Many clients find it difficult to discern a difference across advisors and this thorny issue is often compounded by the common practice in the advisory business to characterize one’s competitors as less competent, less thorough and not operating in the best interest of the end client. But differentiating does not mean denigrating. Advisors must instead demonstrate qualities like stability in retaining clients and staff, history of the firm, performance, client satisfaction, and other indicators of superiority. The advisors positions should be about whom they are and what they will do to benefit the client.
How does an advisor demonstrate that they are in fact superior? Differentiation is not found in marketing. It is derived from consistently delivering a unique client experience from the moment you meet the advisor, receive their recommendations and the execution of the plans. To really do this your advisor must be recognized for something. That something could be their cost structure, or expertise in a niche, or technical superiority or being able deliver uniquely customized investment solutions.
And with many clients experiencing a crisis of epic proportions over the past few years, advisors and client’s both need to change how they think and behave as a new set of investment norms are evolving. Today’s affluent investors do not like sales people. They are looking for an advisor who wants to succeed in this changing world by being:
- Superb communicators that inspire and direct fellow team members, clients, referral alliance partners and anyone else with whom they come into contact. They must be able to gather and provide clients with sound unbiased advice and direction.
- Administrators that are the glue that hold their practice together, by overseeing proper policies and procedures, the right people in the right roles with the right responsibilities and an atmosphere of continual improvement
- Able to deliver comprehensive wealth management, by focusing on the timely and professional delivery of services promised. Regardless, of whether a particular wealth management solution is time consuming or profitable
Most advisors have gotten to this stage of their careers by delivering solid client service and by being effective communicators. They have earned the trust and respect that allows clients to turn the keys to their finances over to them, but recent events have put a serious stress on client loyalty. Advisors must be open minded about who and what they are and then seek the assistance to create a differentiating message that shows they are proactive and capable of implementing strategies that separate them from the competition.