Professional Credibility & the “Trust Me…I am experienced” line
Financial Advice & Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Value Proposition

Professional Credibility & the "Trust Me...I am experienced" line

April 13, 2018

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

How many times have you heard a professional claiming that a client should trust them and deal with them because they have X number of years experience?  Does this “years of experience” thing really translate into professional credibility?


Cynical consumers increasingly ask themselves “do you really have 20 years experience, or just 1 years experience 20 times over?


Or worse; “do you just have 20 years of not being caught out being a bad’un?


In previous decades there was undoubtedly a credibility link between the number of successful years of practice and the consumers ability to place faith in the professional.  However, with increasing cynicism generally driven by increased public knowledge and scrutiny of business practices, conflicted advice and historically low competency requirements, the “years of experience” do not carry the weight that many professionals attribute to them.


If we are really honest marketing your expertise on the basis of (say) having been in the career for 30 years just gives them an indication of your age in reality doesn’t it?  It doesn’t give consumers any specific information about your capability, or specialty, or areas of excellence.  It gives no sense of whether it has been 30 years of staying just on the right side of the rules, or 30 years of building a stellar reputation as a world leader in your discipline.  It is just a number without context.  30 years.


Big deal.


In the continual search for meaningful differentiators which prospective customers can understand and use when weighing up their professional advice choices, merely expressing the years of undetected skullduggery doesn’t cut it.



It is far more relevant for a customer if you highlight numbers that give them an insight into how those years have been used, and how ones professional competency has grown.  That carries the potential be be a potential point of differenced.  So instead of merely claiming X years of experience, it becomes far more relevant to cite specifics.


For example:

  • I have been a Certified Financial Planner for the last 12 years of my 15 years in the business.  I began studying for my CFP designation when entering the industry, and qualified within 3 years at first attempt, which less than 40% of CFP applicants achieve.  Since achieving this professional designation I have been committed to improving my professional competency with a minimum of 30 hours ongoing technical learning each year.


  • I entered the business in 1986, and immediately learned how to work in the most incredible bull market of all time, followed by the most intense bear market of all time. MY apprenticeship through those years has resulted in me subsequently safely steering more than 500 clients to achieving their retirement goals since that time.


  • As a CFA I have undergone XX hours of formal learning, passed XX exams and have been a practicing member of the Institute for 14 years. I am an acknowledged expert in technical  investment analysis and portfolio construction.


Each of these conveys significantly more credibility than a bald claim of how many years one has earned a living in the industry or profession.


To create credibility professionally one has to be prepared to explain what the professional experience means, or what you have achieved during that time.  This is not crass self-promotion – it creates meaningful context for customers to help them understand the relevance of your experience.


This approach will be far more meaningful to the market at large than the standard approach of “trust me…I have X years experience” and it will result in greater success.


You might also be interested in this related article:
No Value Proposition? Then how will prospects decide who to choose?
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