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Break the Habit: Digital Estate Planning as an Essential Tool and Differentiator

The time and complexities involved in providing estate planning have long made it an outlier as a service. Investment advisors and wealth managers at traditional credit unions, banks, insurers and other financial services providers have been relegated to the sidelines as they refer their clients, customers and members to attorneys, as is the typical practice.

That practice, however, is changing as financial services continue to rapidly evolve in the digital world. Your organization will no longer have to pass your consumers—as well as the income they can generate—on to lawyers, keeping you from deepening those relationships.

Virtual estate planning platforms have been hard at work, developing their digital muscles, eradicating the need for attorneys, and even in-person servicing if an individual chooses. Empower your firm to break the habit of making third-party referrals and to deepen the personal touch and value they build with their clients, helping those they serve to navigate their financial lives and plan their legacies more holistically.

A Hybrid Advisor-Client Experience

“A streamlined digital estate planning platform delivered as a hybrid advisor-client experience provides a unique opportunity for advisors to expand their service model, amplify relationship alpha, power retention, and create advisory pathways to the next generation of clients,” a new report from Javelin Advisory Services reads.

Titled “Digital Estate Planning: A New Frontier for RIAs,” the think tank’s report focuses on the power of digitizing the creation and storage of relatively simple but vitally important documents such as wills, revocable trusts, and medical directives. It cites OneDigitalTrust as a leader in creating that new nexus of advancing fintech innovation and growing advisor value, as shown in the illustration below.

Javelin Research found OneDigitalTrust to provide advisors innovation and value.

The Relationship Alpha for The Next Aging Generation

Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States. Those 20-somethings to 40-somethings are digital natives. They’re accustomed to living online – including working, shopping, learning, and banking – but they’re still real, live human beings, naturally, who can benefit from professional guidance and advice through their journeys.

Along with traditional matters such as raising families, forging and maintaining careers, caring for aging relatives, and the vicissitudes of aging, they also find themselves with their own unique set of stressors, as the Javelin report astutely illustrates in this figure below.

Platforms like OneDigitalTrust help to calm financial services providers clients' anxiety, Javelin found.

The “Demographics” section in the above figure includes “increased personal wealth,” among other factors that present an opportunity to RIAs and other financial services providers who can most seamlessly and effectively combine high-tech and high touch for this cohort of adult Americans.

As the report observes, all these factors imply that scaled delivery of personalized solutions points to demand for an enhanced user experience. Digital estate planning combined with direct conversations with clients about this particularly weighty topic helps cement that relationship with the client and potentially with the other stakeholders in the next generation, especially if they, too, join the discussions.

Ultimately, it’s about the effectiveness of advisor-client communication, a significant currency that makes financial advisors more than order-takers in a digital world of cookie-cutter, low- or no-cost options. That’s not a recipe for long-term success.

“The legacy [estate-planning] conversation is emotional, often covering philanthropic and generational aspirations,” the Javelin report observes. It points to this empowering feature in our platform: “OneDigitalTrust, for example, creates a client area where notes can be appended to the system, allowing the client to memorialize and express those aspirations and sentiments for advisors, kids and other beneficiaries.”

Differentiation and Commoditization

That vital communication feature – among others – helps OneDigitalTrust continue to push out the leading edge of humanizing digital estate planning and, most critically, the ability for advisors to differentiate themselves in the uber-competitive fintech world.

OneDigitalTrust, as the Javelin report observes, is also out front with integrating personal financial data into its platforms. That gives financial services providers the ability to wade through multi-party, multi-platform morass to add even more value.

Financial services providers are keenly aware of the commoditization of their products and services and the need to differentiate. A robust foundation for that is personal service that uses digital products to help leverage meaningful conversations around the unique access financial planners have to their clients’ assets.

That conversation should include how to distribute those assets when the time comes without sending that part of the business elsewhere. “Advisors must consider expanding their business model by leveraging digital estate planning solutions,” the Javelin report concludes. “New channels of dialogue are opened with beneficiaries and family members who can become clients and advocate for the advisor’s expertise.”

And that helps the advisor and their employer build their value and legacy.

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!

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Digital Estate Planning Empowers Your Customers to Avoid These 3 Mistakes

Estate planning is a task easily set aside amid the demands of daily life. But life will indeed end, and your customers should have a proper estate plan in place. Even when their assets are modest and require a simple will, it is crucial for every working adult who would like to ensure what happens to their family and their assets after they’re gone.

Only about one-third of all Americans have created a formal estate plan. For the two-thirds who do not have one, that’s a serious problem for them and their families. It is also an opportunity for financial services providers, like wealth managers, financial advisors, credit unions and banks to step up with solutions that combine digital ease and personal touch to make estate planning accessible and affordable for everyone.

Your trusted relationship as a financial services provider gives you the perfect segue to help your customers and members avoid some estate planning mistakes that can cause their loved ones stress, conflict, expenses and other headaches down the road.

Here are three mistakes you can help your customers/members avoid:

1. Not Having an Estate Plan 

The biggest mistake – and most common – is doing nothing. About two-thirds of Americans do not have an estate plan, such as a will or trust. Without a legally valid estate plan, state intestacy laws require assets to be distributed by a probate court.

That costs time and money and heightens already frayed feelings. Family members and others with claims can tie things up over what others might consider surprisingly small amounts. Help your members and customers avoid that situation.

Also, not having a will can leave the court to decide about guardianship for minor children. A will or trust will establish the parents’ desires for who should continue caring for their children should they pass while the children are still minors.

2. Not Keeping Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date

Things happen. Customer and members’ life changes like marriage, divorce, new children and stepchildren, and changes in income and assets can change how a person wants their estate handled.

