Too few advisors understand ‘the value’ of a value proposition - or how to go about creating one. But unless you identify and express your value to clients you won’t achieve success in this industry.

Because, unless prospects understand what you do and why you do it, they won’t be convinced about your worth.

In fact, without a strong value proposition, your business won’t even get out of the starting blocks - it’s the first step in building a practice.

In this post, we’ll look at the steps you need to take when creating and communicating your unique value proposition.

1 Identify what’s different about your business

Firstly, stand back and take a look at what it is that makes your service attractive to clients? What do they see? What is it about your beliefs, motives, and ethics that strikes them most?  Perhaps you’re the most caring advisor?  

Or maybe you’re a good listener. Are you, unlike other advisors, really able to listen to clients so that you understand their goals and insecurities? Do you strive to provide clients with a superior personalized service that other advisors can’t?

Or are you the most trustworthy and hardworking advisor? Do you take the time to educate your clients so they can make better decisions? 

2 Learn to express your value proposition

Once you’ve identified your value proposition you now need to find a way to communicate this to prospects.  

So that they can understand your value proposition, tell them about yourself. You don’t need to go into the minute details about your life (you certainly don’t want to bore potential clients). Simply aim to get across, in just a minute or so, who you really are - as a person. What makes you tick - and what makes you unique? 

Give prospective clients your brief backstory letting them know why you decided to enter the profession. Did something happen that inspired you to become a financial advisor? Did you see someone struggle with their finances and did this give you a desire to help others?  

Demonstrate that what differentiates you is that you’re the most caring advisor - and that what you do every day exemplifies your values.  

Speak with passion and enthuse prospects with empathy. Once prospects start to relate to what you are saying they will begin to trust you. And as we all know - trust is the backbone of a relationship. 

If you haven’t yet done so write down your personal story. Then practice it over and over until you can convey it with confidence, every time you’re in that first meeting with a prospect.  

3 Use an elevator pitch to communicate your unique value 

When you’re at a formal event or social gathering make sure you use this as an opportunity to relate your value proposition.  

Be prepared with your elevator pitch at the ready. An elevator pitch should be short and to the point and should distill into a sentence what you do, who you are, and why you’re worth hiring.

Make it no more than 10 seconds in length - and in it aim to get across who your target market is -  and how you help those people.  

Don’t simply say you’re a ‘financial advisor’. People often won’t understand what this entails. Instead, reveal that you work with wealthy families and make sure they never have to worry about taxes. Or that you prevent your clients from being poor. Or that you help people get their kids through college without having to take out a loan.  

Keep your value proposition relevant

When you’re with potential clients make sure you understand their situation so you can connect your value to their specific problem. For example, if a potential client is approaching retirement (and this is a demographic that’s particularly suitable for your practice) discuss how you love helping pre-retirees look forward to a comfortable retirement.  

Once you’ve defined your unique value proposition and learned how to relate it you will elevate your brand and start to stand out from the competition. 

Tell people ‘who’ you are, ‘what’ you do, and why you would be their perfect advisor.  

Once prospects leave your office you can create added value in their eyes by following up on the meeting promptly - and keeping your value and personality top of mind. 

One of the most valuable services you bring to the table as a financial advisor is your ability to help clients identify biases and avoid making rash decisions based on fear or other powerful emotions. According to a study by Vanguard, this behavioral coaching alone accounts for as much as half of the value you add to your client’s portfolio. 

As a financial advisor, that might not come as a surprise to you. However, a Morningstar study found that clients rarely recognize how much value your behavioral coaching adds. Most investors rank it near the bottom of their priorities when looking for a financial advisor. If it’s one of the most valuable services you can provide, why is it so often underrated by clients? 

The causes are likely threefold. First, investors don’t realize how much of their decision-making is influenced by emotion. Second, investors don’t fully understand what is meant by “behavioral coaching.” Third, financial advisors take for granted that clients do understand the meaning and value of behavioral coaching.

The good news is, as a financial advisor, you’re in the perfect position to address all three of these causes. In this article, you’ll find some helpful tips for clearly communicating what behavioral coaching is (without hurting your client’s ego) and how much value it adds.

5 Steps to Better Communicate the Value of Behavioral Coaching

This is a tricky subject to broach with your clients because it’s something that they might be sensitive about. Calling attention to someone’s blind spots or emotional decision-making can make them feel insulted or vulnerable if you don’t handle it well. 

