Public/Private Partnership Launches First-Ever Virtual Academy for Estate and Wealth Planning Professionals

June 6, 2001

Michigan State University Hosts Press Conference Announcing the Academy of Multidisciplinary Practices, Inc.

  • The Academy of Multidisciplinary Practice, Inc. to provide planning professionals with cutting-edge training on wealth transfer strategies during a period of dramatic change within the financial services industry;

  • The Academy’s curriculum was developed by estate and wealth planning experts Robert Esperti and Renno Peterson, and is being accredited by The Estate and Wealth Strategies Institute at Michigan State University;

  • More than $12 trillion is expected to transfer between generations during the next two decades, fueling demand for estate and wealth planning services, including business succession and philanthropic strategies;

  • American General, one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations, is the founding sponsor of The Academy. This sponsorship underscores the company’s commitment to provide planning professionals with the highest-quality estate and wealth planning educational resources available.

Leading estate and wealth planning experts Robert Esperti and Renno Peterson and Michigan State University (MSU) today announced the first virtual professional development program for estate and wealth planners, The Academy of Multidisciplinary Practice, Inc. (The Academy). American General (NYSE:AGC – news), a leading U.S. provider of financial services, is the founding sponsor of this unique collaboration among academia, business, and planning professionals.

The Academy offers planning professionals access to an accredited, multidisciplinary curriculum on wealth planning strategies. It addresses a growing need by planning professionals for training across an array of professional specialties, including law, accounting, insurance, and philanthropy. Its curriculum prepares financial advisers to better meet the needs of clients through sophisticated estate and business succession plans and strategies for maximizing the benefits of planned giving.

“As Governor, I’m excited that Michigan is taking the lead in offering the first virtual education center for estate planners,” said Michigan Governor John Engler. “Together, American General, Michigan State University and Esperti Peterson illustrate how effective a public-private partnership can be. Michiganians are indeed a generous people, and The Academy of Multidisciplinary Practice will help more people strategically invest for their future and for Michigan’s future.”

Millions of Americans face the challenge of developing financial, retirement, and estate planning solutions for themselves and their beneficiaries. As baby boomers approach retirement years, experts predict they’ll also donate and give their wealth at an unprecedented rate to educational institutions, religious organizations, other non-profit groups, and special trusts, ushering in a “golden age of philanthropy.”

“In the next 20 years, more than $12 trillion of wealth is expected to transfer from one generation to the next,” said Robert Esperti, co-founder of The Academy. “In addition, tens of thousands of family businesses will have new owners and millions of people will donate their wealth to non-profit organizations and trusts. The Academy was founded to enable financial and legal professionals to collaborate in a multidisciplinary forum that provides clients with the highest-quality advisory counsel and service.”

The Academy’s courses will be delivered via advanced, online learning systems developed and managed by MSU, one of the leaders in Internet-based, distance learning. While The Academy is a for-profit organization, two of its partners – Esperti Peterson and MSU – also have created a related not-for-profit corporation, The Estate and Wealth Strategies Institute at MSU (The Institute). The Institute will complement The Academy’s focus on individuals and families by addressing societal issues of estate taxation and other public policy questions. In addition, the Institute will oversee and accredit course content and professional certification for courses developed by The Academy and other providers of similar professional development offerings.

“This important partnership allows MSU to provide a gateway to knowledge that is consistent with the work we’re doing as a leader in online education,” said Peter McPherson, president of MSU. “The Estate and Wealth Strategies Institute at MSU will strive to be the preeminent global policy institute for inheritance and financial planning issues, helping all of society understand the public implications of intergenerational wealth transfer.”

“We’re excited about the opportunity to support The Academy and strengthen American General’s position as both a leader in industry education and as the partner of choice for millions of Americans who look to us for help in achieving their financial goals,” said Robert M. Devlin, chairman and CEO of American General. “This ground breaking partnership will provide planning professionals across the industry with access to expert information covering every area of specialization needed to succeed in today’s marketplace.”

“As laws that govern income tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax issues change dramatically, planning professionals will need new, specialized knowledge of business, law, accounting, and regulatory issues,” said Renno Peterson, co-founder of The Academy. “The Academy responds to this need and will pull together information from the world’s foremost experts to help financial advisers interpret regulatory changes and keep abreast of the constantly changing estate and wealth planning landscape.”

About The Academy

The Academy’s curriculum consists of professional development courses and corresponding designation credentials in three areas: personal wealth planning, business succession planning, and planned giving. In addition, The Academy also provides access to other online services to provide practicing professionals with the latest materials and information. Services include:

  • Cutting-Edge Current, an online digest of estate and wealth strategies planning information;

  • Practice-Ready Tools, a guide to implementing information for new client services;

  • Expert Insights, a proprietary online forum in which The Academy’s Senior Fellows share experiences and insights with colleagues; and

  • Case-In-Point, an online encyclopedia of client-driven estate and wealth strategy questions answered by expert advisers. The encyclopedia consists of information covering law, accounting, business planning, and other fields.

About The Partners

MSU has a long history of providing access to financial knowledge in the classroom environment and is among the leading institutions to transition the educational experience to a virtual environment. The university provides e-commerce and multimedia production services to The Academy.

Robert Esperti and Renno Peterson are among the nation’s leading wealth and estate planning experts. Esperti and Peterson, partners of Esperti, Peterson, and Cahoone, a national law firm, are founders of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys and the Esperti Peterson Institute and have published numerous financial books and articles. As co-founders, they have developed the curriculum and course content for The Academy.

The Estate and Wealth Strategies Institute at MSU is the nation’s preeminent source for estate and wealth strategies education and credentialization. It serves as an exclusive think tank and accrediting body for estate and wealth planning, business succession planning, and planned giving.

American General is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations with assets of $124 billion and market capitalization of $23 billion. Headquartered in Houston, it is a leading provider of retirement services, investments, life insurance, and consumer loans to more than 12 million customers. American General common stock is listed on the New York, Pacific, London, and Swiss stock exchanges.

Press Conference Webcast

A rebroadcast of the press conference, scheduled on June 5, 2001 at 9:00 a.m. ET at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the Michigan State University campus, will be available on The Academy’s Web site at on Wednesday, June 6, 2001.