Value Propositions: Do your clients truly understand your value...and do you?
By Mark Bradley - May 26, 2022
This is part of a series of blog posts in which Edden Kift (as my co-author) and I will attempt to examine and unpack some of the common areas of practice management which financial advisers, who are often also business owners, need to act upon on as they strive to build and run a world class financial advice practice and deliver a superior client experience.
Quite a while back I was approached by one of our adviser partners who appeared quite flustered. The subsequent discussion revolved around the fact that a retired investor who had been a client for some time had requested a meeting with him on the back of a proposal he had received from another adviser. The investor had taken it a step further and approached a third adviser for a proposal as well. The existing adviser seemed to take it with some disbelief but also very personally. I asked him two questions:
Do you truly understand your value and are you able to articulate it?
Does your client truly understand the value you add?
What followed was a lengthy discussion about understanding the value an adviser adds, both from the perspective of the adviser and, even more importantly, the client.
In a competitive environment, defining your value proposition as a financial adviser is ever more crucial to stand out from the pack and stay relevant but it is not an easy task due to the intangible nature of what it is that you do for clients.
Your value proposition is about your clients, what you do for them and ultimately how you make them feel, it is not simply about the AUM of your business or how many qualifications you and your team have. Do they feel calmer and in control of their current circumstances and their projected future? Do they feel better informed and more confident they can navigate an unpredictable future? Do they avoid making common behavioral mistakes due to your ongoing advice? These are all examples of what feeds into a value proposition.
Research and Opinion
According to Pershing research on advisor value propositions, the strongest value propositions combine four distinct elements: attributes of the firm, benefits to the client, a rational argument, and an emotional component.
Having a clearly defined value proposition will help you better articulate what you do for clients which will assist in growing your business through more effective client acquisition and retention. It will also help inform your marketing and branding as your value proposition will likely point towards client segments that you are best suited to serving.
This blog from Kitces.com points to “what may be the best set of terminology I’ve ever heard for articulating the true client-centric value proposition of financial planning” from Mitch Anthony. That is:
As Kitces says, while the words themselves are not necessarily new and unique, Anthony’s use of them, along with explanations of exactly what the adviser provides, paint a remarkably clear picture of what the intangible service of financial planning is meant to provide, and why it’s worthwhile for consumers to pay for a financial planner.
We believe there is nothing more powerful than hearing the views and suggestions of other advice practitioners so in 2020, we at PortfolioMetrix surveyed almost 200 advisers across Ireland, the UK and South Africa and ran a round table discussion to attempt to identify and isolate what advisers regard as the most valuable elements of their service to clients.
The result of this is a whitepaper which is free to download entitled The Insiders’ Guide to the Value of Advice where we sought to set out a practical roadmap for advisers to define their value proposition. From the discussions we’ve had with advisers, it’s clear there are many ways to tackle this task. However, there is consensus around the need to articulate the intangible.
While it’s easy to focus on the tangible and more quantifiable aspects of your advice, like rebalancing, tax aware investment advice or inheritance tax planning other important elements are often overlooked. Taking time to record all the benefits you provide to clients, from the peace of mind you bring them by managing their finances, to the opportunities to ensure they have considered how their financial situation impacts different aspects of their lives (there is a list of over 20 benefits in the white paper), will provide a valuable resource for you to share with clients.
A simple survey of clients may provide an indication of what your value proposition is and the unique characteristics with which clients identify in their dealings with an advisory practice. Simply ask clients the following question at the next review or during the next telephone conversation:
“With which single attribute do you most associate [name of your firm]?”
Keep a record of the answers. Hopefully words such as trust, service, care, friendly, honest, confidence, courteous, etc. will appear on the list. Use the top three to five terms when designing or reviewing your value proposition. Clients are likely to identify more positively with your firm and its services and more positively identify your value-add.
So, it makes good sense to engage with your clients to see what they say they value and check that against your own views.
Seeking insights from your clients will:
Provide the ideal opportunity to contact them to remind them of the value you add.
Enable you to understand what they most value from your relationship.
Give you the opportunity to make changes to your offering that will lead to strengthened relationships and even happier clients in the future.
Importantly, and perhaps a less well recognised benefit is that it will enable you and your team to fully appreciate what you do and the impact it has on clients – a crucial motivating element to continue with the great work that is proper financial advice.
If you are interested in participating in a series of idea sharing calls where we will discuss the topics contained in this blog post in more detail, where you can share your experiences with peers who are on different stages of their journey as a business, then please register your interest by emailing email@example.com