First impressions matter, whether on a blind date, a job interview, or choosing an investment advisor.

An advisor’s value proposition is often the first impression potential clients experience, and can be the catalyst for a future relationship. This statement answers the question “Why should I choose you?”

But according to a new study from Pershing, 60% of investors found it hard to distinguish among advisors because many made similar promises.

Pershing said the strongest value propositions incorporated four key elements: attributes of the advisor, benefits for the investor, a rational explanation of how the firm’s attributes benefit the client and language that evokes emotion.

“Developing an effective value proposition can have larger implications on an advisor’s overall business than they may realize,” Pershing managing director Kim Dellarocca said in a statement.

Dellarocca said the value proposition was an opportunity for advisors to promote business growth by using language that differentiated themselves and targeted their ideal client base by articulating attributes and features that appealed to specific demographics.

“Of course, the real test is delivering on what you promise.”

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Creating an Effective Statement

For its study, Pershing examined value propositions used by top advisors, and investor reactions to these and other value propositions. From these findings, it identified several factors for advisors to consider when creating a value proposition of their own. 

Here, then, are the four elements of a value proposition that will set you apart in the minds of potential clients:

The 3 promises clients demand most

1. Include These 3 Promises, or Risk Losing Prospects

According to Pershing, an advisor’s website and marketing materials should include these promises, which investors in the survey found most compelling:

  • Tailored solutions to meet their needs
  • Advisors working for the investors’ best interest
  • Experienced investment managers

Advisors who do not mention these themes in their value propositions risk being excluded from consideration by potential clients, Pershing said. What sets your firm apart?

2. What Sets Your Firm Apart?

Successful advisors should also include something extra to differentiate themselves from competitors, such as why investors should choose them over other advisors, or unusual client benefits, for instance, building a family legacy or understanding personal aspirations.

In addition, Pershing’s study found that most investors are prepared to take an active role in managing their own finances.

Therefore, advisors should be careful not to oversell simplicity on their websites, for example, by promising to simplify investing and relieve clients of the burden of managing wealth.

If advisors place special emphasis on capital preservation, they should make this conservative money management approach is a highly visible component of their value proposition, Pershing said.

Why should clients trust you?

3. Why Should Clients Trust You?

Trust is a hugely important concern for investors — more so than the financial industry seems to realize, according to Pershing.

Advisors must ensure that their value proposition explains why investors should trust them. It should include themes such as accountability, integrity and fiduciary responsibility.

Pershing said advisors should know who their ideal client base is and what is most important to them in an advisor, then make sure their value proposition emphasizes those points.

For instance, millennial investors place higher importance on advisors who will provide guidance through life’s major events and relieve the burden of managing finances.

Choose your words carefully

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

The Pershing study also found that investors dislike jargon and favor words with emotional connotations. This means that how the value proposition is formulated is as important as the message it is trying to portray.

For example, in judging adjectives that were near synonyms, investors preferred words with an emotional punch: “unwavering” and “passionate” rather than “committed” and “dedicated.”

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