But wills are easy to set and forget, never revisited until it’s time for their execution. To ensure the plans are current, estate documents should be reviewed every couple of years or so and after significant life events.

A plan based on outdated wishes can lead to disputes between family members down the line. Offering estate planning documents that are easy to update will help keep your customers and members’ plans current and smooth out what could be a bumpy process.

3. Not Communicating the Estate Plan

Conversations about estates are always challenging, but they are ones we must encourage as responsible financial services providers. They are fraught with potential hard feelings about who gets what, of course, not to mention the difficulty of recognizing the eventual loss of a parent while both parent and child are very much alive. Not fun.

However, these conversations are essential for holistic financial wellness. Loved ones need to know what to do when that time comes. They should have access to critical documents and open conversations to avoid any confusion. That includes ensuring the documents remain up to date.

How Digital Estate Planning Can Create Winning Outcomes

As a trusted financial services provider, you can offer your customers and members digital estate planning solutions like OneDigitalTrust. We’ve built a robust platform that allows end users to create wills, trusts, power of attorney, healthcare directives and much more. Users truly appreciate the document tracking capabilities and digital vault for organizing the process and storing the documents.

Meanwhile, you are provided access to real-time, smart analytics to deepen relationships with customers and generate a new source of non-interest income. And because our platform is white labeled, you can offer it under your brand, and users know your organization is there to care for them and their families.

Many estate planning mistakes occur due to a lack of education and proper guidance, fear of acknowledging our human mortality, and consumers’ expectations of the cost of estate planning. OneDigitalTrust removes the lawyer from the equation, making creating legally valid estate planning documents much more affordable. We help you make it easy for the mass affluent to access compliant, responsible, plain-language estate planning. Integrating a trusted solution like OneDigitalTrust can help those who trust you achieve and maintain peace of mind around what can be such a sensitive and complicated subject, one all too easy to ignore otherwise.

170M Americans need an estate plan. OneDigitalTrust offers a white-label, turnkey estate planning platform with pricing options tailored to the needs of individual banks, credit unions, financial advisors, wealth managers, insurance companies, HR benefits providers and more.

Contact us today to learn more!

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Blog INSIGHTS

Finding Opportunity in 2024’s Challenges to Non-Interest Income

Through years of falling interest rates that dramatically compressed net interest margins, credit unions and banks learned to lean into non-interest income to keep the balance sheet, well, balanced.

Debit and ATM transaction fees and overdraft and Not Sufficient Funds (NSF) charges have become particularly important, especially as account maintenance fees such as monthly service charges and minimum balance penalties have lost popularity for competitive reasons and consumer disdain.

Regulatory and legislative actions, however, could sharply impact that cash flow and strategy as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) moves forward on its proposal to eliminate so-called “junk fees,” which includes overdraft fees, and a bid to reduce interchange fees is before Congress again.

Meanwhile, the potential for predictable, stable, and increasing non-interest income (NII) continues to grow. In this regard, offering customers and members access to an enterprise-grade digital estate planning platform can serve both – promote personal financial wellness while also producing a remarkable, new NII revenue stream. 

But first, here’s a bit more on the regulatory and legislative front as 2024 begins to roll out.

CFPB and overdraft fees

The CFPB is expected to issue a final rule soon that could accelerate the decline of overdraft and NSF income, which are already about half of what they were industry-wide before the pandemic.

The new rule is expected to say that overdraft fees should be considered finance charges under Regulation Z. That could result in regulators such as the FDIC, OCC and NCUA tightening the rules on the number of times an overdraft or NSF transaction can occur and how much a bank or credit union can charge.

Recent fines totaling hundreds of millions of dollars against mega banks all the way down to smaller banks and credit unions for their NSF and overdraft protections also point to the need for diversifying non-interest income.

The interchange fee fight continues

Congress again has before it two bills aimed at lowering the interchange fees that banks, credit unions and the card processing networks share for their role in card transactions.

Proponents, led by retailers and consumer advocates, say the Debit Interchange and Price Competition Act and the Credit Card Competition Act would benefit consumers by allowing greater competition in the payment card network space.

Opponents, led by the financial services industry, say expecting any savings for consumers is unrealistic and that the changes would make it more difficult for issuers to fund rewards programs and for smaller issuers to offer credit cards at all.

This legislative tug-of-war has been going on for years, and whether these changes finally make it through either chamber, much less to the president’s desk, is an open question.

The bottom line about these possible changes is that credit unions and banks need to prepare for potential revenue loss by diversifying further with other fee-based services, especially those that may be less volatile in such a shifting legislative and regulatory landscape.

Diversify non-interest income with estate planning

Now is the time to consider offering digital estate planning documents through a turnkey platform for consumers’ holistic financial well-being, as well as your bank or credit union’s revenue diversification. It’s a win-win strategy for serving an aging population: Families get the peace of mind that comes with legally valid estate documents from a trusted provider, while the provider benefits from the recurring fee income and deeper customer and member engagement and loyalty.

Further, that demonstrated commitment to your customers’ financial well-being also opens the door for successfully offering asset protection, wealth management and other personalized, value-added solutions.

An ideal way to begin is with a white-label digital platform that meets the expectations of your most tech-savvy consumers without the integration and maintenance challenges of doing such work in-house. OneDigitalTrust’s platform also integrates directly into a financial institution’s digital banking platform, making access and usage even more seamless and easy for consumers.

The coming year could be a pivotal juncture for banks and credit unions regarding overdrafts, NSF fees and interchange income. Deploying seamlessly integrated digital will and trust services is a wise investment your institution can make in the growth and financial well-being of your business and, as crucially, that of the families and individuals you serve.

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, banks and financial advisors.

Contact us today to learn more!