One reason many advisors experience slow growth in their practices is a failure to articulate the wide scope of services they can offer their clients, says Phil Ackers, associate vice president, practice management, with TD Wealth in Toronto.
One area advisors tend to overlook in their discussions with clients, Ackers says, is trust services. Trusts represent an important tool that can help clients in their financial plans.
Trust services were rated third-largest “organic growth opportunity” for advisors in the Economics of Loyalty, a report prepared by Advisor Impact Inc. and the Investment Industry Association of Canada.
“Each and every client has a need for some form of trust expertise or guidance,” Ackers says. “Clients might not have an up-to-date will or power of attorney in place and don’t understand that an advisor can help.”
Ackers offers the following advice to help you take advantage of this growth opportunity by incorporating trust services into your business:
> Use a “family tree” approach
Trusts are often an effective way for families to transfer wealth across generations. So, information about each client’s family is key. Start by asking your client about the structure of his or her family.
For example, does your client have more than one or two children? Or does he or she come from a large family in previous generations?
Ackers says using this method is a natural way to lead into a conversation about trusts.
> Tell your clients
Make sure your clients know that you offer trust services, Ackers says.
“Sit down with [your clients] and tell them exactly what you can do for them,” he says.
It is unlikely that clients will approach you about establishing a corporate executor for their estates. They are more likely to approach you with concerns about how to pass along certain elements of their estate to children, family members or foundations.
That is your opportunity to identify a trust strategy as a solution to the client’s issue.
> Broach the subject during reviews
One way to present your trust services is to bring up the subject during regular portfolio reviews. You can, for example, mention that trusts can be an important estate-planning tool.
“[Advisors] need to be able to provide advice for every aspect of a client’s financial life,” Ackers says. “It isn’t just about maintaining assets but also transferring them.”
> Get educated
While you may not need to become a trust expert, you should learn all you can about trusts, either formally or informally.
For example, the Canadian Securities Institute offers advanced courses on estates and trusts for advisors and wealth managers. As well, you are likely to get some basic training in this area as part of your certified financial planner or personal financial planner designation.
Informally, contact a trust specialist — either within your firm or in your community — to help broaden your knowledge.
“You probably can’t absorb everything on your own,” Ackers says. “So, having expertise at your fingertips is a big key to success.”