For years, consultants and many advisors have preached that every advisor must have a valid value proposition and convey it to clients. I agree. However, when you consider the sheer number of financial advisors, the number of firms and operating platforms, technologies, etc., it makes sense that differentiation has its limits. In short, there will be a great deal of overlap.
In this post, we will discuss this issue and consider why clients hire us in the first place.
Although I have no data to support it, I assume most advisors are honest, ethical, and try hard to do what is best for their clients. While it may be easy for one advisor to see if another is dishonest, with clients, this task can be quite difficult. After all, the descriptive “con man” is short for confidence man, which is someone who is persuasive and elicits confidence in those he defrauds. If it were easy for clients to spot such a person, then Bernie Madoff, Alan Stanford, Charles Ponzi and others would not have succeeded. But I digress.
Separating yourself from the competition is important, but it is far more important to engender trust in those around you. Last week, I received a phone call, which was a referral from an existing client. Why did this individual call? Beyond the fact that they need an advisor, they called because they have great trust in my client. Therefore, if you really want to differentiate yourself from the competition, do whatever you can to develop a good reputation. This can only be accomplished by doing what is best for the client, at all times.
Many times, we find ourselves talking to clients about the nuances of the markets, our unique approach to investin, and other technical issues. While these are important issues, often the client does not fully understand what we are saying or what the implications are of these issue. I know, because I have been there and done that, but what is most important to clients?
They want to know if they can trust us. They want to be able to rest comfortably at night, knowing their future is secure.
Given this fact, those with a fiduciary obligation have an advantage over those who do not. That does not mean all fiduciary advisors will be honest or ethical. Honest and ethical behavior comes from the heart. If you are an honest advisor, and clients realize it, you should do well. And that is the differentiator with the greatest value.
If you are less than ethical, may your stay be short and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great week! a