by Tony Vidler
There are many ways to be valuable to clients, and a frequently overlooked aspect of value is simply maing clients lives easier for them.
A massive opportunity exists for advisers to remove complexity from their clients lives, and in turn, be valued for the advice and convenience they deliver to clients. Too many advisers just aren’t terribly good at making that their focus, or telling the story of how they do that to the market. And it is an opportunity area for thos advisers wanting to move away from being “product-centric” to “advice-centric”
Where does one start on this journey to becoming valued as an adviser, or a financial coach, instead of a product-deliverer? Maybe by focussing on the “service” part of “professional services”….
You have to work out where you make a client’s life easier, and while there are an enormous number of opportunities for anyone in professional services to do that, there are 3 logical and fairly easy places to begin thinking about how you might express that you actually do that for clients.
1. Convenience. How do you make your service or advice more convenient? Think of ways you save the client time and hassle, or give them more free time, or condense technical information into easily digestible pieces that they can grasp quickly. 24/7 help lines are of higher value to potential clients than a firm which insists on clients ringing a receptionist during conventional office hours 5 days a week.
2. Communication. How do you simplify the information flow, and how do you deliver it in ways that the clients prefer to receive them? The mediums that you can choose to deliver information, and the frequency, or the technology…they are all potential points of differentiation and added value for clients. For example; an adviser working with expatriates who reside in different parts of the world will be perceived to be delivering higher value if they were working with video technology to conduct meetings whereby they can complete documents (with signatures) on screen in real time as opposed to snail-mailing forms to be filled in and returned the same way.
3. Accessibility. How easy is it for clients to reach you, and how often do you meet or talk personally to them? There is a distinct correlation between frequency of personal contact and how the relationship is valued by the client. As a rule of thumb; more frequent contacts of shorter duration tends to be valued more (e.g. 5-10 minutes on the phone every 6-8 weeks will generally strengthen the relationship and perceived value more so than a single 1.5 hour meeting once per year – yet the time commitment for both is the same).
This simple framework is by no means the entire client service proposition, and nor is it in itself THE thing that will suddenly have an adviser seen as highly valuable. It is the framework for beginning to express points of difference and higher value for clients which is not rooted in the more traditional product solutions or market performance promises.
A relatively easy first step along the path to being highly valued as an adviser is in making things as easy as possible for clients in the areas where it makes commercial sense for you to do so. Be valuable to them simply because yoiu make their life work better. Making life easier for clients by removing complexity and inconvenience wherever possible from their lives and then marketing those differences is how one can begin to become more valuable in their eyes.