Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Estate Planning and Professional Convergence

My apologies to readers who may get several feeds on this post. I had an editing problem.

In a post last October, Professional Services Management - Conversations, I mentioned Plan4Life, a small JV that I had been chairing on behalf of a client and that our first multi-disciplinary training offering on estate planning being developed in conjunction with the University of Technology, Sydney should be launched in March 2007.

I also noted that this JV encapsulated another of the messages that I was trying to get across on this blog, the need for new approaches that will break down the silos separating the professions so that we can move towards a truly multi-disciplinary approach.

Some background first.

Plan4Life is a JV between Cropper Parkhill, a Sydney law firm, and CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) Australia. CAF Australia, a subsidiary of the UK headquartered Charities Aid Foundation, is a not for profit providing the knowledge, infrastructure, back-office administration and ongoing management of various services supporting individual and corporate philanthropy. The JV was founded to explore new cross-disciplinary approaches to estate planning incorporating philanthropy and community accountability.

Why estate planning?

This area sits at the convergence of a number of trends drawing together different professions.

Trend one is the growing financial complexity of life at personal and business level.

In that far of country of the past we lived in a simpler world so far as estate services were concerned. Lawyers drafted wills and handled probate. Accountants did tax and accounts. Financial advisers advised on investments. Management consultants and business advisers provided advice on business issues. In most cases, only one or at most two professionals were involved.

Today life is far more complex. Estates are bigger, can cross jurisdictions and involve complex questions of family and business succession, questions that need to be addressed in advance. People are living longer, too, raising new issues such as the question of diminishing competency.

Trend two is the growing emphasis on philanthropy and community accountability. Firms, families and individuals wish to make a direct contribution to community good. Governments are trying to encourage and support this through measures such as taxation concessions.

These trends require the development of new approaches to helping clients define and meet their needs in the estates area, approaches that allow for new combinations of advisers depending on the specific needs of the clients. In turn, this requires advisers to develop new knowledge and skills.

The development of these new approaches involves quite complex problems. Because different professions think in different ways, an issue I often talk about including the earlier professional mudmaps series of posts, a common service approach and language needs to be developed. Further, this has to take into account the differing legal and regulatory structures attached to different professions.

As a step in overcoming these difficulties, Plan4Life, its JV partners and the University of Technology (Sydney) have combined to develop an Estate Planning Bootcamp course designed to give financial and business advisers core competencies in estate planning including philanthropy and community accountability.

The first two day course will run at UTS on Saturday 3 and 10 March. If you would like to find out more, contact David Tilbury at Cropper Parkhill and he will send you a brochure.

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