Yes, all advisors are special, but maybe you’re not as special as you think you are.
Pershing conducted an online poll earlier this year of high-net-worth investors — with a minimum of $1 million in investable assets — and found a sharp disconnect between what the investors deemed important and what even the most successful advisors told prospects they were offering.
Specifically, Pershing and Harris Poll tested 29 advisor value proposition statements, those vaunted unique value propositions (UVPs), collected from the websites of Barron’s Top 100 Advisors and Pershing’s own sources. They then presented those advisor UVP statements to those HNW investors to get their reaction. They asked those investors what was the most important thing they looked for when choosing an advisor; asked them to rate the 29 value prop statements, asked them to choose which statements resonated the most with them, and finally asked which specific words they liked to hear from advisors.
The headline response: 60% of investors found it hard to distinguish among those value proposition statements because they were too similar, often using the same words that were of little importance to them.
As we earlier reported in a ThinkAdvisor slideshow, 4 Secrets to a Value Proposition That Lands Clients, 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.
So why aren’t advisors using the right language to speak with clients? “Sometimes they speak in language that may be important to them,” said Kim Dellarocca, managing director for Pershing, in an interview on the study’s findings. “A good example would be ‘independence.’ But investors don’t know that’s important,” Dellarocca said. “We tend to see the world through our own filters; it takes discipline and extra effort to write [UVPs] from the perspective of the person who’s not there — the client.”
Furthermore, she says, “we tend to borrow phrases from firms or people that we admire. Even the best firms’ [UVPs] got filled with jargon like ‘holistic,’ ‘expansive,’ ‘committed,’ ‘dedicated.’
Advisors use a vocabulary that is meaningful to them, which they believe accurately describes the services they offer and what differentiates them from other advisors, but neglect to see if that vocabulary resonates with clients.