How advisors can benefit from new estate settlement app

Platform set to launch in Canada, offering advisors the chance to 'quarterback' the probate process

How advisors can benefit from new estate settlement app

A new estate settlement and inheritance platform is coming to Canada on a mission to democratize access to tools traditionally enjoyed by only the high-net-worth.

Atticus will launch its Canadian offering on October 1, with an advisor platform currently also being rolled out. On the consumer side, it brings together the 17 professions involved in settling a loved one’s estate, directing them to the right people – including financial advisors – in the relevant jurisdiction.

For the advisor, the platform also allows them to build relationships through the 9-to-12-month process and helping to reduce attrition when assets are passed down to the next generation.

Atticus’ founder and CEO Ben Hopf told WP the company has about 15 potential strategic partners in the U.S. and Canada, and has rapid expansion plans for 2021.

He got the idea for the platform while working as an advisor for some of the top public companies south of the border, including Bank of America, U.S. Trust. He realized a lot of his clientele were high-net-worth but were first generation wealth and didn’t yet qualify for access to the tools the bank offered.

Hopf, therefore, set out an idea to provide these tools to all consumers, by taking them through the process step by step. To build out the product he pulled top talent from industry leaders, such as TurboTax, ServiceNow and Wells Fargo.

Hopf said: “What we’re seeing on the institutional side is alarming numbers of attrition. Advisors are saying the baby boomers are passing and all of that wealth is going with them. There's a 98% chance of losing assets when the second spouse passes and the next generation receives those assets.

“So, when there's no direct ability to engage with these clients because they're not high-net-worth, what is the mass-market approach to keep on capturing those assets?”

He said the advisor dashboard will effectively bridge the relationship between consumers and advisors. An executor whose parents have passed may be dealing with five different accounts with five institutions on top of real estate and mortgage issues. Atticus can bring these together, presenting consolidation and brokerage opportunities for the advisor.

On the retail side, there are huge numbers of people underserved by the banks, who can’t profitably service clients in a fiduciary capacity if they are below the high-net-worth threshold. Instead, it’s a case of “sorry for your loss” as they close the account.

Hopf said: “Atticus empowers and enables the individual to go through the process themselves but we offer that transparent ability for the bank or financial institution to stay engaged throughout the process.

“Throughout, there are ongoing opportunities for the bankers or brokers to engage with the consumers, learn and build relationships, so that when that liquidity event happens and the wealth passes to the next generation, they already have relationships with those heirs.

“It’s effectively a business development tool for advisors to reduce attrition, but to also bring in new assets that were maybe at other institutions where they only had a portion of the entire financial relationship.”

The platform allows the consumer to take pictures to create an asset inventory and syncs all financial accounts, using data aggregation to pull in and track balances live. Transparent reporting allows the advisor, attorneys or family members, for example, to share every part of the process. It enables the advisor to “quarterback” the process and walk the consumer through it.

Canada is Atticus’ first expansion out of the U.S. and Hopf believes the platform has a potentially huge roadmap into nations based off English common law, like U.K, Europe and Australia. 

“The sky's the limit on this,” he said. “From a technology side, it's entirely scalable, even beyond U.S. and Canada. We’re talking to credit unions, banks, broker dealers, even insurance agents that are looking at this with life insurance and annuities.

“We see this as a way to help people who inherit assets and connect them with advisors. They've got money, they have to make financial decisions, where are they going to go? We already have that relationship because we built it during that emotional time period.”