, and more importantly their clients, with certainty in this cloudy tax planning environment.

As we discussed the House version of the recently passed Build Back Better plan, we bent over backwards to explain what was in the bill; the mountain of tax provisions that have been taken out; and what might remain before final passage. It was quite the valiant effort, and we were proud of our efforts.

Yet I left this experience just as acutely aware of something I felt walking into it. Clients still face a certainty challenge.

We were not entirely tone-deaf as we offered a plethora of actionable strategies and solutions that withstand the test of time regardless of a new tax law. We offered the full spectrum of accelerated gifting techniques, spousal lifetime access trusts ideas and split dollar variations, just to name a few.

Yet, a thought endured. Did we help resolve the client uncertainty challenge or did we unknowingly magnify it?

More on this topic

It’s not hard to imagine legal and tax advisors and most importantly their clients engaging in a collective shrug and expressing themselves along the following lines: “How does all this relieve the angst I feel every day, not knowing whether another legislative change awaits me?”

Like seeking the holy grail or pursuing the mythical fountain of youth; many quests, though captivating, are not realistically achieved. In a similar way, attempting to relieve uncertainty through the blunt force of information is destined to fail with todays’ clients.

However, consider this. Even the most cursory look at the best advisors in the business reveals they make no attempt to provide absolute certainty. What they offer is confidence. Rather certainty is earned and rewarded by faith and reliance on the advisors themselves. The best advisors are informed, educated and empowered. But they possess something more valuable. These advisors bring their clients authenticity, competency and personal insight that transcends the academic Cliff Notes of a mere informational provider. In short, clients experience not certainty, but confidence with the top advisors in the business.

As our profession evolves, and we grapple with terms such as best interest, fiduciary, and suitability; the industry will continue to push towards the advisor playing a more pivotal role in their clients lives. This amplified role can be disconcerting and the trends show no sign of this abating soon.

Does uncertainty exist amongst today’s clients? Yes, and today’s advisors are squarely positioned to meet this challenge. A client focused approach can do nothing but elevate this precious dynamic. In the end, that’s the only the type of certainty that counts!


Andrew Rinn Andrew Rinn, vice president of advanced solutions and design at Ameritas.