US Trust expands financial empowerment programme

US Trust, the private wealth management arm of Bank of America, has expanded its Financial Empowerment Programme to address risks to family wealth in an online world.

As part of the expanded programme, US Trust has developed interactive learning and discussion guides to help clients and their children or heirs protect the value of their digital assets, online reputation, privacy and security.
“From social media profiles to online banking and digital photos, virtually everyone today has a digital footprint that can have a profound effect on their personal, professional and financial lives,” says Chris Heilmann, US Trust’s chief fiduciary executive. “Digital assets have value beyond their monetary worth and need a plan to protect them. Increasingly, our clients are asking for tools and advice to prepare themselves and the next generation from emerging risks. Managing digital assets is now an essential part of the modern wealth management and planning process.”
The programme is a set of educational resources and interactive learning tools on a range of topics from the principals of savings, investing and estate planning to sophisticated wealth structuring, credit and finance strategies. The programme was developed to help clients’ family members prepare for receipt and stewardship of family money, with an eye toward the distinct circumstances and complexities that increased wealth can bring.
The expanded programme was created based on client feedback and proprietary research that shed a light on deficiencies in digital asset estate planning and the need to address risk in a digital world.
According to the 2013 Insights on Wealth and Worth, the latest of US Trust’s annual studies of high net worth families, more than six in 10 (63 per cent) high net worth individuals have not outlined wishes and instructions for their digital assets and 45 per cent have not organised passwords for accessing digital accounts and files.
The programme now includes learning modules for the following:
• Protecting digital assets: An overview of digital assets, including online personal, social, financial and business assets, and their monetary, sentimental and “good steward” value. Included is an in-depth exploration of trust and estate issues related to digital assets and privacy laws surrounding them, including ownership of and access to social media sites, photos, health records, loyalty programs, business intelligence and other confidential information.
• Managing online reputation: How and why online information, whether its self-posted or posted by friends, family, employees, the news media or other third parties, can affect everything from getting into the right school or job to business and legal dealings to personal relationships. Action steps provide ways to proactively monitor and manage online presence, protect and secure confidential Information and clear up mistakes or inaccuracies.
• Identity theft: How to recognise and avoid identity theft and fraud risks, such as computer and device hacking and phishing, dumpster diving, telemarketing schemes, charity scams and inheritance scams. The module includes actions steps for what to do if personal information is compromised or identity theft is suspected. In addition, a “Digital Inventory Worksheet” is available to aid in organising and managing a digital footprint.
US Trust clients’ children and grandchildren can get started in the Financial Empowerment Programme through their US Trust advisor who will work with them to identify values and goals and diagnose gaps in financial knowledge. Participants then receive a customised programme that can be delivered online, in one-on-one sessions or in groups for the entire family.

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