Neglecting to have the Estate Planning conversation makes it difficult for you and your client to manage their financial risks.

Monday September 5th 2022

Jodie Douglas, Principal Adviser & Co-Founder of Mad about LIFE (MAL)

Mad About LIFE was established in January 2014, we have grown our advice practice organically, and today based on 100% word of mouth, together with a strong passion to provide great advice, we have 250 clients.

When we first started, most financial planning businesses were using more conservative business names, so we were quite ‘out there’ with Mad About LIFE. However, our clients love our vibrant brand because planning for your future is all about LIFE and LIVING. Oh, and funny enough the name came about because our side business at the time was called ‘Mad About Campers’ and my husband Mike, jokingly said, let’s call our financial planning business ‘Mad About LIFE’, and it just seemed right.

At MAL we are all about helping everyday Australians reach their financial goals. We focus on three key areas: Wealth, Protection and Legacy.

We added estate planning to our service offering very early on in2015, and it truly was the best thing we ever did. Having a ‘whole of life’, long term approach to our clients’ needs means we are with them for the long haul “A client of ours really is a client for life”. It also means we have gained their trust, and really, we know our clients better than they know themselves.

Now I really can’t imagine giving financial advice and not including estate planning. It’s really such an important part of the entire financial planning conversation.

And of course, having access to an efficient online system such as Yodal makes it easier for us and for our clients. We only started using Yodal just over a month ago now, replacing a similar online estate planning solution. Although it’s early days we are really happy with Yodal. Yodal in comparison to other platforms we have used, frees up our time a little more as there is less that we need to do, and if we need to talk to someone or ask additional questions that is all included in the price rather than having to pay extra. We have found Yodal to be really refreshing to use and we are confident it will add more value to our client experience.

I really think many financial advisers steer away from estate planning because they think they need the expertise of a lawyer and that it adds more work. Which is not the case when using a platform like Yodal.

Another critical aspect that I feel is undervalued and often overlooked is the need for a ‘Living Will’ at claim time. That is, if as advisers we provide Income Protection, Trauma, Life and TPD Insurance advice, we must also ensure that our clients power of attorney documents are securely in place and able to be used in the event that they are injured or ill and unable to put their own protection plan into action by signing a claim form when they need to. For us this is all done as a part of the estate planning discussion. So, if the worst happens, we can work with the appointed family member or friend, help them access Yodal, obtain the original power of attorney documents and get an insurance claim underway as promptly as possible.. It is so critical but can be overlooked leaving the client and the adviser at great risk of not being able to act as promptly as they had promised.

Having conversations about what happens if you are injured, or die is not as difficult as we often think it is going to be because what we are doing is so valuable and important. We turn these conversations into a positive experience because we are planning beyond their lifetime providing peace of mind for them and their loved ones.

When a new client comes to us, we always start off with a phone conversation and one of our first questions is, do you have a Will? Most of our clients will say no, and for no other reason than “they just haven’t got around to it”.

When we offer this within the goals based financial planning package, they are really interested in getting their Will finalised. They never say no, but might drag the chain and require our assistance to keep them accountable to their goal, but they know it’s important they just need some help to have the conversation. We can show the value of getting it done and once it is done, they are very appreciative and have a greater level of peace of mind. And then of course our job continues to make sure their Estate Plan remains up to date and relevant, leaving no one at risk.

Jodie Douglas

Mad About Life