The words “Nice Bike” to all who attended the Summit, including the entire Academy staff, never meant so much until the New Orleans event. Our guest speaker, Mark Scharenbroich, author of Nice Bike: Making Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life, did more than make a keynote presentation. He honored, acknowledged, and connected with all of us by showing us firsthand how to make meaningful connections. Many Members made it a point to let us know, either right after the session or on their evaluations, that this was a phenomenal speaker and topic!
This Summit was about “connection.” Connection begins with you connecting to why you do what you do and moves on to connecting with your staff, prospects and clients. For those at the Summit, let this be the reminder to create structure and accountability so this message does not get lost and overcome by the demands of daily activity. For those offices who were unable to attend, be sure to calendar time to listen to this session, take notes, and plan for a review of the other sessions at the Summit. There was a wide array of important game changing concepts covered that you will be able to implement immediately.
ACADEMY BOOT CAMP
Prior to the Summit, we held an Academy Systems Boot Camp for partners, associates attorneys, and attorneys looking into Membership. We spent 8 hours reviewing strategic planning, marketing approaches and planning, tracking, and the entire Academy “think like a business owner, not a technician” philosophy. They also learned more about the Academy services and programs, which will enable them to take immediate advantage of the full scope of Membership benefits on an ongoing basis. The feedback from Members and participants was outstanding, and we are making plans for another Boot Camp at the Fall Summit.
We shook things up and did some things differently at this Summit. We kicked off the event with a drawing for a free Kindle – the winner was Jim Nash, a 16-year Member from IL. We eliminated many of the Member Day topics and instead created a Summit Program with the typical Member Day items in there. Our focus during the session was on the New Developments at the Academy. We touched on the new Legacy Wealth Planning Co-Author Book Project, a new style of marketing videos specifically designed for the internet, and our latest technology developments. It is important to listen to this first session to hear about the upcoming upgrades to CounselPro™ regarding Lifetime Funding and the new Trust Administration module. In addition, we announced the continuation of a project that was sidelined as we reviewed document language. We are currently programming our documents into the commercial document assembly program HotDocs. Some Members currently use this program and we are well on the way to having our documents on this platform.
We ended our session with a review of our last keynote speaker, Darren Hardy. His message was inspiring and focused on individual productivity. Many Members told us they have implemented some of his recommendations. As we heard, “The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” The Compound Effect was the perfect message leading up to Mark Scharenbroich and Nice Bike! There was definitely a special connection between Mark and the Membership during his presentation. This connection continued as he signed books and well into the evening when he and his wife joined us for the cocktail party and dinner. Nice Bike Mark!
Success Stories: This is always a highlight of every event. Don’t miss the recording and materials from this session and use the successes of others to immediately impact your business. Although all of them were noteworthy, be sure to pay attention to the referrals received from the internet through the SEO program. In fact, one Member forwarded a website lead request email to us just after the Summit and shared the following: “Just look at these amazing Internet requests. Of course I’ll schedule this prospect when she has a good day. Isn’t this amazing? Look at the people you are helping! At the next event I would suggest you show the Members about 100 of these real examples.“
Good idea! We ask that your offices forward meaningful web leads to your PBC – those that turn into clients, or additional work or referrals!
Ethics Case Studies: Best Practices and Biggest Blunders: Members really thought the format of this session was great and there was a lot of contribution by Members. In addition, Dennis and Steve plan to provide follow up to the session in the upcoming months.
Financial Database Session: Always a favorite of Members and extremely informative! Thanks to our panel of Members who were kind enough to share their numbers with participating Members. We always wonder why all Members do not submit financials (which remain confidential and NO OTHER MEMBERS see your numbers unless you volunteer for the panel discussion). One success factor is being able to model what highly successful Academy attorneys are doing. This gives you the exact financial information which reveals their success. If you have not participated, make sure you do not miss this discussion at the next Spring Summit. The top owner compensation was $846,000. Come find out how it was done by making 2011 the year you will participate! Talk to your PBC for more details.
Funeral Trusts, Insurance Cases and Medicare Supplemental Insurance: This session covered several important topics. Funeral Trusts was presented by Steven Prince of Premier Planning (Bryan Adams was out of the country) and it is fast becoming a standard part of estate plans. There is a lot of activity inside the Academy Membership as well as by others not in the Academy. If you are not meeting this need for your clients, then it is likely that some other professional has or will. The top Academy firm has funded $1.5M in funeral trusts. This session covered how they did it. The Insurance Cases session reviewed several case studies that have been handled by Steven Burmeister of Premier Planning. The cases were interesting and may likely apply to one of your client situations. The final topic was Medicare Supplemental Insurance which many of your clients may already have in place; however, one primary benefit you can offer them is the same insurance at a lower cost. Premier Planning has a turn-key system to make this happen for you. For more information, contact Bryan Adams at email@example.com to let him know what services you’re interested in and expect a follow up from him or his staff. If you have not yet worked with Premier Planning, take advantage of this opportunity to work with an organization that can help you, help your clients with these important planning decisions and leave a lasting, positive impression of your firm and the services you provide.
