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Advisors Need New Estate and Trust Planning Tools as Demand Surges: Survey

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What You Need to Know

  • Technologies that are outdated or missing key functionalities prevent advisors from better managing their clients’ financial plans.
  • Such customer service hurdles can increase client and staff attrition and hurt productivity, efficiency and revenue.
  • Advisors say artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and other tools can help increase client engagement and knowledge of estate and trust planning.

Estate and trust planning are top of mind for high-net-worth clients, according to a new study from Envestnet MoneyGuide. The study also found that advisors need more efficient processes to satisfy their demand.

Twenty-nine percent of surveyed advisors reported that estate and trust planning was one of the top two financial matters their clients were planning for or considering.

Nine in 10 advisors said their clients were proactive, and half said they were highly proactive in managing their estate and trust planning goals. 

Forrester Consulting conducted a survey of 221 U.S. financial advisors in November to gain insights into trust/estate planning for HNW clients.

Hurdles to Better Management

According to the study, outdated technologies impede customer experiences and do not keep up with their estate/trust planning expectations. Not only that, 66% of advisors still use paper-based documentation that software cannot process yet.

Thirty-seven percent of advisors said technologies that are outdated or missing key functionalities are one of the top three hurdles that prevent them from better managing their clients’ financial plans. Thirty-six percent also said technologies can be cumbersome and difficult to learn. 

Another barrier is that clients hesitate to disclose private information, according to a third of advisors — implying that trust is an issue and that clients need to feel a certain level of control, according to the study. Similarly, 32% said market conditions and financial uncertainty leave clients concerned, which further adds strain to their financial planning needs.

These hurdles to better customer service have consequences:

  • Less clarity of client needs.
  • Client attrition.
  • Weaker customer trust.
  • Lower work productivity.
  • Greater work inefficiency.
  • Weaker customer satisfaction.
  • Decreased revenue.
  • Staff attrition.

Improved Toolkit Needed

Advisors know they need to keep pace with client demands and needs around estate and trust planning, according to the study. Asked what types of financial planning tools they lack or do not have enough of, they specified several.

One, smarter technologies. Advisors see artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and other tools as helpful to increasing client engagement and knowledge around estate/trust planning. 

Two, personalized tools. Four in 10 study participants said they look for tailored, automated tools that update based on their clients’ evolving needs and life situations. 

Three, more interactivity and collaboration. Thirty-seven percent of advisors said interactive and collaborative technologies, such as highly intuitive tools and more digital touchpoints, would better help clients achieve their goals.

Several benefits accrue to advisors from incorporating better financial planning tools, including improved customer experience and trust.

A third of participants said having a better understanding of their clients’ needs is a top benefit of using smarter, more personalized tools. This is a key way to earn their trust and gather critical information from them.

Four in 10 advisors said another main benefit of using smarter tools is increased revenue. The study noted that this pairs with greater operational efficiencies via improved digital capabilities — less paper-based work, for example — that save advisors valuable time and drive better customer experience.

(Image: Shutterstock)