by George Ray
I was recently stung by a bee in my backyard (one of the most painful places on the body to be stung). I’ve been taking some pain relievers to lessen the discomfort, and it got me thinking about how financial advisers can provide pain relief to their clients. In fact, I believe that there are two primary ways that we provide value to our clients — by creating gains and relieving pains.
In my last post, we briefly looked at the need for financial advisers to continue to innovate and adapt their business models in order to avoid being disrupted — or wind up like Blockbuster, Kodak, or Blackberry (maybe soon). I’m a big advocate of completing an annual SWOT analysis (and have lead adviser workshops on the subject) so that advisers can examine their current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOTs). This can be one of the most effective ways to build (and update) your business plan for the coming year (if done correctly). And although the SWOT analysis can be effective, I believe that we now have a need (because changes are occurring so rapidly) to actually take a step back even further by re-examining our business models much more frequently.
One of the key business model building blocks is your value proposition. It must describe how your firm’s products and services create value for your clients. If you can’t clearly show a potential or existing client how you can create value for him, you really have no business talking to the client. Most advisers think about creating value by creating gains for the client (and I’m not just talking about investment gains). We often suggest that we provide better service (although we have difficulty defining what that means exactly). We might focus on the array of solutions that we have available. Or how long we’ve been in business. Or how many credentials we have after our names.
But your value proposition isn’t about you. It should be focused on your clients. And your clients often have pains — financial pains. You can differentiate your business from other advisers by letting clients know that you can be a pain reliever. In fact, here are some questions to ask yourself about the pain relief ability of your value proposition:
- Can you make your customers feel better by killing frustrations or annoyances that give them a headache?
- Can you fix an underperforming solution from a competitor by offering better performance, higher quality, or new features?
- Can you relieve the pain of difficulties and challenges that your customers encounter by making things easier or helping them get things done?
- Can you help your clients sleep better by diminishing their concerns or eliminating worries about their finances?
- Can you limit or eliminate the conditions that develop from common mistakes that clients often make?
- Can you break down barriers that are keeping your client from adopting better solutions?
Take some time to think about your ability to be a pain reliever for your clients. Consider all of the things that you do to help them to improve their financial wellness, and help them avoid getting stung in the backyard. It really hurts.