Long overdue innovation is coming to the fiduciary services sector following leading provider Perpetual Guardian’s acquisition of My Bucket List for an undisclosed sum. The purchase of the online wills platform confirms Perpetual Guardian as the industry’s innovator in digital services, and the platform itself will facilitate the expansion of fiduciary services to tech-savvy but under-protected younger New Zealanders.
Two new surveys commissioned by Perpetual Guardian indicate the breadth of the generation gap when it comes to estate planning, but offer the encouraging news that New Zealanders of all ages are open to using the internet to make, store and update wills and accomplish other estate-planning tasks.
A total of 750 New Zealanders were surveyed through GrownUps and nzgirl.co.nz. Of the 360 GrownUps respondents, who were predominantly aged between 60 and 80, 93% reported that they have a will. Conversely, 75% of the 390 nzgirl respondents (60% of whom were aged 21 to 35 and only 20% of whom were over 40), said they do not have a will.
The response of all those surveyed to a question about online options for estate planning indicates that New Zealanders are ready for web-based fiduciary services. To a question about whether they would be willing to store a will securely online and access it similarly to how they would a bank account, 41% of nzgirl respondents answered ‘yes’ and another 41% said ‘maybe’. The GrownUps respondents were nearly as receptive, with a total of 61% saying ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’.
Perpetual Guardian’s managing director Andrew Barnes says the decision to acquire My Bucket List stemmed from the company’s desire to remove the barriers to estate planning.
“As an industry, we bear a responsibility for these poor statistics. For too long, New Zealanders have seen getting a will and complementary documents as just too hard. Our purpose is to make it accessible and affordable for all. Our vision is to make will-making as easy as setting up a KiwiSaver account or buying an insurance policy, and the updating of a will as simple as setting up a bill payment online. It should be no more complicated or time-consuming than internet banking, but provide the same level of security, privacy and flexibility.”
The My Bucket List footprint will be retained and all members of that site will continue to engage through that platform on Perpetual Guardian’s proprietary will-focused site, willtolive.co.nz. Visitors to the site can access an online will and instructions for enduring powers of attorney.
Mai Chen says her goal in establishing My Bucket List was to encourage all New Zealanders to have a will and to remind them to live their current lives to the full. “I wanted to create a portal to make it simple for Kiwis to find support in living their lives to the full while obtaining the protection needed to ensure their wishes would be fulfilled after their deaths.
“I am very pleased the site is in the hands of Perpetual Guardian, which has the energy and expertise – and most importantly, the technological capability – to realize our shared goal that no New Zealander should die without a will.
“Our historical low rate of protection affects generations and changing the statistics requires real innovation and expertise that Perpetual Guardian has.”
Perpetual Guardian has invested heavily in developing a digital service to bring fiduciary services into the 21st century. Mr Barnes says while the services of lawyers, accountants and financial planners remain critically important in the wider sector, estate planning has lagged behind the demands of consumers, who have sophisticated expectations of service providers.
“When banking went online there were naysayers, but try to imagine a world without it now. Fiduciary services must evolve in the same way, so that wills can be made, stored and updated with absolute security at the click of a mouse.”