Cracking the Code: How to Help Mass Affluent Clients Embrace DIY and Advisor-Assisted Estate Planning

Many financial advisors, particularly those serving clients through credit unions and community banks, face a challenge: how to effectively engage the “mass affluent” market.

These folks have a household income of at least $75,000 and liquid assets of between $100,000 and $1 million. They comprise one-quarter of our nation’s population.

They are the middle class and the sweet spot for financial advisors. Their numbers are significant, and they are primed for advisors to help them build for retirement and end-of-life planning. Effective, efficient estate planning will cement their personal legacy for their loved ones and cherished causes, as well as reduce unnecessary hassles for their families after they pass.

One key to unlocking this market lies in dispelling a common myth: top-shelf financial planning is reserved for the high-net-worth crowd.

You’re in an ideal position to extend your financial institution’s status as a trusted preferred financial institution (PFI) beyond savings and loans into investing and estate planning. And you can combine high tech and high touch by mixing do-it-yourself digital and face-to-face interaction to pull it all together. Let’s discuss how.

The Power of Small Steps in Estate Planning

Think back to the countless times you’ve encountered a client hesitant to begin investing because they don’t believe they have enough to make it worthwhile. You likely countered with the power of compounding interest, demonstrating how even small, regular contributions can grow substantially over time.

The same principles of starting early and building in small increments apply here, also. That begins with dispelling their misconception that estate planning necessitates a complex web of trusts and other legal documents.

The reality is that a fundamental plan—a will, beneficiary designations on accounts, and perhaps a power of attorney—can provide a strong foundation for the mass affluent. And they can accomplish this for a fraction of the cost they might have thought.

Here are some solid steps to follow:

  • Compounding Clarity: Frame estate planning as a way to safeguard their legacy. Just like consistent investments grow over time, a clear plan provides long-term peace of mind for them and their loved ones.

Start by guiding clients through all the people they’d like included in their estate planning. For a basic will, they can assign percentages, and it’s pretty much done. And, within OneDigitalTrust’s platform, your clients can always convert to a custom will or trust later. Custom wills can get very granular into who receives what when the family member passes.

  • Start with the Basics: Highlight the importance of having a will or basic trust, even for those with a seemingly straightforward financial picture. Explain how that ensures their wishes are followed and avoids potential family conflict during a difficult time.
  • Small Steps, Big Impact: Emphasize that simply starting is a crucial first step. As their wealth and life circumstances evolve, they can easily adapt the plan on their own or with your help as their trusted financial advisor. If they convert to a custom will or revocable trust, they can adapt beneficiaries and inheritances as desired.

Digital Tools Empower DIY and Advisor-Assisted Planning

As with banking and investing, technology has revolutionized estate planning, making it more accessible and affordable for the mass affluent. Tools like OneDigitalTrust’s digital estate planning platform empower clients to take control of their wishes while offering valuable opportunities for advisor involvement.

Here’s how these tools can benefit both you and your clients:

  • Client Empowerment: Digital platforms guide clients through creating a basic estate plan, fostering a sense of control and understanding.
  • Increased Accessibility: OneDigitalTrust’s tools are available 24/7, allowing clients to work on their plans at their own pace and convenience.
  • Enhanced Communication: Digital platforms can facilitate communication between you and your clients, allowing for clarification of questions and updates to the plan as needed. Inside our Advisor Portal, financial advisors receive nuggets of vetted advice to share with their clients, making you look sharp and building even more trust that you’re on their side.

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Positioning Yourself as the Trusted Guide

While DIY tools empower clients, it’s crucial to position yourself as the trusted advisor who complements the technology. Here are ways to leverage your expertise:

  • Review and Refine: Offer to review a client’s DIY plan, ensuring it aligns with their specific goals and circumstances.
  • Tax and Legal Nuances: Explain how even a basic plan can benefit from the guidance on tax implications and potential legal complexities.
  • Complexities and Future Needs: Discuss situations where a DIY approach may not suffice, and clients should follow your and OneDigitalTrust’s guidance when the need for more sophisticated planning arises.

Over time, your trusted relationship with your client will build, and based on your experience with them and others, you’ll see opportunities and pitfalls for them that you can then share and advise, creating opportunities for deeper service and upselling.

Unlocking the Mass Affluent Market

Remember, the cornerstone of successful financial planning is building trust and empowering clients to take control of their financial future.

By offering a combination of accessible technology and your expert guidance, you can become their go-to for helping them build, enjoy and then pass on their financial legacy, one well-informed step at a time.

170M Americans need an estate plan. OneDigitalTrust offers a white-label, turnkey estate planning platform with pricing options tailored to the needs of individual credit unions and financial advisors.

Contact us today to learn more!