The “Will File” has been in existence since the inception of the Trust Agreement in the late 1800’s. There are various phrases for the Will File such as “Future Fee Client Database”, “Group of Unfunded Trusts” or “Will File Appointments”. Regardless of the technical name, fiduciary organizations struggle to build and maintain an efficient process to organize and monitor these future (and often current) clients and as a result – not giving them the attention they deserve.
Will File – A collection of names where the fiduciary institution has been named as a future Trustee (or contingent), Executor, or other fiduciary capacity through a will file appointment or within a trust agreement. These can also be considered “unfunded trusts”.
Every wealth management professional probably remembers the moment that he/she first started digging into a Will File database. You may have stared at a few thousand names & remember asking yourself a few questions such as:
Most organizations organize their Will File information on a spreadsheet while others use an “internally built system” attached to their CRM (Client Management System). An internal solution may work but maintaining it, generating reports, and allowing access to multiple people can be challenging. Another obstacle is also having access to dedicated technology resources and keeping the platform updated. There is also a third group (the minority) that utilize a third-party provider that provides a web based and secure platform with reporting capabilities.
Although a lack of maintaining your Will File database may not be a top regulatory risk for your organization, there are certainly operational and reputational risks that can become embarrassing situations for your organization if it is mismanaged. Consider the following examples:
The pitfalls can be endless and stagnant data is a risk! It only takes one situation as we all say in this business. A failure to maintain an updated database with established procedures may result in a breach of fiduciary duty, lost sales, a lack of referral reporting, and potentially embarrassing situations for your organization that will diminish your brand and client confidence.
Given the fact that a wealth management customer has placed their trust in your organization, how much are you willing to invest in managing these clients now? There are some simple opportunities to enhance your processes to avoid operational risks and embarrassing moments for your organization. Consider the following:
If you acknowledge that you may have some risks managing your Will File database and your existing solution is not optimal, then take some action! You don’t have to invest in the most optimal platform out of the gate. Develop a plan that prioritizes your shortfalls and work toward enhancing over time. There are existing solutions in the marketplace as well as best practices by other organizations you can review today.
Make a commitment and invest for your future clients – they deserve it!
RIC has developed a robust solution to help wealth management institutions organize and update their will file database while staying connected to future clients. Our DATATRACK Will File Platform will help you serve in your fiduciary capacity and generate critical reports to assist in cross selling efforts. Take advantage of this user-friendly platform to reap the following benefits:
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