With all the different firms that are out there, it is probably a good guess that there are hundreds of thousands of financial advisors practicing in our country at any given time.  That is a lot of competition.  We have to compete for business with people who are sitting next to us, on another floor or another firm.

As if the competition was not enough, we also have another hurdle.  Commoditization.  We, in our opinion, are in a commoditized business.  If you ask “Joe Investor”, they will probably tell you that all advisors are the same.  After all, we all sell mutual funds, insurance, and other products, right?

Put both of these issues together, and you have a challenge.  How do you stand out and make yourself different in a world where you have so much competition and you are viewed as a commodity.

It all comes down to your value proposition.

So what is the value proposition?  This is what makes you…YOU.  It is your story to the world, telling people why they should do business with you, over someone across the hall, down the street, in another building or another firm.  Your value proposition is all about: 

  • What sets YOU apart?
  • What makes YOU unique?
  • What do YOU have to offer?
  • Why are YOU the right choice?
  • How do YOU add value?

When you start to think about your value proposition, think about a great recipe.  Great recipes are made up of key ingredients that if they were missing, the recipe just wouldn’t be the same.  Your value proposition is the same thing.  If you have the right ingredients, clients, prospects, and centers of influence will know everything there is to know about you and your practice.  There are three ingredients required for a top rated value proposition. 

  • Describe what you focus on doing
  • Describe your typical client/demographic
  • Describe how your clients will benefit from the services you provide

What do you focus on doing?

What do you really do for a living?  You might have “Wealth Manager” on your business card, but that is not what you really do.  Think about it terms of what situations you can help people in.  And when you help people, what are you really trying to accomplish for clients and prospects?  Living the life they want to live on their terms?  Productive retirement?  What about your process?  How do you do what you do?  Do you really get to know your clients first, then make a proposal based on their risk tolerances?  Is ongoing communication a part of your service model? 

Who is your typical client/demographic?

Who are you really marketing yourself to?  What is your target audience/niche?  If you’re not sure, take a look at your existing client base.  Chances are, you might have a natural niche there already!  What are you known for within the niche?  Now if you don’t have a niche, that is ok.  Find one!  Think about your community and geographic proximity.  What companies are around you?  (Remember that niches can be geographic!)  What you do you enjoy doing?  What is your passion outside of work?  (Some of the best niches can come from things you are truly passionate about!)  And you can have more than one niche!  Just remember that a niche must pass a two pronged test.  For a niche to be viable, it must be big enough to support another financial advisor, or it must be under the radar (one that has not be developed yet in your area).

How do the clients benefit from the services that you provide?

We are client centric, so how will people really benefit from working with you?  Peace of mind?  Security?  Maybe they will become better golfers since your clients are able to play more golf knowing that they don’t have to worry about their investments!  How about your service model?  How often to clients get contacted?  How many reviews?  What about client appreciation?  How do YOU deliver that WOW experience?

Remember that the only way a prospect will become a client is if they KNOW what it is like to be a client.  Your value proposition is your face to the world, and the first impression that prospects will have of you and your practice.  Since perception is reality, make sure that your value proposition gives the perception (and impression) that you really want!

Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver are senior managing partners at Focus Partners, LLC.

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