Last time, we talked about the fierce competitive landscape advisors face, especially as digital platforms exacerbate the downward pressure on fees. Differentiation is the only way forward, despite the fact that many advisors struggle to stand out from the pack. Even those that do tend to have a hard time communicating how they’re different — and how they add value for their clients — consistently and effectively.
The bad news is that it will be nearly impossible to compete without differentiation and a strategy that allows you to communicate your value. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be rocket science to accomplish those things. Frequent demonstrations of value for clients is an attainable goal for advisors and firms alike, especially with automation. We’ll walk through some strategies for ensuring your clients are clear on what they’re getting from you so that you can succeed and grow your practice.
Focus on Defining the Abstract
Your clients are looking for a demonstration of points of value, even when you don’t think they are. They’re looking to you to show them exactly what you’re doing, above and beyond sending a quarterly performance report or updated financial plan. They want to see the concrete ways you’re helping them meet their goals. Now, you might be thinking, “But the services I provide are abstract…” This is true, so we’re going to walk you through some ways you can turn abstract service into tangible value and communicate that clearly to your clients.
To start, think of all the various ways you add value that may seem like a “given.” For example:
Insights — You probably send your clients periodic performance reports, but providing key insights that go a step beyond a simple presentation of numbers can help you add value for your clients.
Presence & Availability — While you may have a few clients that take advantage of your availability, most clients are not thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about them. Frequent and regular emails can keep you top of mind and help to communicate that you’ve available for their questions and on top of their account.
Clarity — Many financial services providers overwhelm clients with pages upon pages of graphs and charts and jargon that may as well be written in hieroglyphics. If you offer clarity and easy-to-understand insights into how your clients’ money is performing, you are adding value.
Everyday Tasks — This is a big one. There are likely plenty of things you do each day that add value but that you may overlook simply because they’re so routine. For example:
- Rebalancing portfolios requires you to spend time actually reviewing your clients’ portfolios to evaluate performance. Clients are not aware of this unless you let them know. Consider adding a note to your CRM each time you do a performance review, followed by a note to your client along the lines of: “Here are a few things we did this month with respect to your account with us….”
- Keeping a finger on the pulse of client accounts and thresholds is an involved job. If you are able to pre-emptively reach out to address client concerns and questions, it merits communicating so to your clients so they can see that their money is safe in your hands. Maybe you have a routine of reaching out to clients when their account dips below a certain threshold. This builds trust while also communicating the value of having someone monitoring their accounts 24/7.
- You are a conduit for curated insights and information. Chances are, your client doesn’t see how the sausage is made (monitoring performance, rebalancing, consolidating assets and information). This is where you can communicate value by making it simple and easy for clients to get the critical information they want. It might be through a digital dashboard or online client portal or even via a mobile app. Remind people that they have access to these tools.
These are just a few of the myriad of ways that you add value in all of your day-to-day activities. Don’t assume that your clients are aware of all that you do for them — make it cut and dried for them. Finding clever and consistent ways to communicate that value is what we’ll cover next.
Be Clear About All Your Value Points, Early and Often
Once you’ve established and/or identified key differentiators, you need to communicate those value propositions to your clients — clearly and frequently. Even if you add value in all of the ways we described above, if you’re not communicating that, that value is lost on your clients.
Clarity in communicating how you’re unique means finding creative ways to ensure that each and every activity you do for clients is presented as a value point. Certain services you provide inherently communicate value to clients. When you distribute performance reports, for example, you’re “handing” the client something they can see with their own eyes — it’s tangible.
Communicating the intangibles, including the items we listed in the previous section, are essential to keeping clients happy and secure. Doing this well requires a little bit more of an effort on your part. To help you effectively communicate all the value you add for your clients, consider using tools like:
Automation – automating communication can streamline how you keep in touch with clients. Scheduled emails or texts show that you are thinking about your clients and require far less heavy lifting than manually sending communications. The benefit there is that you win back more of your time to dedicate to things that matter — like servicing clients and growing your business.
Mobile Apps – Mobile apps are all the rage, though not many in the wealth management space do it well. If you are one of those folks that do, use your app to help communicate how you deliver value to clients. If you’re using a third-party app that enables you to personalize communications and dashboards with your branding, it’s a great way to remind clients of all that you do and add a sophisticated, personalized touch to communications that your clients can trust.
Online Portals/Dashboards – These tools can be used to streamline information for your clients and answer their most pressing questions. Providing 24/7 access to account information and channels of communications builds trust and strengthens your relationship with clients.
Demonstrating and communicating value is not a set-it-and-forget it thing. You must evolve alongside your clients and the industry. The key is finding a streamlined way to do this that doesn’t take time away from actually advising. In our next piece, we’ll discuss some of the ways customers use Blueleaf to stand apart from the pack…efficiently.