In a recent article Michael Kitches outlines the four different skill sets a financial advisor must have in today’s AUM model (charging clients based on how much money is under management) - competency, management, empathy, and sales. At Rest, we believe a similar model can be applied to estate planning lawyers. Estate planning lawyers charge hourly or flat fees based on the complexity of an estate plan - really no different than the AUM model implemented by financial advisors.
For argument's sake, let us extend Kitches definition of ‘advisors' to all advisors in the wealth management domain, including estate planning advisors. In his article, Kitches argues that the key abilities have shifted over time and the focus on business development has gone by the wayside. Advisors build technical competency, then relationships, and worry about business development later. It used to be the other way around.
Most would argue that this shift has been a positive one, that technical competence and empathy should be prioritized by advisors- we would agree, especially for estate planning advisors. This is a net positive for the industry: trusted advisors with the technical competence to walk a customer through a complicated and confusing process. It’s bi-product, however, is a lack of business development skills in an industry that desperately needs them.
This is why we believe that technology can be a net positive disruptor in legaltech. It should be used to augment the front-end of the sales funnel and continue to allow estate planners to focus on the work they do best and the work that customers value most - technical competence and empathy.