#1 Define Behavioral Coaching

The first step to communicate this value is to define what exactly you mean by behavioral coaching. In practice, it can take several different forms, depending on the needs of each client. Some services that fall under “behavioral coaching” include:

When defining it for your client, it helps to relate it to their specific case. For example, say you have an overly cautious client who tends to err on the side of keeping way too much cash in their portfolio. You can show them how your suggested asset reallocation can provide them about the same level of risk they’re currently exposed to while increasing their returns by converting some of that cash into low-risk securities or by shifting their current investments into lower-fee ETFs to increase returns without exposing the client to more risk.

All of this falls under the category of “behavioral coaching” because this client’s overabundance of caution led them to build a conservative portfolio that didn’t effectively maximize their returns. 

#2 Frame the Topic Carefully

The biggest challenge you face in communicating the value of behavioral coaching won’t be in helping clients understand what behavioral coaching means. Instead, it will be helping clients recognize that it’s a service they could benefit from.

If you’re not careful in how you frame the subject, clients might become defensive or feel like you’re insulting their ability to make smart financial decisions.

The truth is we all have biases that can affect our decision-making. As easy as it is to point out inefficiencies or blind spots in someone else’s portfolio, it can be challenging to find them in our own. 

Make sure you frame this service more in terms of your ability to offer an objective, outside opinion. Be careful that you aren’t making the client feel inferior or incapable simply because they might have unrecognized biases.

#3 Provide Numbers

The best way to drive the point home is with real numbers. Whenever possible, include comparisons to show the differences in potential returns between two or more portfolios. For example, an aggressive growth investor might be holding on to a particular stock, despite all the red flags that this stock is more risk than it’s worth. 

Suppose you can show them a similar investment that offers comparable growth potential with less risk. In that case, you’ll have better luck convincing them to make the change than you will by just trying to explain how this is evidence of the endowment effect.

For existing clients, provide periodic reports detailing what kind of rebalancing and adjustments you’ve done to improve their portfolio’s efficiency and returns. For clients who are receptive to this kind of advice, you might even include details about which type of biases they’re most prone to and how they can be more alert to them.

#4 Open Up About Your Own Experiences with Biases

To better emphasize that having biases or being tempted to act on fear or other powerful emotions is perfectly normal, you can offer examples from your own experience. If you have an example where you gave in to fear or, better still, one where a fellow advisor had to point out a blind spot in your portfolio, use those examples.

Again, the idea is that biases are human, and it’s not that this client is especially irrational. It’s just that it’s easier for you, with your outside perspective, to recognize biases in others than it is for anybody to identify biases in themselves. 

The key is to reassure your client that behavioral coaching is something you do for all clients, even the most financially savvy ones, and provide concrete examples of what coaching looks like in action.

For more tips and ideas to better communicate the value you offer your clients, check out my post on how to talk about the value of financial advice!

As markets reel in response to the recent pandemic, the financial advisory industry faces a host of uncertainties. Clients are seeking advice and reassurance, while advisors have their own worries and investment challenges. As well as finding new ways to deal with clients, advisors have had to navigate administrative issues and furlough or even make staff redundant. 

In this post we’ll examine how the crisis is impacting financial advisors along with some ways to keep your business on track. 

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Some advisors are reporting a fall in new business

Covid-19 appears to be having a larger impact than previous market crashes. For some advisors lockdown is putting a check on new business acquisition. When questioned 62% of advisors who took part in a recent Facebook survey said they had seen new enquiries fall. 

The reason? According to many advisors it’s because new clients need to have that personal connection before they sign up. Although video calls can work well, many potential clients still like to ‘meet’ their advisor in person. 

Another reason for the decrease in demand could be because many of the catalysts to setting up new financial plans (house moves, marriages, etc.) are on hold.. 

Other advisors are seeing an increase in enquiries

The picture when it comes to new business acquisition is not the same across the board: 

While technology may be putting off some first time investors, others are actively seeking financial advice for the first time. 

Existing clients are concerned about their long-term objectives

During the pandemic advisors have been spending more time speaking with clients. According to recent research six in 10 advisors said they’ve experienced a 25% increase in inbound contact from clients. As you would expect  many clients are seeking reassurance about their investments, as well as information on self-employment and payment deferrals. 

