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Industry Spotlight > RIAs

A Story About Differentiation

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I’d like to ask you a very important question. Here it is. What’s the difference between you and your competition? I know you’ve been asked this many times before, but think about it for a minute. Your answer is a significant factor in determining the perception you create in the mind of prospective clients. When I worked for a large brokerage firm, we were taught to craft an “elevator speech.” In other words, if you found yourself in an elevator with someone, and they asked about your vocation, you would have a brief moment to recite just the right words to make them want to hear more.

So how did you answer the question about your differentiator? Did you say something like, “I have superior investment acumen?” How about, “I do comprehensive financial planning.” A lot of advisors would answer this way. Differentiating yourself can be a very difficult task, especially if you work for a large brokerage firm with thousands of other advisors who talk alike, dress alike, and act very similar. If you are an independent advisor, you have a much greater opportunity to distinguish yourself. And distinguishing yourself from the rest of pack is so very important. I’d like to share a brief story and discuss something I am doing to accomplish this.

Very recently, I met with a client to review his portfolio. Somehow the subject came up as to how I compared to his four former advisors. His answer was very complimentary. He said that what I am doing for him is so far beyond what his other advisors did that there was no comparison. I was pleasantly stunned. Here’s some of the reasons for his statement.

Currently, I have a couple of initiatives on the plate. The first is eVault, where we securely store the client’s important documents, and the next is called a Master Inventory List. I have written about eVault before so I’ll spare you the details.

The Master Inventory List is a document which contains information on every asset and liability of a client. It also includes the institution, the contact person’s name, address, and phone. Think about it. The client will have, perhaps for the first time in his or her life, a detailed list of every asset and liability and who to contact. In the event of death, this will prove extremely helpful.

In short, these initiatives are helping me differentiate myself from the competition. What would my elevator speech sound like? Well, it would probably include language on how I help clients get organized and simplify their lives, something they are all too eager to do.


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