$8.8 trillion.

That’s the amount of money that American families with investable assets between $5 million to $30 million will leave to their heirs this decade.1

With such a huge amount of money about to change hands, the demand for estate and trust planning services has increased significantly. According to a recent Forrester survey:

  • 29 percent of surveyed advisors said estate/trust planning is one of the top two financial matters their clients are currently planning for or considering
  • 87 percent said their clients are proactive (51 percent said their clients are very proactive) when it comes to managing their estate/trust planning goals2

These data points signal that clients are interested in and want to be heavily involved in the estate planning process.2

While the demand for financial planning expertise is certainly good for advisors who offer holistic services, that doesn’t mean meeting the demand for estate/trust planning is easy.

3 barriers to providing superior estate/trust planning services

Forrester’s survey identified several perceived barriers that advisors face when they try to provide estate/trust planning services to their clients:

1. Technology is outdated and difficult to learn.

Thirty-seven percent of surveyed advisors said technologies that are outdated or missing key functionalities are one of the top three hurdles that prevent them from better managing their clients’ financial plans. When they do invest in new tools, 36 percent also said technologies can be cumbersome and difficult to learn.2

2. Estate/trust planning is personal and requires high levels of trust.

Thirty-three percent of surveyed advisors said asking their clients to share highly personal information is a top-three challenge, which implies that trust is an issue and that clients need to feel a certain level of control over the estate planning process.2

3. Market uncertainty creates concern and hesitation.

Similarly, 32 percent of respondents said market conditions and financial uncertainty leave clients concerned, which makes it that much harder to move forward confidently with major financial planning decisions.2

The survey findings further identified that these three challenges cause a lack of clarity regarding client needs, weaker client trust in their work, and client attrition.2 Thankfully, intuitive, easy-to-navigate technology can address these issues and increase client comfort.

Smarter technology addresses estate/trust planning challenges

Today’s advisors see artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, analytics, and other tools as helpful to increasing client engagement and knowledge around estate/trust planning.2 Of course, technology is helpful only if it is used in effective ways. For example, real-time insights, advanced data aggregation, and streamlined documentation make the entire financial planning process easier. Four in 10 surveyed advisors said they seek tailored, automated tools that update based on their clients’ evolving needs and life situations (e.g., understanding family dynamics, identifying needs of heirs, calculating Medicare/college expenditures).2 And finally, everyone is looking for more interactivity and collaboration. Thirty-seven percent of surveyed advisors said interactive and collaborative technologies (e.g., highly intuitive tools, more digital touchpoints) would better help their clients achieve their goals.2

Envestnet | MoneyGuide’s Wealth Studios is an example of this type of technology. It helps to simplify the complexity of estate techniques and provides clients with the knowledge needed for them to actively participate in their own legacy planning. Advisors are able to use this tool to demonstrate the transition of wealth between generations, the impact of establishing trusts, and the potential benefits of various gifting strategies.

Read the research HERE.
Learn more about using Wealth Studios in your practice HERE.


1. “Global Private Banking Trends In 2021,” Forrester Research, Inc., April 20, 2021
2. “The Evolution Of Estate And Trust Planning Solutions,” Forrester Consulting Opportunity Snapshot: A Custom Study Commissioned by Envestnet, January 2022

The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.

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