Clients are asking whether their retirement plans are being derailed

The coronavirus is having an impact on many pre-retirees who were hoping to retire early. According to UK newspaper The Telegraph millions of investors have had significant sums wiped off their pension pot. Legal & General estimated that more than 15 million workers over 50 would have to work an extra 3 years in order to  have enough to retire on.

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At this time advisors are playing a big part in how things pan out. Their advice is pivotal in ensuring clients are adequately protected - especially if they’ve historically been taking money from higher risk funds.According to some reports there’s been a big increase in requests for fixed term annuities. This is probably down to the fact that attitudes to risk have changed.

What you can do to increase your chances of success during the pandemic

1 If a client hasn’t been in touch call them

“Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more” 

That’s according to Mark Casady, partner at Vestigo Ventures. “Customers want to know what their advisors think, and why,” “They want to experience their advisor’s confidence in the world returning to a more normal time. And small check-ins, like a simple message, count”

Despite performance blips the #number one reason clients are disappointed with their advisors is poor communication. They expect timely, reassuring and tailored communications. 

If a client hasn’t gotten on the phone to you, call them and ask if you can help. Look out for your most vulnerable clients. The FCA has stated that FAs must identify their most vulnerable clients and ensure they are getting the support they need. 

Key indicators of vulnerability include health, life events, resilience and financial capability. Look out for clients going through a divorce as well as those who’ve become recently unemployed.  Check both they - and you - are confident their current financial plan is still fit for purpose. 

3 Keep clients informed

The next few months are unlikely to be easy so re-visit client communication plans. Produce content to educate and reassure clients and keep them regularly updated about events. 

4 Learn how to host the best client meetings 

There are some things you can do to increase your chances of success, not least by making your virtual meetings with clients as productive as possible. 

4  Make the most of your free time

If you have more time on your hands why not use it wisely to invest in training? You could consider gaining a specialist qualification on, say, pension transfers or long term care - or use this time to get the next level FA qualifications. 

5 Move processes online

Make use of existing technology. As well as a CRM and financial planning tools make use of apps e.g. for admin or documentation processes to enable remote working both now and in the future.

If you step up your level of service, clients will remember you for helping them through uncertain times. When the current crisis is over they’ll look to you for help in rebuilding for the future and they will be more likely to refer you to family and friends as a trusted advisor. 

It’s difficult enough keeping clients invested throughout routine market downturns. At the moment, however, we’re experiencing exceptional levels of market decline - creating unprecedented panic and fear among investors. 

As a financial advisor, you must focus on allaying your clients’ concerns. You also need to find ways to continue growing the business; that’s not an easy balancing act. 

In this post, we’ll look at ways to survive these challenging times and keep your business on track. 

Keep in touch with your clients

During the Covid-19 pandemic, clients have been bombarded with negative news and opinion. This immediately changes their perspective. All they can think about is the loss of momentum. They picture a market that’s going nowhere but down; they start to think that they’re doing the wrong thing by staying invested.

To help overcome your clients’ reaction to the falling markets help them keep in mind that, while the Covid-19 virus may be new, volatile markets are not. 

Give them a historical perspective. Reinforce the fact that Wall Street has always ‘climbed a wall of worry’. People who stay invested even in the worst markets tend to do better than those that don’t.

Take charge of clients’ expectations

When clients feel insecure you need to step up and take charge of their expectations. Stop short term market volatility from shifting their focus away from their long-term plans. Remind clients that their plan - based on their goals and risk tolerance - was designed specifically for them and it still makes sense to stick with it.

When markets contract, your clients require a reassuring presence. Tell them that there’s no reason to panic. Manage their behavior – so they can sail through periods of volatility without throwing in the towel.

They hired you to worry so that they don’t have to. Make them see that they can trust you to do the right thing by them. You can and will help them achieve that comfortable retirement they long for.

Staying invested doesn’t mean doing nothing 

Human nature dictates that when catastrophe hits we want to act - it’s a case of ‘fight or flight’. Doing nothing goes against the grain. While you want to keep clients invested that doesn’t mean simply sitting back and taking no action. 

This could be a good time to sit down with clients and discuss other financial and tax planning opportunities. Re-running their projections for retirement etc. may highlight adjustments that need to be made. 

