Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Legs for an Old Marketing Tool?

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the new wire-house colossus, announced it would stress financial planning services, including estate planning. Sure enough, the other day the flier at left arrived in the mail.

To trust companies and bank trust divisions, use of estate planning as a marketing tool couldn't be more old hat. If MSSB thinks the tool is valuable today, maybe trust bankers should get moving and throw their hats back into the ring.

Marketing via estate planning should heat up later this year, when Congress acts to prevent the estate tax from expiring (and surely adds a few new twists). Corporate fiduciaries who want to be seen as a source of estate-planning help in December had better promote themselves now.

If the company were paying me sales commissions, I'd suggest that those not already using Merrill Anderson's newsletters and brochures should start immediately. What the heck, I'll suggest it anyway.


anon said...

Who provides the estate planning services to their clients? Do they have attorneys on staff? That doesn't seem right. Do they refer them out?

Jim Gust said...

No, they can't have attorneys on staff to sell estate planning. However, they can have sample trust forms, even will forms, that can be borrowed and adapted by the client's own attorney. They can discuss estate planning strategies with some authority, but they cannot charge for an estate planning consultation, they can't "provide legal advice."

From the client perspective, the trust officer is another member of the team, one that doesn't collect fees until the plan is implemented.