The reality of this day and age is, unless legacy and estate planners adopt technologies to improve the efficiency and value of their firms, they will not last through this digital generation.
By Scott Huff, Investment Advisor
Everywhere we look, technology is influencing our lives. Cars will soon drive themselves and technology will perform the same jobs we humans once spent years training to do. In recent years, the business world’s dependency on technology has turned from “if” to “when”—making it evident that if we reject these advancements in our own businesses, particularly family law, we will very soon be left in the dust.
Like everything else, law practice and the estate and legacy planning industry have been given a technology facelift. Advancements in technology are allowing family law attorneys to bring a whole new experience to their clients—one which involves efficient and flexible communication, dependable record keeping, and on-demand retrieval of important data. These innovations are not only increasing efficiencies for business owners and attorneys, they are enhancing firms’ most important value proposition: the client relationship.
The Client Onboarding Process
Onboarding of clients is always the first (and most time intensive) part of estate and legacy planning. However, in this day and age, most estate planning professionals still hand out paper forms to collect important client information. In fact, this is what 95% of professionals in the space do. With the wealth of software options currently available to estate planners today, we must ask ourselves: is this the most effective form of onboarding clients or is there a better way?
Estate planning software can be useful to advisors by eliminating paper, gathering valuable data and transcribing it back into a readable and understandable format to decrease the amount of time spent and human error while gathering and sorting through multiple pages. Software that integrates with pre-existing technology solutions such as client relationship management (CRM) tools and portfolio accounting programs can seamlessly import information to give advisors a better look at their client’s overall personal and financial picture.
Redefining Your Value Proposition
Incorporating legacy planning into your clients’ overall estate directive is essential to proving value and building trusted relationships with your clients’ families. By using technology in the legacy planning process, planners can digitize items that tell a personal narrative and are important to the clients’ pasts and their families’ futures—such as photos, messages, letters, family memories and traditions along with an ethical will— in an easily retrievable format, without the possibility of it being destroyed through loss, moisture or fire. The effective use of technology for the legacy planning piece of your business can make your business stand out and offer something truly invaluable to your clients.
A Smooth Transition for Estate Planners
When transitioning a firm to new ownership, family law attorneys depend on the strong client relationships they have built throughout the years to define their overall value and potential for future growth. By digitizing important documents and creating a robust CRM solution, an attorney becomes much less “messy” to potential clients which can allow for an easier transition when the client chooses to leave. Furthermore, technology’s role in strengthening the relationships between the attorney and the clients’ next generation family members is key when evaluating the future value of their firm or business—by storing the appropriate information and giving family peace of mind that their mother or father’s estate plan is in good hands, attorneys decrease the likelihood that children will withdraw the account and go elsewhere should their parents pass away.
The reality of this day and age is, unless estate and legacy planners adopt technologies to improve the efficiency and value of their firms, they will not last through this digital generation. Rely on experts in the field and your professional network to help you do your research and choose the providers that are right for you. Do not believe that it is “too late” or you are “too old” to adapt. The sooner you embrace the learning curve, the sooner your firm – and most importantly, your clients – will reap the benefits.
Scott Huff is the CEO of Yourefolio, an advisor driven software focusing on estate and legacy planning, which he founded in 2012. Huff also serves as an Independent Fiduciary for the United States Department of Labor Employee Benefits Securities Administration and as an investment adviser representative at JK Investment Group. www.yourefolio.com
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