By helping clients adjust their personal budgets, and making contingency plans, they will feel you’re managing their investments proactively. This will reassure them and give them confidence you’re looking after their money wisely. 

Despite the crisis, you still need to grow your business

This is one of the most challenging tasks of all: Focusing on current clients whilst attempting to scale your business. Your time is a valuable commodity so you need to apportion it correctly when it comes to looking after your existing clients and finding new ones.

You may not want to reach out to potential clients at this time but let prospects know you’re still open for business.

Position yourself as a thought-leader by hosting online seminars. Update your website with helpful information and news. Publish relevant blog posts along with data e.g. to show how stocks have dipped and rallied over the last 100 years (to illustrate market recoveries). 

When prospects come to you - follow up promptly

Most financial advisors are not happy with cold-calling during the crisis. However, you may find you’re seeing an increase in the number of calls you’re getting from prospective clients. Some clients may be unhappy with their current advisors and are thinking of changing. Others may be sitting on the sidelines with cash and need to discuss their options. 

When a prospect attempts to contact you via your website, social media, or via any other means, aim to respond within one hour. If you can respond more quickly so much the better. This shows you’re on top of things and that you see their queries as a priority. 

Prepare for a virtual meeting by sending out an accurate agenda. And once the meeting’s over send out a follow-up email asap with a recap of the conversation and include action items. Make use of automation to ensure you create and send documentation in a timely fashion. 

During these stressful times, you need to emphasize your unique value to clients. By maintaining close contact with them, making adjustments as necessary - and helping them stay focused on the bigger picture you will provide them with peace of mind. 

And, while you may not be actively prospecting at the moment, make sure prospects can find you. When potential clients get in touch, engage with them quickly and efficiently. This will give you the best chance of winning their business in the future. 

Our CEO, Anand, was graciously invited by Todd Uterstaedt to share his learnings on creating a startup and the challenges that come with that. Todd has an amazing podcast (check it out here: From Founder to CEO Podcast) from many famous CEOs, including Eric Yuan of Zoom and Seth Godin. You should subscribe to his podcast for amazing insights.

You can listen here for Anand's podcast or click on a link below to listen on your favorite app.

From Founder to CEO - Anand Sheth

Listen & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

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Listen on Todd's website: https://fromfoundertoceo.com/336-anand-sheth/

I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the current Coronavirus environment that we all find ourselves grappling with. Like many of you, I have gone through uncertain times - DotCom bust and subsequent recession of 2001, September 11, Enron, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, SARS, Swine Flu, Ebola, MERS, 2008-2009.

However, unlike most of you in the startup community, I have had a perspective from the retail investment world. I worked as a financial advisor, did compliance and operations for big and small financial advisory practices through all of those events. I had front row seats, seeing and dealing with clients when markets go volatile due to uncertainty.

And without fail, the news media and pundits utter these words "This time it is different!" And yet, in my experience, it all ends up being the same. Markets go back to normal, and businesses start picking up steam.

Not making light of the fact of where we are today and what may be coming; #Coronavirus seems much deadlier and dangerous. Just know that this too shall pass and as startups, we will come out - bruised perhaps, but we will.

Stock Markets will stabilize, and Angels/VCs will pick up speed to invest if they are going on a hiatus. After all, it is in everyone's interest to produce value for their respective stakeholders.

In different ways, we all are in precarious positions with our businesses as startups. Yet, as entrepreneurs, it is in our blood to find a way. It is not what anyone else does that matters, but what we do today that will determine our future.

Think hard about your businesses...how can you be in a position to take advantage and be ready to roar? There are opportunities.

While everyone else may be slowing down or giving up, take this opportunity to send out emails to folks you want to make contact with. You know they are not in meetings or have a lighter schedule.

This reminds me of my favorite motivational speaker's quote:

##53BC31 "It's not what happens, it's what you do."

Jim ROHN

And if you don't want to listen to two hours of his amazing motivational speech, check out the video for an example of two salespeople on a rainy day below that applies to us as startups.

Here is what I am going to be doing.

So what are you going to do with your startup?

And just so that we are clear, do not ignore #Coronavirus - Make sure you wash your hands, exercise social distancing and be safe. This virus is deadly and we have to take all precautions.

Also, if you are emotionally overwhelmed, reach out to Crisis Text Line.
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