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Advisers: Key to bridging the wills gap

A new Kiwi company is expanding the service profile for advisers while tackling a longstanding problem in New Zealanders’ approach to personal finance and future planning. 

Thursday, February 6th 2020, 11:31AM

Angela Vale

Footprint offers an innovative digital wills service and is collaborating with advisers to start the conversation with clients. 

The urgency of the need is proven by a May 2019 survey of 1,100 New Zealanders which found that only 37% of full-time workers have a will, despite the cost and effort involved having plummeted through digital innovation. 

Footprint CEO Angela Vale says after taking a while to find its feet with advisers, the company has adapted to the necessary levels of service and support. “We have refined our service by bringing in the right people to make sure we deliver on the value proposition. “Our focus is on working with advisers to provide a value-add. They refer clients for wills services as part of their full consultative service across all aspects of financial planning.”

Registered financial adviser Paul de Klerk, principal of Paul de Klerk Financial Advisers Ltd, refers clients to Footprint. To deliver extra value to clients he covers the costs of their wills.

He says, "I think every financial adviser who deals with insurance has a responsibility to bring up the issue of wills. In terms of people's lives, I believe a will is just as valuable as life insurance. All these documents should be analysed and updated together." 

“As a responsible adviser it is up to me to make the introduction to Footprint. I pay for it as a ‘thank you’ to my clients for arranging their insurance with me. For a lot of families, $100 for a will is something they have to budget for, and by meeting the cost I can ensure my clients don't have a qualm about getting a will and don’t procrastinate. I’ve never had any pushback and it helps clients overcome the misconception that they need to take time out of their day and go to a lawyer’s office. In most cases a will can be made online quickly and easily because it’s not a complicated document.”

EASE, ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY 

To lead the adviser support programme Footprint has appointed Emma Richards as sales and service manager. Richards says many advisers are already doing great work in the estate planning arena, and Footprint’s job is to make the work of wills easy for advisers and attractive and affordable for their clients.

“Our aim is to have advisers pre-position our services with clients. Some advisers are among the 81% of Kiwis who don’t necessarily understand estate planning fully, which is understandable as it is a specialist area in its own right, and we are working on that knowledge gap.

"Making a will is not difficult or time-consuming but it is a today conversation, not a retirement conversation. It is part of all the thinking around financial capability, essential financial behaviours and estate planning throughout life. A will has many purposes; one of the main reasons to have one is to protect your loved ones after you are gone. We should be thinking about wills in young adulthood." 

To understand more closely what advisers need, Footprint is currently running a trial with a number of advisers. Vale says more grounding in the challenges facing advisory businesses will only improve the Footprint service.

“We are very experienced with corporates so we know how to make the messaging relevant to people’s lives. We can help advisers cover off FAQs with clients, and our guides and monthly reporting are also comprehensive, so advisers can be confident about quality of advice and meeting obligations to regulators. 

“We already do on-site Learning Labs for our corporate clients on employee benefits, and there could be similar labs in future for advisers that are accredited and count towards their required annual training quota.” 

One of the companies investing in Learning Labs is national hotel group Sudima Hotels, whose chief executive Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala brought in Footprint to upskill employees.

The majority of staff admitted to not having written a will, mostly because they hadn’t had time to get around to it. 

FOOTPRINT LEARNING LABS

Footprint provides its corporate clients with employee Learning Labs either on-site or at a convenient location nearby. Our consultants teach staff all the "need-to-knows", such as: 

  • What is an asset? 
  • What is an estate?
  • Why you need a will and what can happen if you don’t have one.
  • What is an executor and what do they do?
  • What is involved in estate administration, tasks and costs?
  • How to avoid leaving loved ones without access to funds while your estate is being administered.

A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Vale says Footprint is conscious that the advisory market is intensely competitive, and advisers need a point of difference. 

“Incorporating wills as part of the advice programme feeds into the industry’s Code of Conduct. Advisers are also able to secure good rates for clients because we pass discounts on, and we are seeing a trend towards advisers paying for clients’ wills because there is a low cost of acquisition and it is a good way to differentiate their service and take due care of clients.

“We don’t want to step into advisory businesses but see a much stronger value proposition in being a good commercial partner. The more successful advisers are, the more people are protected. Thinking ahead, there is no reason why an adviser who wants to specialise in estate planning could not, and Footprint could be white-labelled.”

De Klerk says he has a “very open” relationship with Footprint but doesn’t receive referrals in return for passing on clients. He says Footprint is “not a burden of a process – it’s simple, easy to use and to understand. [Most] of my clients are in similar situations to one another, so I can say to them ‘here's how the will works and why it's a good idea’. My advice is around highlighting the consequences of not having a will in place. Footprint is a really good thing for financial advisers because it’s so easy for clients to go online and take care of it.” 

As Vale says: “The will only performs one part of the life finance equation. How bank accounts and insurance policies are set up and how your property is owned can all affect the funds that are available to your loved ones while your estate is being settled.

"Too many people have been left penniless in that interim period. That’s why these are conversations for today and why our work with advisers and employers like Sudima Hotels is so important.”

WHAT FOOTPRINT OFFERS ADVISERS

  • Help to protect their clients by providing wills.
  • A dedicated point of contact.
  • Regular service check-ins.
  • Step-by-step guides for advisers and their clients.
  • Reporting on client referrals and takeup so advisers know which of their clients created or updated their wills. This also has the benefit of providing evidence that estate planning support was offered to clients.
  • Comprehensive Footprint collateral.
  • The option to collaborate on trials to help improve conversion ratios and client service.

 

To find out more about how Footprint can work with your business, contact Angela Vale at Angela.Vale@myfootprint.co.nz
www.myfootprint.co.nz

Tags: estate planning Footprint Wills

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Last updated: 14 February 2020 10:02am

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