Are Today's Processes Fit For Tomorrow's Clients?

Original Research by Arken Legal

Who completed this survey?


This survey was completed by 252 professionals that operate in the estate planning industry. 72% work at Law firms, 17% for Will Writer firms and the remaining are a mix of Accountants, Independent Consultants, Financial Consultants and more.


62% of respondents that answered this survey worked with over 21 employees, 22% with between 1-5 employees and the remaining were in between these two brackets.


Most responses are therefore from larger law firms. Whose client base will most likely consist of middle to high-net-worth families who will hit the inheritance tax threshold.


Serving Baby Boomers

Graph 1: Which generation makes up the majority of your client base?


Most respondents (57%) reported having a client base that mainly consisted of Baby Boomers, those aged roughly 65-85 years old. With Baby Boomers holding 80% of the UKs private wealth (Dunstan Thomas, 2022) coupled with their age, this is not surprising.


However, Generation X’ers made up a larger chunk than anticipated, with nearly 40% reporting that it was this cohort that made up most of their client base.


How much are their beneficiaries inheriting?


When asked, ‘how much are your client’s children or beneficiaries set to inherit in total’. Most respondents reported a wide range of results.


Our professional estate planners believe the beneficiaries of the Wills they have created will inherit:

18% –  50-200K

31%  – 200-400k

34% – 400-500K+


Graph 2: On average, how much are your client’s children or beneficiaries set to inherit in total?


With over 65% of beneficiaries set to inherit over £200,000, the pressure is on for estate planners to provide an exemplary service for these families. These beneficiaries will subsequently need support themselves and will be looking for advisors to turn to.  


This is especially important when we consider our next question.


“Do you feel your client’s beneficiaries are including their inheritance in their lifetime financial planning and are therefore starting to rely on it?” A whopping 48% felt that they were. Making the money inherited from parents or other family members, increasingly important to their lifetime goals and ambitions.


52% of respondents also felt that their clients were concerned about how their children or beneficiaries will manage the money they inherit. Implying that they may not trust their Millennial or Generation X children to utilise or protect these windfalls effectively alone. This could also imply a difference in attitudes with regards to money and what it should be spent on or how it should be invested.


Helping these beneficiaries with financial advice, support, and an estate plan of their own would therefore be pertinent. Creating a relationship with this group not only helps keep high-net-worth families as clients over the longer term but would also help to protect family wealth and preserve it for those all-important lifetime financial plans.


Thankfully, roughly 70% of estate planners felt they could support their client’s children or beneficiaries with their inherited wealth because they have a direct relationship with financial advisors. But in terms of keeping these clients themselves and serving them directly, only 23% reported having a relationship with them.


This 23% reported having completed a Lasting power of Attorney, General Power of Attorney or another document for them. Documents that Millennial’s and Generation X may need in great swathes as the UKs population ages and a growing number of people live with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.


For those who didn’t have a direct relationship with the beneficiaries, 40% reported that they hoped to have one eventually. Suggesting it is on the agenda to keep families on the client roster… eventually. With protecting inherited wealth becoming a more important issue for families, perhaps building relationships earlier would be beneficial.


Graph 3: Do you have a relationship with your client’s children?


The Great Wealth Transfer


The Great Wealth Transfer refers to the passing of wealth from the Baby Boomer generation to their Generation X and Millennial children. It’s considered to be one of the biggest transfers of wealth in human history and is thought to impact inheritance patterns, investment strategies and the overall distribution of wealth in society. It is largely due to the rises in house prices over the Baby Boomers lifetime. The crux of it for estate planners?


People will be inheriting larger amounts than ever before.


Only 44% of respondents had heard of the Great Wealth Transfer but 52% felt they were prepared to take advantage of the opportunities it would bring to the estate planning market.


Combining the Great Wealth Transfer with the knowledge that inherited wealth is becoming more relied upon, puts the pressure on estate planners. Families have more to lose, and contentious claims have already seen an increase (IRN Research Reports). If we look at this through a more positive lens though, it also means that there will be more opportunity and growth potential for firms in this industry.


