The Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners began as an idea amongst five business owners who had a vision of creating a totally independent representative body for will writers.
Launching the SWW in April 1994 played a vital role in kickstarting the estate planning profession at a time when there was no easily accessible guidance, ongoing training, or support for those entering the field. These are all things we continue to champion today, and without the efforts of the SWW, the profession may not be what it is today. Over the years, we’ve taken on additional functions including redress mechanisms for consumers, representation for our members at government level as well as national marketing campaigns, all in the name of encouraging the need for professional estate planning.
We’ve come a long way since the early days. What started as five members quickly grew, with others who shared the same passion and dedication to will writing as our founders getting behind the SWW early on. Some of those who joined 28 years ago are still members today, rightly earning the exclusive Companion grade through continued support for their Society and the profession, as well as providing a vital service to their local communities and even further afield – now that’s dedication for you!
As we celebrate 28 years in business, the SWW can proudly boast its highest ever membership figures achieved. With near on 1,800 individuals belonging to over 900 companies, including some of the largest estate planning firms in the UK, this growth shows no signs of slowing and has firmly cemented our place as the largest body representing will writers and estate planners – not just in the UK, but overseas too.
SWW membership, whilst excellent value for money and jam-packed with benefits, provides a badge that members are proud to wear. Having become a now internationally recognised body, consumers have the confidence in choosing members of the SWW for their estate planning needs over anybody else, because they know they’ve chosen to become the very best at what they do – something which every member of the SWW should be sure to shout about.
What’s next for the SWW, then?
Continued growth, whilst positive, presents challenges, although none we see insurmountable. Bringing both new and experienced will writers into the fold is all well and good. However, we still have a duty to uphold standards, give each of our members a voice, and provide them with the support that they need. This, coupled with balancing our separate public functions, makes managing the day-to-day operations of the SWW an almighty challenge. All is safely and efficiently handled however by our dedicated team based in Lincoln, which has been expanded over the last year to include a new board member, marketer and technical advisor to meet the ever-increasing demand of our members and consumers.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The SWW has been at the very forefront of the profession’s development since its inception and continues to work behind the scenes for its members by meeting and consulting on topics such as regulatory reform, modernisation, and the use of technology with the likes of the MoJ, LSB, FCA, SRA and the OPG, just to name a handful of topics and organisations. Members can rest assured knowing that not a day goes by where we aren’t working on something, with someone, all for their benefit. Add on top the work being carried out by our very own Professional Standards Board, and it quickly becomes apparent just what lengths we will go to in driving positive change and innovation for our profession.
As we look further to the future, members will have plenty to be excited about. Currently in the pipeline we have new courses and events, including our 25th Annual Conference, as well as new reward initiatives. At the head office, we continue to expand our own services, all the while digitising and modernising as necessary to make everything more easily accessible. It’s safe to say there’s plenty to be revealed over the coming weeks and months, so do stay tuned!
Finally, on behalf of The Society of Will Writers, I want to say thank you for 28 years of support and encouragement from all those who have given it. Even though I’ve only been a part of this for a relatively short time, it has been both exhilarating and rewarding. As a snapshot of where we’ve come from, to where we’re going, I hope this provides some insight and I am very much looking forward to what more the future holds for us in working together.
Happy birthday, SWW!
Anthony Belcher, Director General, The Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners
This article was submitted to be published by The Society of Willwriters 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.