by Tony Vidler
I was asked a simple, but loaded, question:
What is the biggest future issue for financial advisers specialising in business insurance?
I qualified my answer by saying that the biggest issue is the same one that faces all financial advisers regardless of their area of specialisation.
The biggest issue is managing the transition from product-focussed solutions to advice-based relationships, and the way to do it was to focus on removing complexity from clients lives. Product sales, or product conversations, introduce complexity….that is the thing to move away from wherever possible, and especially in the formative stages of a client relationship.
So let’s use the question I was asked to explain it:
Many advisers think putting in place an insurance policy to cover the loss of a business key person removes complexity. It doesn’t do that for most people. It actually introduces further complexity in the form of far more paperwork and jargon which is intimidating in itself, and which if not put in place correctly will actually add further complexity in the event of a claim when there are significant sums of money swirling about in the wrong directions.
The product solution in itself creates more confusion and complexity. The challenge for advisers is moving the product solution from being the focus of the engagement to being an incidental element in the engagement.
All financial advisers provide advice during the engagement however the advice component of the process is rarely valued anywhere nearly as highly as the product solution by the advisers themselves, simply because they usually get paid by the product and not for the advice component. As a result many advisers often believe that the value they create is the delivery of a product….
“I got the insurance case placed for them.”
“I found the right managed fund.”
“I found “the best” product….”
…and on it goes.
For the financial advisers providing more holistic solutions and advice, especially those in the full financial planning arena or in specialty disciplines, usually do not feel that this observation applies to them. They ONLY provide advice, right?
How does that advice look to a client?
The advice looks like a product more often than not.
It is so jargon-filled and technical that it often ceases to actually look and feel like advice…it feels more like a thesis.
This does not reduce or remove complexity from clients lives. In the same vein as the product-focused adviser we are simply introducing new concepts that typical consumers do not understand that well.
Great advice removes doubt. It provides clarity and direction. It instills confidence that a plan is likely to succeed.
These things in turn encourage client participation and engagement in working with a professional adviser.
The real value that a professional adviser provides lies within their ability to change a client’s behaviour and help them achieve an outcome they seek. It isn’t the product which provides the value. It is the ability to simplify those complex areas and then motivate a client to do something different which is valuable.
Making the transition from product-focussed practitioner or clever technician to a life-changing-coach is the advisers greatest challenge, and the key to achieving that is to simplify everything possible for the client.
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