Financial Advisors & Value Propositions – Finding The Balance

CWA Network Blog 2018 - Advisor Marketing _ FINANCIAL ADVISORS & VALUE PROPOSITIONS

The importance of the right value proposition

As a financial advisor, you put a lot of thought and stake into your value proposition. Your brand is reflected in your value prop. In fact, your entire career can be (or should be) summed up in the value proposition you present to your clients. An excellent financial advisor does the research and puts in the time to determine what their own personal strong suits are, what they do exceptionally well in their practice, what makes them different from their competition, how that serves consumers in their chosen niche and then determine how to explain that to a client (or potential clients) in their meetings.

So, what does that look like for you? How does that sound? Do you have a value proposition written down, or do you wing it every time?

Too often, we hear advisors tell their clients and referrals that their way to serve their clients will be “tailor-made” when the client asks what the advisor can do for them. The problem with this is simple – it often comes out sounding rehearsed, robotic and repeated too many times.

Having a custom plan is obviously necessary and it’s all well and good, but telling every single client “I will solve X problems you’re having by creating a tailor-made plan” is too vague – it doesn’t invoke much confidence…and yet we see it all the time in the first meeting! In fact, by answering your client’s question that way, you’re actually doing the complete opposite of a “tailor-made” experience because you’re telling all of your clients the same thing. Would you want to hear your mechanic or your doctor answer any serious question you had about your car or your health in the same way we answer our clients?

No, definitely not.

While providing a custom-fit plan is necessary, it’s how you explain it to your client that matters and what makes you different. It’s the questions you ask to determine their pain-points. It’s how you answer their objections and concerns. Yes, by all means, give your clients a “tailor-made” planning experience but an exceptional advisor will realize that what they find valuable. Don’t offer weak and empty value propositions. Clients can see right through them.

FINANCIAL ADVISORS & VALUE PROPOSITIONS - Blog Post Quote 1_ CWA Network

As advisors, we can’t assume what our client finds valuable.

Thus, we have to ask the right questions. Generally, the major pain points for everyone falls within the following categories;

  1. They want someone to just manage everything because they don’t want to (for whatever reason). Here, they want help with organization.
  2. They want to do some of it themselves, but want someone experienced to guide and teach them. Here, they want to be educated.
  3. They want someone to give them a push for things that they are too afraid of, even if they know it’s the right thing to do. Here, they want a partnership with you.
  4. They want someone to take the stress out of their lives. Here, they want you to be proactive.
  5. They want someone to tell them how it is and when they’re wanting something irrational or illogical according to their goals. Here, they want objectivity.
  6. They want someone to keep them on track. Here, they want accountability.

Regardless of what the client finds valuable, meeting all six of these categories is necessary. Exceptional financial advisors are objective, accountable, organized and take a proactive interest in educating their clients.

For example, your younger female client may put more value into being able to take a maternity leave without worrying about a loss of income, while another younger female client is already worrying about retirement because of the state of the economy. While “money stress” is the foundation of their pain point, the actual points themselves vary considerably. The client who wants maternity leave may also be worrying about retirement (and as her fiduciary, you may be as well) but let her decide how she weights those pain points – and then help her solve them.

Hit a home run with the right value proposition

We always talk about niche marketing within the CWA Network because in our 15+ year experience, we have seen that advisors who zoom in on their talents and then research how to best put those talents into action in their practice do much better than those who don’t. Being as specific as possible makes you an expert in that one field. Jack-of-all-trades approaches don’t work well in the financial planning industry, and advisors who figure out their niche early and then act on them are often the most successful.

For example, John figured out his personality type early on (he even underwent some testing!) and then did extensive research into what other professions are complimentary personality types. From there, he determined a specific niche that would just naturally fit well with his practice and he has spent his entire career becoming an expert in those other professions – their jargon, their duties, etc, just to be able to relate to them and understand their world-views!

Imagine you’re a Lexus owner and you’re searching for mechanics to work on your vehicle. When you ask “what makes you the best mechanic for my car?” you obviously want to hear “because I specialize in this model and all my other clients are Lexus owners“. Makes sense, right? How much worse would it have sounded if their answer was instead “we are passionate about finding the right fix for your vehicle and will keep you informed”. Not as great.

Creating your value proposition doesn’t have to be complicated

In fact, the very best ones are simple and to-the-point. Every client wants an advisor who is objective, informed and accountable and has no problem educating them along the way. If your client’s pain point is needing overall money management, your proposition could be as simple as “We will review your goals and progress on those goals every six months and annually & show you the steps you need to take and educate you along the way”. If the pain point is being too afraid to take risks or make the wrong decision, “We will remain objective and ensure that you do not make emotionally-heated decisions that could cost you your goals. We will help you make rational decisions regarding your wealth”. If the pain point is not knowing what to do, “We will bring order to the chaos and educate & help you to organize all aspects of your financial life down to your discretionary income if necessary”.

What does your value proposition sound like right now? Do you ask enough questions? Do you review those pain-points regularly? 

Why Financial Advisors Become Financial Advisors

CWA Network Blog 2018 - Advisor Marketing _ Why Financial Advisors Become Financial Advisors

Financial advisors generally get into the industry because they want to help people. How did you go about choosing your career path? Our reasons from planner-to-planner may vary wildly, but the majority of us have a shared wish in common…and that is to ensure the prosperity of our fellow human beings.

Perhaps some of us came to the idea because it ran in the family & we saw first-hand effects of our dad or mom’s work in someone else’s life. Perhaps we came on hard times ourselves and wanted to never feel that way again & to help others never experience it either. Perhaps we just love finance & this was a natural fit for our personalities.

Regardless of the reason, we can all agree that it isn’t an easy career choice and it comes with a lot of struggle, especially if you’re a wide-eyed graduate. The industry can make it hard to keep the ideology alive, and the reputation our career path has developed in some parts of the world is sometimes less than lovely.

