by Tony Vidler
The perennial challenge in selling advice is positioning it as valuable, and we should think about it and describe it the right way: great advice is about coaching. It IS coaching.
Giving advice is all about analysing the desired outcomes for clients, weighing up the possibilities, deciding on the optimal way forward and then managing the behavioural change required by the clients to achieve the desired outcome. That was a bit of a mouthful, but that is really the entire advice process in a single sentence. If we were to condense that sentence further, we’d come up with “financial advice is actually about coaching clients to win what they want”.
When we break it down into its simplest language it becomes meaningful to most clients too, as they understand the difference that coaching makes. They’ve watched all the champion sports teams, and they’ve had coaches themselves at different times in their lives, and they understand mentoring and guidance. Those things are perceived as valuable by most clients. “Advice” on the other hand suggests that perhaps they are about to be “told”…and suddenly the dark images of schooldays and being lectured spring to mind – and who wants to revisit those experiences?
So when we talk to clients about “advising” them, it is often perceived negatively initially. When we talk to clients about coaching it is a far more positive reception, and it also creates a bit of intrigue and interest. A very successful way of explaining it is with a simple diagram. The diagram can be shown directly to clients as a wonderful coloured chart of course, but it is more powerful when it is drawn in front of clients as it is explained. This is how to explain it, and how to position advice properly:
Pretty much everyone we deal with is on track for some level of success in their life – with or without us. They have jobs, will save some money in their retirement accounts, they will buy homes and eventually pay them off….the reality is that pretty much every potential client will achieve a level of “financial success” in their life with or without us. It is helpful for all concerned if we acknowledge that consumers can actually achieve reasonable outcomes without any particular planning or advisory involvement….they’ve been doing it for thousands of years before “financial advice” was dreamed up as a job.
But equally, we’ve known for thousands of years too that planning makes a significant difference to success in any field of endeavour.
When people plan, and focus on their desired goal and then make smarter and more thoughtful decisions about how to allocate their resources, they tend to achieve far higher levels of success. So we can see that “planning” makes a significant difference to people’s success. That is true even if it is just the clients themselves engaging in planning of their own. People with a plan generally will get more of what they want in life than those who live day to day and wait to see what the world will bring to them.
This is the same difference that exists between a naturally gifted athlete who was going to do well in sport anyway, but achieved so much more when they had a goal and a plan to achieve it. That same talented and motivated athlete will achieve even higher levels of excellence though once they get expert personal coaching. Great coaching is often the difference between olympians and provincial champions.
Great coaching brings perspective and focus. It creates accountability and responsibility. Individual coaching delivers objectivity, analytical assessment, and teaching of the refinements that make the difference between being an olympian or a local champion.
Coaching unlocks the full potential of the athlete. Similarly, great advice unlocks the potential success that clients have.
To get clients understanding what it is that great financial advisers can deliver it is as simple as showing them that there are levels of success in life. Many many consumers will achieve the success of a mortgage-free home and some savings by the time they are pushed out of the workforce…and many will be happy with that achievement. Others want more, and recognise the power of planning and the difference it makes.
Champions recognise the need for top level coaching to unleash their potential success. That is because they know that coaches bring additional knowledge and experience which they don’t yet have. This helps fast-track success for cleints. Great coaching assists in better decision-making as it brings different perspectives and identifies issues which clients probably wouldn’t think of. Really great coaches create accountatility, motivation and higher/better expectations which help accelerate goal achievement without creating emotional emotional damage. That is a significant one: great coaches make people feel better about themselves…they make them feel worthy…they get them achieving success without guilt.
Great advisers are great coaches, and unlocking the potential success for clients is what we are all about.