One of the most important issues among advisors today is the way in which we differentiate ourselves from the competition. In this post, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on the matter.
The first point is to remember that we need to approach this from the client’s point of view. If a prospective client were to ask what makes you different from the rest of the advisory community, what would you say? Moreover, how would you explain the way you fit into their financial life from the standpoint of the products and services you offer? These are two of the most important questions you’ll face. Even if a client doesn’t ask, they all want to know the answers.
Beginning with the second question, let’s start from the premise of what constitutes the optimal framework of advisors for a given client. For instance, any client that has a modest amount of wealth, or the potential to accumulate it, needs a good CPA and an estate attorney. Personally, I’ve earned a Certified Tax Specialist designation, but do not consider myself to be an “expert” on taxes. Although I may know more about it than 98% of clients, because I don’t spend all my time in this area, a full-time CPA should know more about the subject than me. Moreover, I am an Accredited Estate Planner and have a “Board Certified in Estate Planning” designation, but the same holds true on the estate planning front. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the clients “big” picture to see where you fit in, and communicate this to the client. The bottom line is this: the least amount of overlap the better and making sure all areas are covered is crucial.