How to differentiate yourself

By Bryce Sanders | June 10, 2014 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

One of your biggest challenges is differentiating yourself from the competition. Here’s how it’s done in four key areas that are top of mind with prospects.

#1. Relationship

Everyone wants to be an important client. Many advisors paint a rosy picture and promise to stand by each client forever.

What not to say: “I’ll invest your money until you’ve given us everything. After I’ve earned all the fees I will reassign your account to a customer service area and find another person to replace you.”

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Points to highlight: You work with a small group of clients. Highlight the longevity of those relationships. Discuss what you will and won’t do.

How to explain: “I work with a small group of clients—some have been with me twenty years. I will live up to your expectations to the best of my ability. Here’s an example of what you can expect. We will have a relationship. I will be keeping in close contact but I also want you to feel comfortable calling.”

Great advisor quote: “I won’t recommend buying or selling 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.”

#2. Integrity

Many advisors lean on the integrity of their firms. Often they make vague statements such as, “We’re very good. Everyone knows that.”

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What not to say: “We’re the biggest and best. No one does it like us.”

Points to highlight: Equate integrity to number of clients and AUM. The firm’s trustworthy because lots of people are comfortable keeping their money with it.

How to explain: “The firm has been in business for more than 80 years. I’ve been with the firm for 10 years. We have $500 billion in assets held on behalf of 10-million clients. I work with about 100 clients who have entrusted me with $90 million of their savings. I take this responsibility very seriously.”

Great advisor quote: “If principles and values aren’t important to you, then we shouldn’t do business.”

#3. Range of Products and Services

Almost everyone offers stocks and bonds. High-profile mutual funds are available from most firms. Even no-load funds are often available on wrap-fee platforms. Some firms still focus on proprietary products.

What not to say: “I only recommend in-house funds. They’re the best, so that’s all the choice you need.”

Points to highlight: Describe the capabilities of your mutual fund scanner in easy-to-understand terms.

How to explain: “Let’s consider mutual funds, for example. We start with a universe of 6,000+ and narrow it down to ones I feel are most appropriate for your situation.”

Great advisor quote: “We believe no one has the best of everything.”

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#4. Managed Money

Separately managed accounts have been around for about thirty years. The initial appeal was exclusivity. Professional management only available to institutions was now accessible to individual clients.

What you should never say: “These people are the best and they are only available through us.”

Points to highlight: Style drift is a serious issue along with management team continuity. A strict compliance review process keeps them in line.

How to explain: “We want to offer good managers, and use a strict selection process. A lot of effort goes into monitoring them on an ongoing basis. If the managers who made the team famous leave, or they suddenly move away from the investment style that built their reputation, we place them on review and consider dropping them from our program.”

Great advisor quote: “It’s hard for managers to get into our program, easy to be taken out.”

Read: 12 traits of a good advisor

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on