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Only 48% of estate planning professionals received a low-risk exposure score 

Our Risk Exposure Quiz has produced some interesting results so far. The market is changing, contentious probate claims and cyber-attacks are on the rise.

So, amid the challenges, we decided to run a short quiz that quickly calculates your businesses exposure to risks in the following areas:

  1. Precedents
  2. Processes
  3. Data and Records
  4. Staff
  5. Digital Solutions
  6. Supplier Management
  7. Strategy

Overall, 48% of respondents received a low-risk exposure score, 38% received a medium-risk exposure score and 14% received a high-risk exposure score. Read on below for a breakdown of the results in each area.

Everyone who completes the quiz receives their scores immediately and some useful tips in each area. Complete the quiz here and see how you compare.

A Breakdown of the Results

Precedents 

63.42% of organisations received a low-risk score in this area, despite 45% of drafters reportedly writing bespoke wording for each client. Most organisations (45%) check their precedents every 1-3 months, with the next largest cohort (41%) checking them every 6-12 months. This is, therefore, not a risk that is easily recognised as a risk and could potentially need addressing.

Writing bespoke wording for each client leaves room for typos and human error, and managing your own precedents takes time away from other important activities. It also increases the likelihood that different drafters will use their own precedent wording. This creates room for error and makes the peer review process much harder. Automating these two areas not only helps to mitigate risk, but it also improves efficiency.

Processes 

Only 46.35% or organisations received a low risk score in this area. With 38% of respondents reporting that they do not have a process in place for checking work before release, whether that’s others checking their work or utilising digital checks. Interestingly, 50% of estate planning professionals only carry out mental capacity assessments on clients they are concerned about – whereas 36% carry them out on every single client.

Utilising software that supports the drafter though digital checks helps streamline the creation of estate planning documents. It also helps point to areas that must be reviewed. Using consistent wording via software that automates its population in documents, helps to streamline the peer review process too.

Mental capacity is not always easy to spot, and with contentious probate claims on the rise carrying out a mental capacity assessment on every client will help build a more robust due diligence process. It will also protect the clients wishes. Would you remember the exact conversation that led to a positive capacity check, potentially 10 years down the line?

Data and Records

Similar to the process section, only 48.78% of businesses received a low exposure to risk score in this area. 33% of organisations still hold paper records that aren’t digitised yet and only 38% of respondents say they don’t have to re-key in data across multiple systems.

Re-keying in data exposes your organisation to the risk of manual errors, such as spelling mistakes and typos. Will preparation software solutions minimise this need to re-key. Risks are also increased when documents aren’t backed up in the Cloud or off-site for business continuity. Many firms still have un-digitised records and documents in basements or offices, which is not only inefficient, but it also poses a risk if there is a flood, fire or other issues.

Staff 

Estate planning professionals have a low risk exposure score when it comes to their staff (14.63%). They’re well trained on processes and systems (71% report they provide thorough training), but only 49% or organisations have a good reward/progression plan for staff to keep them in the business.

The recruitment process is lengthy and expensive. Losing key staff members can also impact continuity and the reputation of a firm. Providing them with thorough training is important, but its also important to have reward and progression plans in place that recognise their performance and not just time served.

There is an expectation, especially for younger generations, that digital tools will be in place to help them with day-to-day tasks too.

Digital Solutions

60.98% of respondents fell into the low-risk category for this section. With 59% using multi-factor authentication to log into systems and 61% use software that has inbuilt controls to help guide them. 51% of respondents also reported that they have extra provisions in place for emailing sensitive client documents.

We live in a digital era, but also in one where hackers exist! Ensuring multi-factor authentication and either password protection or other security surrounding the emailing of sensitive data is important. The software might be great, but most still rely on human input, so having a system that guides or flags when information is incorrect or missing helps mitigate your risk too.

Supplier Management

34.15% scored high risk in this area, with 44% of respondents saying they didn’t know if their provider ran regular penetration tests on their software and 39% saying they haven’t seen or didn’t know their supplier’s data and privacy policy.

If your suppliers hold sensitive client data, its important to know what they’re doing with it and where it’s stored. Having a copy of their data and privacy policy saved is wise, as is understanding what servers your suppliers use to store data. If your supplier is regularly updating you about patches and system improvements, that’s a good sign, as it means your risk of data loss or intrusion into your systems is less likely.

Strategy Questions

Only 34.15% of respondents scored as low risk in this section. With 46% of people reporting they didn’t know where their new business was going to come from in the future and 39% reporting that they don’t have a business continuity strategy in place. Interestingly, 61% of respondents said that they do have a mechanism in place for gathering, analysing, and sharing feedback from clients. A process that will hold them in good stead as it means any miscommunications can be quickly rectified and any complaints can be addressed quickly and efficiently.

Our market is rapidly changing- if you’re not looking ahead to plan for your future clients and their needs, then you risk the long-term viability of your firm. Many firms can switch to home working easily now, but other business continuity plans should be in place – for losing key staff or cyber security breaks for example.

Utilising Will writing software, can help reduce the time required to write bespoke wording, manage precedents and re-key in data. It will streamline processes such as document checks and peer reviews and will store data safely. It will provide additional digital security, such multi-factor authentication and it will support due diligence processes such as carrying out mental capacity checks.

Theses efficiency gains free up time for firms to focus on strategic matters, such as a new business strategy or a business continuity strategy.

How do you compare? 

Find out how your organisation compares by taking the Risk Exposure Quiz here. There are 20 questions, it takes two minutes and its quite informative! So, complete it today before it closes.

Learn more about the benefits of Will writing software, by visit the website here.

This article was submitted to be published by Arken.legal as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.

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