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.
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;
- They want someone to just manage everything because they don’t want to (for whatever reason). Here, they want help with organization.
- They want to do some of it themselves, but want someone experienced to guide and teach them. Here, they want to be educated.
- 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.
- They want someone to take the stress out of their lives. Here, they want you to be proactive.
- 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.
- 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”.