Balentine Deepens Client Relationships to Provide Increased Value with Vanilla

Balentine, an employee-owned wealth management firm, delivers holistic financial advice to connect deeply with their clients and provide increased value.  Estate planning plays an essential role in their business, and they’ve partnered with Vanilla to up-level their delivery of estate planning advice to their clients, differentiate their offering and demonstrate opportunities for prospective clients.

Building deep client relationships

Wealth management is about relationships.  And since 1987, Balentine, an employee-owned wealth management firm based in Atlanta, Georgia and Raleigh, North Carolina, has built the kind of client relationships that would be the envy of most firms.  Advisors at Balentine pride themselves on going beyond the transactional to connect with and deeply understand the client – from family dynamics across generations to their needs and the complexities surrounding their wealth. They take on the role of the financial quarterback so that if their client needs help with anything from a child going to college to a family member passing away, they will be the first person their client calls.  Balentine is always on the lookout for ways to deepen their client relationships and provide increased value.

Incorporating Vanilla into the estate planning process

Estate planning has long been an important part of Balentine’s financial planning process. They believe that the best financial advice is delivered holistically, and that estate planning plays an essential role. They partnered with Vanilla to uplevel their delivery of estate planning advice to their clients to continue delivering (as their tagline suggests) a wealth of perspective. 

Balentine began by using Vanilla to help guide their yearly estate planning conversations with their clients. Vanilla helped advisors and their clients analyze their current estates and check that everything is in line with their wishes.  Estate planning can be overwhelming to clients, and Balentine looked to Vanilla to help make the experience more intuitive.

“The visuals, detailed summaries and client-friendly presentations within Vanilla make client conversations easier.  My clients also appreciate having a deliverable that they can reference and share with family members so they can be aware of the family’s estate plan.” said Jennifer Pcholinsky, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, ACCREDITED ESTATE PLANNER® designee, and Associate Relationship Manager at Balentine.

Prospecting and winning with Vanilla

Jennifer and her team soon found that Vanilla’s value went beyond helping existing clients. They began to use the platform to help differentiate their offering and demonstrate opportunities for improvement when meeting prospective clients.  One individual came to them outlining gaps in his existing estate plan, which was extremely complex with numerous businesses, outside investments, properties, and cars.  When the Balentine team put his estate plan and balance sheet into Vanilla, it immediately identified numerous issues in his plan worth discussing. Balentine then guided the prospect through the observations and recommendations, helping understand the nuances of each recommendation. 

With Vanilla, they were able to calculate his estimated estate tax liability, which showed them that if something happened to him today, he would owe over $20 million in taxes.  This summary page also highlighted a liquidity issue with his assets.  Since most of his assets were illiquid, they discovered his estate would not have enough cash to pay the estate taxes.  Additionally, they noticed that he hadn’t taken advantage of the existing federal estate exemption which is scheduled to sunset in 2026. 

“Using Vanilla during this meeting was extremely powerful in helping us guide a family through a recommendation we were making at the time they were considering Balentine,” said Jennifer.  In addition to giving a holistic view of the client’s assets using the Estate Overview, they could showcase exactly how his assets would flow upon his death with the Waterfall.  They were also able to identify items in the current estate plan that needed to be updated using the Opportunities section.  “This type of analysis was eye opening for our prospect, and now new client, who then worked with our team to restructure his entire estate plan.” 

Delivering future results

For Balentine, Vanilla has proven an important asset to clients and advisors alike. Balentine plans to continue using the platform to enable more meaningful estate planning conversations – and to use Vanilla as a key differentiator as they speak to new prospective clients– showing them what it means to get a truly complete financial picture.


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