As innovation gives rise to new products and delivery platforms, advisors face competition from low-cost robo-advisors and automated turnkey solutions. Advisors also are confronting a generation shift as baby boomers enter the drawdown phase and advisors must reach out to a new generation of clients with different needs and preferences.
In this environment, advisors who aren’t taking active steps to grow their businesses, gain market share and strengthen client relationships risk slipping behind. For advisors to survive in this competitive environment, they need to look for innovative ways to build their brand and communicate their unique value. They need to take a strategic, flexible approach that capitalizes on new technology and outsourcing opportunities to provide enhanced value to clients.
To put your business on a growth footing for 2018 and beyond, consider these best practices of top-performing advisors who have been successful in today’s changing environment:
1. Focus on client needs. Top-performing advisors are client-focused. They understand and address individual client needs. These advisors look beyond generalizations such as age or income level to explore clients’ individual goals, concerns and values. They communicate frequently with clients to review changes in their situation and to anticipate potential family or professional situations that may affect their long-term financial needs. They then use their in-depth understanding to select the right tools and options to meet their clients’ needs.
Consider scheduling “client rediscovery meetings.” Sit down with existing clients and revisit their goals and concerns and explore any changes since your last conversation. The focus of these meetings should be on conveying how much you value your clients, and how concerned you are about their well-being and success.
2. Offer solutions, not products. By focusing on client needs, rather than a list of products you want to promote, you may open up new ways to add value to your client relationships. By reviewing the needs of top-tier clients, you may discover opportunities to expand the products and services you provide. While broadening your practice to provide new types of insurance or financial planning may require additional education or certifications, it’s a relatively low risk to diversify your revenues.
To meet client needs, you might also build a network of other professionals who offer expertise or products you don’t. CPAs, estate attorneys, and insurance providers are obvious examples, but many advisors have found success forming relationships with other professionals who interact with people at key transitions in their lives. These might include marriage planners, realtors, mortgage lenders, funeral directors or elder care specialists. These relationships might be as simple as sharing business cards, or involve greater collaboration such as hosting joint marketing events or collaborating on brochures and checklists. By vetting and recommending other professionals, you not only strengthen your value proposition to your clients, you also tap new prospecting opportunities.
3. Commit to winning new clients. Successful advisors look for strategies to differentiate themselves, communicate their brands and encourage referrals from their top clients. Many advisors have found success by focusing their marketing and client development efforts on a particular niche. Consider focusing on medical professionals, small-business owners, socially conscious investors or a specific large employer in your community. Once you’ve decided on a niche, you can focus your business development and networking on building solutions targeted to this niche. You can also work to establish personal connections with these investors, while communicating how you’ve helped people like them in the past. Hold client appreciation events targeted to your unique client niche, and ask your clients to bring two colleagues. Become involved in your community, especially on boards or organizations where you might network with your target audience. You might also volunteer to be a subject matter expert in the media or at community events, helping to demonstrate your expertise and your social commitment.