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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Answering 'What do you do?' better

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For many financial advisors, the most difficult question for them to answer is, “What do you do?” Yet that question is so fundamental to success in their business. It provides you, as a financial advisor, with the opportunity to describe the essence of your “value proposition.”

We know great businesses have a simple and compelling way in which they describe their value proposition. So how do top advisors turn that question into a business opportunity?

For John Nicola, it is quite simple. Nicola Wealth Management’s ideal client is a high-net-worth business owner, professional or retiree. Nicola knows these people are concerned about creating and distributing wealth. When Nicola interacts with someone who fits his ideal client profile, his response to the question is, “We help our clients create and distribute wealth.”

Typically, the response he gets is, “What do you mean?” This is the perfect opening for Nicola to share a story of how Nicola Wealth Management helps clients create and distribute wealth. When the listener puts himself or herself into the story, an emotional connection has been made. Nicola then builds on that emotional connection to engage in a client attraction conversation.

When someone asks you, “What do you do?” the real purpose of the question is to determine if you do something that has meaning for him or her. If you answer, “I am a financial advisor,” it is likely they already have one of those. However, if your response touches on what is really important to the listener, he or she wants to hear more. The conversation takes on a different meaning. You have the opportunity to describe what gives you meaning in your work and how you can make a difference in the listener’s life.

Norm Trainor is the president and CEO of The Covenant Group, a company specializing in practice development for advisors. For further information, visit the website at