Enter Millennial’s


When asked if our respondents knew roughly how old their clients’ beneficiaries or children are. 62% didn’t know, but those who did, reported that roughly 70% felt they were between 31 and 50. This is a mixture of Generation X and Millennial’s, and we’ve already seen more Generation X’ers as clients than anticipated from the results in Graph 1. Has this new cohort started filtering through to the typical client base for estate planners already? It seems so.


Graph 4: What would you say is the average age of your client’s children or beneficiaries?


When we asked, “In your opinion, do you think that the next generation of clients (Generation X and Millennial’s) will expect digital services, processes and apps as part of your service delivery?”


52% responded that they did, and that they were already preparing for it. 40% agreed but were not preparing for it and 15% of respondents said their clients were already demanding this.


Baby Boomers have quite different buying behaviours and expectations from their service providers than Generation X and especially, Millennial’s do. Generation X’ers and Millennial’s are more technologically savvy, they demand convenience, digital accessibility and immediacy. Those that fail to prepare for this change, may end up falling behind their competitors.


Graph 5: In your opinion, do you think that the next generation of clients (Generation X and Millennial’s) will expect digital services, processes and apps as part of your service delivery? Please tick all that apply.


Kindly, respondents also shared what investments their practice is making to best service these clients.


72% are investing in digitising more of their processes so their turnaround times are quicker. 68% are working on becoming more accessible for new clients via digital channels – e.g. social media and their website. And 54% are introducing more communication channels for their clients, so they’re more convenient to contact. This evidences that many estate planning firms are no longer shying away from digital transformation and are in fact, actively investing in it.


Graph 6: What investments is your practice making to best service your clients of tomorrow? Please tick all that apply.


For those that weren’t currently investing in ‘preparing for their clients of tomorrow’ 40% cited ‘not enough time’ as being the core reason why, and 35% cited ‘It’s not on the Partner’s/Board’s radar.’ Whereas 26% of respondents said that it was because they didn’t have enough budget.


When asked what they would invest in ‘in an ideal world’ 43% said they would want to become more accessible for new clients via digital channels like social media or their website. Interestingly, 36% said they would like a client portal where clients can manage actions and review the status of their estate plan and 35% wanted to digitise more of their processes.


Graph 7: In an ideal world, which of the following would you invest in?


In summary


To conclude, we can read from the results that the next generation are set to inherit more than any generation before them. We also understand that they are more reliant on this inheritance for their lifetime financial plans and goals, a risky strategy, and their parents are concerned that they will mismanage their windfalls.


The Great Wealth Transfer is evidence that this is a problem for many families. Therefore, professional estate planners have a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of responsibility ahead of them. As inheritances become larger and more important to families, contentious claims are more likely.


Professional estate planners are confident they can help beneficiaries navigate their new wealth because they have the relevant business relationships, but they have fewer ways of keeping the client themselves. Making them vulnerable to loosing clients to organisations that meet this cohorts significantly different buying behaviours and need for more holistic advice.


The overwhelming majority (92%) of firms believe that their next generation of clients will demand digital services, processes and apps and over half are already actively preparing themselves. These firms are actively investing in digitally transforming processes that improve convenience, speed and accessibility.


This also means that just under half of firms will struggle to meet the service expectations and buying behaviours of Millennial’s and Generation X’ers. So not only will they not have a direct relationship with them, but they may also lose them to competitors who can better serve them.


About Arken Legal


Software that helps you achieve uniformity, enhance precision and draft 10 times faster


Arken Legal’s software is designed to help estate planning professionals streamline their document drafting processes. From Wills to Trusts, our software reduces the chance of errors, precedents and clauses are monitored by a Legal Advisory Board, so you can implement standardised wording, formatting, and branding across your business.


Digital instruction taking, data capture, online Wills and digital lead generation is also available to help you scale and grow your business. We have the solution to meet your needs, which is why over 6,000 professionals and some of the best names in the industry trust our software to support their business.


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