September 2013: Estate Planning

In this month’s Broker Monitor Report, we review how brokerage firms are addressing the issue of wealth transfer. In our research, we looked for any and all estate planning accounts, services and educational resources provided by brokerage firms on our coverage roster. Firms in this report were assessed on the following key criteria:

  • Accessibility of estate planning accounts, services and educational resources
  • Variety of estate planning accounts, services and resources
  • Quality of estate planning and wealth transfer resources

Across the firms in this report, we found that 65% offer estate planning services to clients. All full-service firms offer estate planning from financial advisors as a standard service, with three discount firms providing estate planning services through dedicated teams of specialists. Additionally, six firms do not offer any estate planning services.

 

Trust accounts were the most popular account type and are offered across the board. About half of all firms (52%) also offer estate accounts that include services and features similar to standard brokerage accounts (e.g., trading privileges, margin, cash management).

 

Nearly two-thirds of firms provide articles, brochures, guides or tools about estate planning. Among the firms that do offer resources, the most popular methods for helping investors understand estate planning are through text-based articles, guides or brochures. Three discount firms provide webinars, webcasts or tutorials related to estate planning. Only one of the full-service firms offers an advisor search tool with a filter for estate planning. Additionally, one firm offers a contact form that allows prospects to identify their interest in estate planning when contacting an advisor; however, that option is not available as a filter on the advisor search tool.

 

Additional key findings include:

  • Two firms allow prospects to identify their interest in estate planning when contacting an advisor; however, that option is not available as a filter on the advisor search tool.
  • Dedicated estate planning customer service representatives are offered by seven firms.
  • Trusts and other estate accounts are offered by 89% of firms.
  • 35% of firms covered in this report provide estate planning checklists.