Estate planning to build your book

This inevitable discussion about your client's estate and will could actually generate you, the advisor, more business, says an industry veteran.

Estate planning to build your book
Getting down to the nitty-gritty of a client’s estate can help the financial advisor land new business, according to one industry veteran.

With more than 20 years in the insurance business, Myron Neufeld, president of ERAssure – which provides insurance coverage under the trademark Estate Risk Protection Plan Inc. – outlines key ways an advisor can build their book by tackling that untouchable topic – estate planning and the will.

“One of the things I find surprising is how few financial advisors see the will,” he says. “Many times they don’t ask if one is in place. Most of them don’t know if it is current, nor do they read its contents.”

According to Neufeld – once you get past that ‘awkwardness’ pervasive whenever broaching the topic of death – the estate planning and risk discussion can deepen and lead to a more holistic relationship with the client. With the estate plan and will out on the table, inevitably the beneficiaries – such as children – are introduced – a potential client that should already be on the advisor’s radar, says Nuefeld.

“I find it interesting when an advisor wonders why they didn’t get included in the transfer of wealth when they spent no time building a relationship with the children,” he says. “Well why didn’t they spend time building a relationship? …Because the 30 year olds don’t have any money. They are not of interest to a financial advisor. But they need to be of interest to them.” (continued.)

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Another hot topic is the role of the executor, likely someone the client knows well and trusts implicitly. With this role comes various liabilities and risks, which should be outlined to the client. Protecting this individual through appropriate insurance may be the next step, while this individual could be another client for the advisor down the road, suggests Neufeld.

“…Within that discussion the advisor has an opportunity to open a whole lot of doors that they are not opening with simple asset and liability discussions,” he says. “Any shrewd advisor is going to find opportunities in those discussions that they didn’t know existed for life insurance and for other planning information opportunities.”

It could be construed as a touchy way to generate business, but as Saskatchewan advisor, Kathy Waite, points out, the estate-planning discussion is a necessity and critical to the retirement planning process. The onus is on the advisor to make sure the conversation happens, and that a comprehensive plan is in place, she believes.

“I think it’s really important because it is part of the bigger picture,’ she says. “If you don’t have that conversation, you are really failing them (clients). People don’t need good news all the time, they need the truth.”

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