Brent Brodeski set out a year and a half ago to beef up Savant Capital Management's estate planning capabilities and create a process for clients who wanted to leave behind a legacy.
His first move was to hire a premiere attorney in northern Illinois to head up what's now the Family Wealth Transfer division of $4 billion Savant Capital.
In that role, Michael Cyrs, who also has a certified financial planner designation, doesn't draft documents. He leads clients through a process of creating what the firm calls an “Ideal Futures Vision Statement,” and then helps them with the asset protection, tax strategies and gifting plans to make it happen.
“If you are going to help a family with estate planning, you have to begin the process by uncovering what's important to them and what values they seek to pass on,” Mr. Brodeski said.
Savant Capital offers most existing clients the service as part of its annual AUM-based fee, or it charges others a quarterly retainer fee to provide the help. The services are part of the firm's overall strategy to offer holistic planning and help clients build ideal futures, he said.
Offering the wealth transfer services creates stronger bonds with existing clients, introduces the firm to clients' heirs, and allows the firm's advisers to see the client's full range of assets and holdings, which in some cases has led to the pick up of additional accounts, Mr. Brodeski said.
“It creates more sticky clients and it's a wallet share opportunity because the process gives you a map to all the client's wealth,” he said.
In addition, the firm has attracted new clients as referrals from attorneys who come across individuals or families with complicated wealth transfer issues that require in-depth planning, Mr. Brodeski said.
• Have in-house estate planning and tax experts who can introduce clients to the many types of trusts and tax techniques that are most effective at preserving and protecting wealth.
• Help clients think through what they can do with their wealth so their money matches up to their values and wishes. Do they have philanthropic goals?
• Provide concierge services by working with clients' lawyers and accountants to make sure documents are drafted properly and tax strategies are well executed.
• Research the life insurance and banking products available through outside partners that can help clients leave their wealth purposefully to future generations.
• Talk with clients about a process to help coordinate estate and trust administration issues before and after death, including family meetings and communications.