SEO and the Future of Legal Services: 89% of shoppers begin online, 2 out of 3 consumers use Google to find your firm. There is no doubt that visibility online is vital to a firm’s success. This session highlighted the importance of online marketing and the latest tools for use in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that every law firm needs to implement. We reviewed the constant changes happening at Google and other search engines, the importance of SEO and social media, actions you can take now to get better placement, and the use of smart phones, mobile websites, and text notifications. Stay tuned for more innovation in this area.
Social Event: Even with the Mississippi River water level rising by the minute, the weather was perfect for dinner and conversation at the Audubon’s Swamp Exhibit. Although the band got caught in traffic, no one seemed to mind. The Cajun food was great, and a few Members even took advantage of the dance lessons to learn how to dance to lively Zydeco music.
New Law, New Strategy: Dennis and Steve gave a brief overview of the new law and then focused on how to take advantage of the two-year window of opportunity. They spent most of the session exploring a case study and the pros and cons of various planning strategies.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds: Assets Separate During Life, Together at Death: This discussion caused a great deal of buzz because of the unique opportunities available through the use of general powers of appointment. Steve walked through the PLR funding options (200101021 and 200604028), which allow the use of the survivor spouse’s funds to fully fund the Family Trust. Steve also showed how to get a step-up in basis on the Family Trust at the death of the surviving spouse, by using his unique contingent GPOA, getting a step-up in basis whenever possible!
Client Engagement Standards and the Impact on Profitability: This covered a topic introduced earlier in the year, Engagement Standards (ES). These standards set forth what clients should expect from your law firm and what you expect from your clients. We introduced a methodology for you to follow when developing your law firm’s ES. In addition, we covered how and when to implement this with clients. This can dramatically improve your practice and set the stage for referrals. We will continue to discuss this topic throughout the year because this can be a game changer in your firm.
Technology Update: We covered two important developments in the technology area. DocuBank shared their new SAFE program (Store All Files Electronically), which provides client portals from your website to store clients’ healthcare and other important documents. Make sure to contact DocuBank about this new addition to their services. We also had a demonstration of creating an Academy document using the new HotDocs program. We look forward to the initial release of the Academy HotDocs program.
Roundtable Session: Members openly sharing what works in their practices is always a session that has immediate impact on Member firms. The topic covered at this event was Setting and Quoting Fees – Charging What Your Services Are Worth. A special thanks to each of the panelists who shared their specific fees, methodology and successes. Be sure to listen and compare what you’re doing to the strategies these Members are using.
Sunday was devoted to education where Dennis and Steve covered Avoiding Estate Planning Malpractice, Including New Cutting Edge Claims – how about that for Sunday morning excitement! The final topic was Getting Medicaid and VA Benefits Without Giving Up the Farm. This was a comprehensive half day of education with great feedback from all who attended!
Introduction of CounselPro™ 6A: Donna Hooper and Randy Harwick showed staff and Members the new design features of the soon-to-be-released update for CounselPro™ 6.0. This update includes the redesign of Lifetime Funding, integration of Advanced Funding, a new Trust Administration and Probate Module, and four new Wizards. The new Funding redesign tracks asset information in one screen, allows offices to add and update funding institutions globally, and to transfer assets from any source to any destination, including Family and Marital Trusts, or other trust type transfers. The new Funding Wizards automate the entire transfer process. The new Trust Administration and Probate module includes a new field for administration capacity, the ability to automate government, state and local deadlines by date of death, various member selected trigger points, generate forms, letters, and reports, and manage scheduling and calendaring. Keep an eye out for installation information in the coming months. Members attending the session were impressed with the comprehensive nature of the program. The session also provided a forum for user input as the final programming is being completed.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR OUR UPCOMING EVENTS!
2011 Fall Summit in downtown San Diego: October 13-16, 2011
Optional Educational Training (same location): October 16-17, 2011
We are already working on the Summit agenda for this event! Be sure to book your rooms now at the U.S. Grant Hotel. Optional Educational Training will be offered on October 16 and 17, topics to be announced.
2012 Spring Summit in historic Williamsburg, VA: May 3-6, 2012
Hotel information will be posted soon.
Keep in mind… If you miss one Summit, at least 365 days will have passed since you were surrounded by the most successful, knowledgeable, and like-minded estate planning business entrepreneurs in the country. This is not something to take lightly. More ideas and inspiration, that produce vast amounts of revenue, are exchanged at Academy events than any other place you could go.
Don’t leave your future to chance—mark your calendar now and commit to working on your business and your life with the rest of your Academy community!
ONE FINAL THOUGHT
Most attorneys never understand the importance of investing in themselves and their staff. You are all different and continue to invest in your business in many ways. As entrepreneurs, you have chosen to get more out of life than the rank and file attorneys out there who leave their destiny in others’ hands. You have accepted the risk, responsibility, and rewards that go with this territory, rather than the illusory security of a job and the routine that usually follows. To all of you – Nice Bike!
To your success,
Robert and Sandy
Robert Armstrong & Sanford M. Fisch
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
6050 Santo Road Ste 240
San Diego, CA 92124