What’s the secret to client retention and fostering a good relationship with a local center of influence? It’s probably not a secret, or a single issue. It actually involves multiple issues, which we’ll call, “the edge.” In this post, we’ll explore some of the obscurities that can help create a competitive divide or as most would say, the differentiation factor.

To begin, let’s consider Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) in the 1993 blockbuster film, “The Firm.” He graduated near the top of his law school class and went to work for a boutique law firm in Memphis. What he didn’t realize was that the FBI was investigating the firm. When agent Wayne Tarrance (Ed Harris) approached him, he realized he could either help the FBI or risk going to prison when the indictments started rolling in. He decided to help. However, it becomes more difficult when two hit men aimed their weapons at poor ol’ Mitch. What does this have to do with financial services? Plenty.

You see, Mitch had just passed the bar exam, and as a result, he had to learn the law, even the more obscure parts of it. In the end, Mitch provided the FBI with evidence that the firm was overcharging clients. Moreover, when the bills were mailed to the clients, it was considered mail fraud, which exposed the firm to RICO charges.

Several years ago, after going independent, I met with a local estate and tax attorney for lunch. We were discussing the facts surrounding a case where one spouse predeceases the other spouse within two years. I mentioned that the second spouse could take advantage of an estate tax credit, which applies when the surviving spouse dies within a certain number of years after the first spouse. Although, he wasn’t sure, it did ring a bell.

To be clear (and fair), this attorney is considered one of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the state (so say other attorneys). My knowledge of this obscure part of the estate tax law left a favorable impression. He continues to be a good referral source.

It’s good to know obscure parts of estate and tax law. You never know when it will come in handy and provide that edge you seek.