Most people selling securities call themselves financial advisors. How does your client perceive your role?

Read: 3 approaches to prospecting

A true advisor is the client’s go-to person when she has questions about finances; the client trusts him and follows his advice. She views their working relationship as long-term; a succession plan is in place for both and fees aren’t an issue.

The fiduciary

In a perfect world the advisor works solely for the client, often giving advice for an hourly fee, similar to lawyers. His recommendations are in the client’s best interest, which includes finding the best solution at the lowest cost. Such advisors are often independent.

Making your point: “I’m in this business to make money, but not to your detriment.”

Credentialed Advisor

You provide advice to clients and have specialized training. You might be an advisor working for a large firm or an independent. You’ve likely been chosen or referred because of experience in addressing specific types of problems. Continuing education requirements keep you current. You may be a CFP.

Making your point: “I’m a board-certified and licensed Certified Financial Planner. I am qualified to work in any part of the country.”

Advisor at Major Brokerage Firm

They’re usually well trained and have strict compliance requirements, and are held to the suitability standard. Their recommendations must align with the client’s objectives and risk tolerance, yet are often limited to investments available at the firm. Most advisors at large firms put client interests first and benefit from long-term relationships and loyalty. They’re paid by the firm.

Making your point: “I won’t buy or sell items in your account for personal gain unless it’s yours.”

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Wealth Manager

Some advisors have the additional training needed to address problems unique to high-net-worth investors. Senior executives, for instance, often own restricted stock or have complicated estate-planning needs.

Making your point: “Our firm works almost exclusively with C-Suite executives at Fortune 500 firms.”

Agent of the firm

Some advisors work at firms specializing in one product, such as insurance. To appeal to sophisticated investors, they’ve added broker-dealer and specialist capabilities, but their compensation structure favors the primary product.

Making your point: “My specialty is structured settlements.” Or, “I’m an estate-planning specialist.”


Some investors just want to trade stocks and prefer to work with an experienced advisor who’s good at it. This is the traditional broker stereotype. Often a relationship develops around one product (stocks, bonds, options, commodities) and stays in that niche.

Making your point: “I’m an advisor with (firm). We specialize in identifying undervalued stocks.”

Order taker

No one calls himself an order-taker, but some advisors primarily take instructions from clients and execute trades. Institutional investors usually know what they want and are seeking the best price. Some retail clients prefer this relationship.

Making your point: “I’m a broker on the institutional desk at (firm).”

Private bankers and family offices

Extremely wealthy investors often have advisory relationships with one established firm that does everything for them. Banking, brokerage, accounting and insurance—all under one roof. Need to lease a car? Or negotiate an executive compensation package? They do it all.

Making your point: “We have been handling money for old, established families for generations.”

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