Most advisors offer the same core services. How do you make what you do stand out?
If you're a sole practitioner
Many advisors form teams. Clients often think if more people are involved, the service they get will be better. What's a lone advisor to do?
Approach: An agent in the commercial insurance business in Pennsylvania tells people, "If you become my client, I will handle your account personally. I won't hand it off to another advisor or send it to a customer service area elsewhere."
Rationale: The drawback to teams is the top person soliciting your business isn't always a client's contact for day-to-day questions afterwards. By saying, "I will handle it personally," you are communicating, "You will be an important client to me."
If you've decided to work with fewer clients
When firms went up market, they told advisors to be all things to some people. Today, many advisors have embraced the idea of working with a smaller clientele so they can provide a higher level of service and attract additional assets in the process. (Rob Knapp, president of the Supernova Consulting Group, is credited with pioneering this idea.)
Approach: A San Francisco advisor explains: "I don't work with everybody. I work with about 100 folks who have higher-than-average assets. (Review process). I also provide a written list of service expectations. Service is the one thing I can control. Things get done quickly and correctly because I work with a small number of clients."
Rationale: The advisor is selling exclusivity. Everyone wants to be an important client.
If you promise good service and a good relationship
Doesn't everyone? How can you make it special?
Approach: An advisor in Texas says, "I won't buy or sell items in your account for personal gain unless it's your personal gain. I'm in this business to make money but not to your detriment. If principles and values aren't important to you, then we shouldn't do business."
Rationale: He has packaged integrity as a product. He has aligned the client's high level of integrity with his own.
If you do a good job
The world is full of advisors who do a good job without recognition or fanfare. Often it's the bad ones that make headlines.
Approach: A Northern California advisor tells prospects: "There are good, conscientious people with integrity at many firms. I'm conscientious, knowledgeable and have your interests at heart. And I'm here."
Rationale: We've heard the expression "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush." He's explaining he has the skills needed. So why look further?
If you're connected to the community
Often advisors compete with online firms, new firms or independent advisors. Your firm probably has a name on the door with plenty of history. Start by learning when your firm (or its predecessor) opened for business in your city.
Approach: "We look to form and honour long-term relationships. We've been here for (#) years. Other firms may be testing a market or decide to leave a market. We are here for the long term."
Rationale: The use of "we" has you speaking on behalf of the firm, not just yourself. You are turning longevity into a benefit for clients. They worry a small operation might close up and disappear.