Practice Management TrendsettersSeptember 30/2018

Offering valuable advice through your beneficiary audit service

When was the last time a client or prospect walked into your office and asked for an estate plan? The reason why people don’t ask for one is that they need a deeper clarity around their specific goals for their estate. Instead, ask this question. “Did you know about our beneficiary audit service? “The typical answer is no, what is that about. “Would it be valuable to do a beneficiary audit, to summarize on one page all your beneficiaries and the benefits they will receive, and make sure all beneficiaries are correct and coordinated with your will? If we could summarize this information on one page, would that be valuable to you?


Show them the “missing” beneficiary
When you do a beneficiary audit, people are usually surprised by the amount each beneficiary gets, but even more surprised how much one of the largest beneficiaries gets, which is the government, in different forms of taxation. This will show you and your client, potential blind spots in their planning, and open opportunities for long conversations on planning and advice. Don’t talk about solutions, or product, talk about strategies. Strategy, according to Wikipedia, is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. Ask your clients and prospects if a beneficiary audit service would be valuable to them? What is the cost of the service, besides your time? This is part of the fundamental role of an advisor of the future, which is talking about advice and goals, not products. Right away it is valuable advice for the client or prospect, and this is a service you can consider charging for (depending on compliance and regulations, always check with your branch manager or compliance officer before proceeding)

Help get your clients and prospects organized
I had a client come in and I offered the beneficiary audit service. The first thing we needed was a list of all the documents I needed. This helped the client first find the documents and second get organized. Even before we met, we helped the client to think about what it is they want to accomplish. Once they brought in their documents, I then asked the goals questions as it related to their estate (which I will post in a future article) It helps open up a discussion about their estate, by offering your beneficiary audit service, and helps your client and prospect get deeper clarity around what they want for their estate as most people don’t know. This can also be called the estate clarity exercise or service, but I like beneficiary audit, as most people would find it more valuable getting their documents and beneficiaries in order, than talking about their estate.

Pictures on paper
Now I had a net worth snapshot, an estate summary and a picture of what they wanted for their estate. I put it all down on one page and asked a simple, but not an easy question. Is this what you want to have happened for your beneficiaries? This is not the time to show your fancy estate planning software or printing off a 20-page document to show people how to maximize their estate. This is to show your strength in taking something extremely complex and making it simple on one page. This is just a summary and discussion document. I said to the clients, “because this is a summary for discussion purposes, is this what you thought it would look like?” or “what comes to mind when you see this document?” They have it roughly mapped out in their mind, and now it is on paper, summarized on one page in front of them. It shows them who will get what and shows them the tax liability. They are not thinking of the accuracy of all the detailed numbers, they are thinking what most wealthy people think. How do I mitigate taxes for my estate? Or is this the right path for me, my spouse and my family? Then you can ask the critical question in the process. “How do you feel about your plan for your beneficiaries?”.

It all comes down to planning and advice
Clients love planning and advice, but the challenge they have is how do they value it? What does it cost? What will I get? Putting a price tag on peace of mind is like pricing out the value of your best friend. It is intangible, yet we all try to put a tangible value on advice. The financial services industry does it every day. The better question to ask, once you have done several beneficiary audits, is “What is the value of our beneficiary audit service to you?” When I asked a client this question, they asked, extremely valuable how much do I owe you for this? Now you know it is a valuable service to offer clients and prospects. Start asking the question” Would it be valuable to do a beneficiary audit, to summarize on one page all your beneficiaries and the benefits they will receive, and make sure all beneficiaries are correct and coordinated with your will? If we could summarize this information on one page, would that be valuable to you?

In a future post, I will talk about the “Legacy Service offering” to help you become a “Future Ready Financial Advisor” which is about advice and goals. If you would like more information about financial advisor workshops or coaching to build your value promise process, email us at

For a copy of our guide " Future Ready Financial Advisor" go to or



Enthusiastically yours,

Grant Hicks, CIM, National Director Practice Management
Advisor Practice Management

909-17th Ave SW, 4th Floor
Calgary, Alberta  T2T 0A4
Tel  587 390 3148
Cell 403 970 8895

PS Where do you want to be in 3 years?

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