STEP, the professional association for practitioners who advise families across generations, today celebrates 30 years of being at the forefront of change in the inheritance planning industry by setting high standards and promoting education for trust and estates advisers worldwide.
The organisation, whose 20,000-strong global membership comprises lawyers, accountants, trustees and others who help families plan for their futures, is marking the anniversary with an event reflecting on the changing public policy landscape and STEP’s ongoing work to constructively engage with policymakers globally to ensure policy decisions are well informed and made with the public interest at heart.
STEP was founded in Baker Street, London, in July 1991, when John Major was prime minister, the average UK home was worth GBP57,959 (compared to GBP256,000 today), and Tim Berners-Lee was about to publish the world’s first website, describing the World Wide Web and how to use it.
One of STEP’s early achievements was the development of a set of clear, non-technical clauses for practitioners to include in wills they prepare (the STEP Standard Provisions), which were quickly adopted into England and Wales law and are now the industry norm.
In the decades since, STEP has evolved continuously to meet the needs of its members and the families they advise in the face of rapid social, technological, financial and familial changes. From digitalisation and globalisation to increasing longevity and complex family structures, STEP works to ensure its members are positioned to provide the highest standards of advice to their clients as they plan their financial futures.
Today, STEP has members in over 100 countries and remains at the cutting edge of the latest public policy changes in wills, trusts and tax, from leading the charge on inheritance tax reform in the UK parliament to playing an instrumental role in changing the law in 2020 to enable the digital witnessing of wills via video call during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Mark Walley, CEO of STEP, says: “The last 30 years have seen incredible social, technological and financial changes. Families today are bigger and more international than ever, creating increasingly complex financial planning needs. Meanwhile, shifting regulation and the rise of digital assets has altered the wealth landscape considerably.
“STEP has grown from humble beginnings to become a truly international body, with more than 21,000 members in over 100 countries. What has not changed, however, is our mission to inspire confidence in families planning their assets across generations.
“As we look to another 30 years of change, STEP will continue to set best practice and drive industry standards so our members can provide the tailored advice, backed by deep professional knowledge, which remains at the heart of the value they provide to families.
Looking forward, STEP’s international and multi-disciplinary expertise means it is well placed to lead the conversation on topics of global importance, including:
- Digital assets – their growth, their increasing significance within estate-planning and their treatment on death and incapacity;
- The evolving nature of the ‘modern family’ and the associated legal and planning complexities;
- The benefits of responsible stewardship of wealth to advisors, to families and to governments globally;
- The changing nature and dynamics of mental capacity – a critical topic with increasing longevity in populations globally.