by Tony Vidler
Thinking differently would seem to be an obvious thing to do if one wanted to be different. If you wanted your advisory firm to stand out from competitors it would make sense to do something different too. So thinking differently and then be different seems to be a pretty straightforward way to begin being seen as different.
Having just read through the FPA 2016 Trends in Practice Management (Understanding and Driving Client Value) Report – which is excellent by the way – one of the standout issues for advisor firms for the next few years is “being able to effectively communicate my/our value to prospects”. It is either important (25%) or critical (73%) for virtually all survey respondents. This is perhaps not surprising when the survey also revealed that 98% of the respondents also indicated that getting clear on what value they provide to clients was an important matter to resolve also.
One can always argue about the validity of any survey of course, however 706 respondents is a good sample group, and for 98% of them to cite a single issue that is not regulation, pricing pressure, remuneration models, robo-advisers or anything else consuming all the headlines suggests that this is indeed a significant challenge for industry participants.
Here is one simple tip for trying to wrestle this problem into some sensible and useful strategy: stop thinking like a financial adviser when you are trying to figure out what value you provide.
Turn all the questions, issues, ideas, service offers – everything – 180 degrees…..Think differently. Think about everything that you consider when trying to figure out your value proposition from the customers perspective. Look at it from the other direction entirely and it should start to become a little clearer about what is valuable.
Wonderfully detailed reports with wads of research and colourful pie charts? Who cares. It’s boring, and I don’t have time to read it, and all I wanted to know was where to put my savings so they will grow at a decent rate and not get lost in the next market catastrophe.
A statement of advice chocka-block full of generic descriptions of different types of insurance policies? Who cares. That’s boring too, and besides, I don’t care about insurance….I just want money to turn up for my family if I can’t keep bringing the money in.
…you get the point hopefully!
The typical consumer doesn’t care about the stuff that is interesting to those sitting inside the industry. They typical consumer wants a result. They are seeking advice because they want a particular thing to be achieved…..there is a future outcome that they want, and they are looking for help on how to achieve it.
Think about how you help people achieve the outcomes they want. Think about how you make sure the things that they care about are resolved. Think about the stuff they care about….and then figure out what it is that you do to deliver the solutions. Therein lies the answer to beginning to figure out what value a firm delivers to client. THEN the small matter of how to communicate that value to them can be dealt with.
To figure out what your prospective clients value, think like them to begin with. That requires a bit of different thinking, but it is critical to being able to connect with them.
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