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12 Steps to Stand Out
by Eric Sheikowitz

One of the most challenging questions I get from individuals and teams I coach is: How do I differentiate myself? I’ve discussed this with hundreds of financial advisors and considered many elements of potential differentiation.

However, after speaking to one nationally recognized advisor, it appears it is in part even more basic than one might imagine. She said:
•tYou don’t come in the office from 8:15AM and leave at 4:15PM every day except Friday, when you take off.
•tYou don’t send out portfolio management reports by email with a note saying if you have any questions, call me.
•tYou care about your client’s wealth more than your own and you care about who they and their family really are.

This certainly speaks to part of the differentiation question. Regardless of what you offer as solutions that are different than your competitors, you must work hard and execute well.

Pure and simple, the purpose of differentiation is to gain a sustainable edge over your competition. Differentiation does not have to be in absolute terms, but performance relative to competitors.

Most financial advisors will state they are focused on the client and have the expertise, experience, education, integrity, and performance standards to help their clients succeed. These characteristics however are barely the entry price for a quality financial advisor or wealth manager. Products, pricing, investment strategy and planning including asset allocation, risk assessment, performance monitoring and reporting, are for the most part, commodities and one can rarely gain more than a short lived competitive advantage from a solution or process in these areas.

So, back to the key question, How do you differentiate yourself? Here are a eleven concepts, that if delivered holistically and consistently, can help you stand out.

Read the single-page version of this story here.

Images: Thinkstock