Earlier this autumn, I visited the Carter Center for a meeting of its National Planned Giving Advisory Board, on which I am honored to serve. We had several interesting discussions and presentations. Of particular interest was a set of findings from Bank of America / U.S. Trust.
U.S. Trust conducted a survey of high net worth clients on their goals in planning. They also surveyed the external advisors of high net worth clients regarding the advisors’ perception of the high net worth clients’ goals.
There were several topics on which the clients’ views differed significantly from the advisors’ perceptions of those views. Here are some interesting ways in which those views diverge:
- “Encourage kids” was a stated major goal for 30% of the clients, but only 20% of the advisors thought it would be.
- “Enhance family name or business” was a stated major goal of only 3% of the clients, whereas 22% of the advisors expected it would be a major goal.
- “Reduce Taxes” was a stated major goal for only 10% of the clients, but 46% of the advisors thought it would be.
- “Create a family legacy” was a stated major goal for only 12% of the clients, whereas 30% of the advisors thought it would be.
Particularly surprising was the disparity in thoughts on tax reduction.
This bifurcation of views on the goals of the clients illustrates how advisors often misperceive their clients’ goals. The first step in the planning process is always to divine the client’s goals. Often, we assume we know the client’s goals. As the U.S. Trust survey illustrates, all too often, we do not.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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