Some of the challenges may not go away for a long time. New ones are bound to pop up in the changing landscape. But it’s our job as fiduciaries to always do the right thing for our client & never let the challenges we face hinder the relationship and experience we’re trying to build with them. It’s so hard to demonstrate to people that you both want to do well & will do well, so having process & systems in place will ensure you demonstrate that despite challenges that arise, and trust us, it makes a huge difference.

There is a huge difference between service & experience

We’re from upstate New York, and there’s a locally-born grocery chain that continuously wins top customer and workplace awards (horray, Wegman’s!). Upon walking into one, it may just look like a grocery store. But once you’re inside and mosey throughout the isles and interact with the staff, you’ll notice something is different. The mood is palpable and it’s the same in almost every single store you enter. It’s been said that there’s a difference between service & experience, and that’s the truth.

Providing an experience that is unique to your brand is what gives you a competitive edge. Service is meeting a need. Experience is how your clients feel about it. When it comes to our beloved grocery chain as an example, experience is interacting with a genuinely sweet cashier who has her crisp branded uniform shirt covered in details that makes her unique personality shine. Experience is having a staff member walk you to your car if you feel unsafe. Experience is the feeling of community that comes from the people who genuinely care about your time in the store.

As an advisor, your duty is to make your clients feel secure in their financial choices. It’s our job to educate them, not to sell to them. Selling is a simple service anyone can do. Educating them must be part of your experience. How you choose to do it is up to you and your personality.

Why Financial Advisors Become Financial Advisors - Blog Post Quote | CWA Network

 

Doing the right thing isn’t always profitable

In fact, John says sometimes you might overall lose a bit of money because you’re spending effort doing something that must be done. But it’s always worth it if it’s in the best interest of your client. Talk is cheap. Effort is not. The most straight-forward way to show a client that you’re genuinely interested in them and their financial well-being is putting in the effort. If the by-product of your effort is profitable – GREAT!

The profit part is the bonus. But even if you end up losing money, understand that the effort you put in and illustrated to your client will often be returned to you, sometimes ten-fold, because they’ll understand how much it took out of you to do the right thing by them. Sometimes, it may come around in new introductions or other new opportunities because they were so impressed by your care. The bottom line is that we have to put the best interest of our clients first – always before ours.

Doing the right thing isn’t hard when you have the right tools

Our tasks only feel hard when they become mundane. While doing the right thing does take effort, it doesn’t have to be tedious. Having systems and workflows in place to remove the minutia that weighs us down during the job. It’s easier to focus on the best interest of our clients holistically when those details are taken care of by a well-developed system. You don’t have to work 16 hour days just to take care of your clients.

Be in business for freedom

Yes, you became a financial advisor because you want to help people. But part of you wanted to do it because you want to be free. You want to have the freedom to manage your own time the way you want to. You want to have the freedom to call your own shots. You want the freedom to work as many or as little days as you wish. Maybe you even want the freedom to go out completely on your own. Whatever your end-goal is for your business, developing a unique client experience that both excels and is memorable will be the cornerstone for the freedom you want for your career.

We pulled this video out from the archives! John & some of our earliest licensees (when we were still 7 Figure Advisor) talk about service vs. experience.

 

Finance and Fees: Finding the Difference Between Fee-Only vs. Fee-Based Services

CWA Network Blog 2018 - Advisor Marketing _ Fee-Based Services

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Exploring the fee-only vs. fee-based debate

A quick search of “financial planners” will result in a growing number of fee-only planners. But what exactly is fee-only? And how does that influence a potential customer when selecting a financial planner?

Another quick search of “fee-only planners” will result in definitions from places like Forbes.com and Yahoo Finance, who provide a short definition that works on the surface but doesn’t provide nearly enough information to make an informed decision. Forbes defines fee only financial planners as a “registered investment advisor with a fiduciary responsibility to act in their clients’ best interest” (1). Which leads us the burning question…shouldn’t all advisors being working in their client’s best interest?

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7 Key Factors To Build A Winning Financial Advisor Team

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This past month, our content director Kristina chatted with Andrew Hodge, Team Coordinator for Custom Wealth Management in Syracuse, NY.

The topics ranged a bit, but more focus came in when discussing the importance of a well-oiled, fully-meshed financial advisor team.Check out the interview below for what Andy believes to be the 7 Key Factors To Build a Winning Financial Advisor Team.

Kristina: Andy, great to catch up with you.
Andrew: You, too.Read More

The Financial Advisor’s Guide To SEO

The-Financial-Advisors-Guide-To-SEO

Financial Advisors + Website = Need For Great SEO

You’ve taken your practice online & have hired a team to build you a website that reflects you and your business. Congratulations!

But you’ve heard whispers…

Whispers of a thing that is three letters and sounds really techy and you have no idea what it has to do with website building.

“S-E-O”.Read More

Objection Handling – What Financial Advisors MUST Do

Objection-Handling-What-Financial-Advisors-MUST-Do

[Want our tried-and-true Telephone Approach & Objections Handling Guide for FREE? Click here…]

“I already have an advisor”.

There’s that all-too-familiar feeling again. That slight punch in the gut mixed with the unintentional face tension. It’s probably not the first nor the last time you will ever hear an objection like this. Objection handling, just like number crunching, is a fundamental part of our career as financial advisors.

…or is it?

ThinkAdvisor.com had a great article a few years ago that said, “if we do get an objection, I feel like I haven’t done a good job”. The focus around this statement was solely that the system in place should be one that the client experience is simply SO GOOD that there can’t be any objections.

And we’re all about teaching you how to provide that white-glove client experience. Handling objections with grace and ease falls right into our purview. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 
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