Dogwood Wealth Management makes estate planning an annual conversation with Vanilla

When Jason Newcomer and Eric Sheerin decided to leave established firms and build one of their own, they wanted to do things differently. Not only did they want to deliver greater value for clients, they wanted to do it for an even larger book of business. Traditional wisdom dictates advisors need to choose quality or quantity, but Newcomer and Sheerin believed they could achieve both with the help of the right technology.


The missing link to an exceptional client experience

In Newcomer’s previous firm, as the director of financial planning, he was tasked with bringing the business’s many specialties together to build a more consistent client experience. He successfully worked with in-house CPAs to improve the way they provided consistent tax planning to clients and he strategized with in-house and independent brokers to create better insurance policy offerings. With the help of a suite of tech solutions, he was able to help the firm develop processes that were not only valuable to clients, but also scalable for the firm.

“We were able to utilize Holistiplan and FP Alpha for tax planning, and we had eMoney, FP Alpha, MoneyGuide Pro and RightCapital that enabled us to do needs analysis,” said Newcomer.

But when it came to estate planning, he hit a roadblock. There was simply no product on the market that could deliver the quality he was looking for in a way that could be rolled out consistently across the entire portfolio. So advisors would do what they could manually and send clients to their estate attorney partners.

“We were dropping their assets in Excel docs and creating flow chart PowerPoint slides by hand. It wasn’t pretty,” he said.

A new approach

So when Newcomer launched his own firm, he was determined to find a better way to handle estate planning. He wanted to do it well, but he also knew that owning a firm would mean being pulled in many different directions, and to do estate planning right, he would need the help of technology. That’s when he found Vanilla.

Vanilla enabled Dogwood to present clients with holistic estate plans brought to life with graphs and flowcharts that made sense to them and helped guide the conversations.

Forging relationship with kids, grandkids

Vanilla has also helped Dogwood make connections with the next generation. Advisors offer clients the option of going through their estate plan with beneficiaries so that they understand how the estate is structured and know who has power of attorney and other important roles.

“We tell them we’re happy to cut the visualizations off at the waterfall, so they just see the flow and not the numbers. We use the Vanilla diagram to guide the conversation. It’s given us a helpful look into family dynamics.”

Today, estate planning powered by Vanilla is one of the cornerstones of Dogwood’s yearly client engagements. In addition to meetings on wealth management, insurance and taxes, every year, Dogwood has a client meeting solely focused on estate planning. Their focus on holistic financial and estate planning underpinned by technology that allows the firm to work efficiently (as well as bring the information to life visually for clients) helps drive Dogwood’s continued growth and client satisfaction.

To learn more about how Dogwood makes estate planning a key part of its offering and creates efficiencies using technology, watch the on-demand webinar here.

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