$500 billion: That’s the amount of money that moves around from both non-real estate inheritances and life insurance settlements every year in the US. And with so many assets in transition and the broad interest in customer experience in financial services, it’s tempting to think that banks, insurers, and wealth managers recognize a great opportunity when they see it. Often, that’s not the case. Too many financial services providers:

  • Focus on forms, not condolences. Visit a few life insurance or banking websites, and it’s not hard to see the problem with the beneficiary or survivor experience. For the saddest of life events, firms including AIG, Citibank, and Securian offer no words of condolence, instead pointing a family member to a form library. Worse, Cigna’s website begins the process of a group life claim with a fraud warning that the visitor must acknowledge before being allowed to start the claim. U.S. Bank burdens its web visitors by making them click through three pages of search results to find out how the process of closing accounts or transferring balances works.
  • Fail to recognize that this is the rarest of claims. The most common claim — auto insurance — happens on average about every seven years yet still stresses the claimant. Life events such as the death of a family member happen far less. That means family members are left to find trusted resources to help them navigate this rare situation. John Hancock, Northwestern Mutual, Prudential, and others have developed helpful videos that walk the family member through the process, as well as checklists that guide family members through all notifications and to-dos to be addressed.
  • Let funds walk out the door. When financial service providers treat a death as a transaction, the opportunity to hold on to that asset, investment, or life insurance distribution is lost. Now’s not the time to lose capital like this. The COVID-19 crash means that insurers and banks will likely be under regulator pressure to bolster their financials. Instead, treat the account closing, transfer, or life insurance distribution as a retention opportunity.

Forrester dug into the opportunity; looked at good, not-so-good, and best practices; and developed seven steps for financial services providers to act on the opportunity to retain and grow the legacy of customers’ assets. Forrester clients can click to view the reports and podcasts, and we’d welcome opportunities to discuss our thinking in an inquiry, which you can schedule here.