A lot of advisors seem to confuse their value proposition--and it hurts them in the long run.
For example? Recently, I wrote about a panel discussion in my newsletter, where it came out that an advisor was meeting with every one of his clients every quarter, to go over the investment performance of their portfolios. To him, his face-time was equal to his value.
Meanwhile, another advisor was hardly meeting with clients at all. She told her clients to call her if and when they needed to talk, and to let her know of any changes in their circumstances. Of course, she had to be more flexible than advisors who regularly schedule meetings; when a client calls, she has to be willing to push aside her work and spend time with the caller. But she estimated that she met with each client less than once a year, and typically had one or two lengthy phone conversations a year.
Both of these advisors were providing essentially the same (financial planning and portfolio management) services. Both had happy clients. But one was constantly scrambling to make and keep appointments, while the other had a reasonably relaxed practice. Later, it came out that, at the suggestion of the second advisor, the first advisor had gradually cut back on the number of scheduled meetings--and, if you add in preparation hours, saved more than a quarter of a year of time, which could be diverted to working with additional clients. And none of the existing clients left!
There are, of course, other examples of this. It seems like just about all the brokers I've ever talked with over the years believe their hard work and service would have zero value apart from the firm they work with. They believe their clients work with them only because they represent a multinational financial services organization that everybody has heard of. They talk about the enormous support that is available to them. But when you probe a little deeper, you discover that they rarely rely on these support people, or that when they do, the help they get is no better than what independent advisors get from local attorneys, CPAs or the independent BD home office.
I call these "hidden assumptions" about your value--and usually these assumptions are hidden from us, ourselves. If you're lucky enough to discover one of your limiting assumptions, and question it, the experience can be powerfully liberating for both you and your practice.
I suspect that these unseen limitations may be our most important obstacle to achieving success in this business. If you're reading this, can you think of another assumption that too many advisors are making, about their service, and help us compile a list?
In fact, I'll go first. I'll nominate the first thing to put on that list, which you can agree or disagree with: performance statements. Do you really, truly, have to send them out at the end of every quarter? (I happen to believe you don't.)
To enter this discussion, and offer your views, click below. I hope at least some of you will think that I'm completely off-base and will be courageous enough to say so; those are the comments I tend to learn the most from.
If you have suggestions about other topics that the profession ought to be exploring, or great ideas for a group discussion, please send me a message at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a lot more information on practice marketing, practice management, client services, investment paradigms and other important issues for financial planners, go to: http://www.bobveres.com.