The ClientWise Blog

7 Vital Decisions for Forward-Looking Financial Advisors

Posted by Chris Holman on Sep 20, 2012, 9:44:00 AM


Dramatic change lies ahead for financial advisors. A possible inflection point in the industry? Only time will tell.

Here’s what we are seeing. Check this out. What do you think?

The U.S. population of financial advisors continues to shrink, and the median age of financial advisors continues to increase. Clients are leading much busier, more complicated financial lives and as a result, are placing even greater demands on their financial advisor(s).

In other words, the supply of professional advisors is shrinking and aging, even though demands for their services are increasing. Operating costs continue to rise, and the client fee discussion never seems to go away. The overall investment environment? Although the long-term forecast for U.S. financial assets appears positive these days, the world outlook seems precarious. Investors? Highly nervous and risk-adverse. Compliance and legal issues? Fuhgeddaboudit!

So, what’s the answer for top-performing financial advisors? There isn’t one answer, actually. However, there are a number of contributory answers that add up. We think of them as the seven decisions that top-performing financial advisors must tackle in order to assure their continued success in the industry.

These decisions are:

 

  • The Client
  • Your Business Vision
  • Delivery of Wealth Management Services
  • Your Growth Strategy
  • Measurement & Execution
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Key Roles

 

One by one, over the next few weeks, we plan to touch upon each of these decisions. For today, let’s discuss The Client.

Wikipedia defines a client as: is the recipient of a good, service, product, or idea, obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier for a monetary or other valuable consideration. A client is also known as a customer, buyer, or purchaser.

Some questions. How many of you, i.e. financial advisors, think of yourselves as a seller or vendor? How many of you think of your clients as recipients of goods? How many of you think of your entire assemblage of clients as a collection of buyers or purchasers?

Here’s the point. For financial advisors, the standard definition of client doesn’t seem to apply. It just doesn’t seem sufficient, especially when you consider the lifetime influence and impact that a financial advisor can have on all of their clients, their family members and subsequent generations.

So, given the absolute importance and primacy of the client relationship for financial advisors, you’d think that virtually every advisor out there would have the “client issue” locked down and put to bed. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors.)

Strangely, this doesn’t seem to be true. Our ClientWise research reveals a number of surprising disconnects between advisors and the “client issue.

For example:

 

  • Many financial advisors define their ideal client and/or target market much too broadly. “Rich people” is not sufficient. Nor is “retirees”. In other words, many financial advisors have not defined, and chosen, a sufficiently narrow ideal client profile.
  • In fact, a surprising number of financial advisors have obtained many of their clients by simple happenstance, without conscious, deliberate thinking or effort.
  • The majority of financial advisors do not have an effective Value Proposition, if you define a value proposition as: the articulation of the measureable value of the experience that the client will receive from your offering (Offering = Benefit minus Cost).
  • Many financial advisors have not arrived at a repeatable Client Acquisition strategy.
  • Most financial advisors do not have a written marketing plan that provides an overall marketing strategy, as well as specified, detailed tactics that accomplish a desired outcome.
  • Many financial advisors have not assembled a network of other professionals (e.g. attorneys, CPA’s, business appraisers, etc.) that collaborate to serve the ideal client profile that they have specifically chosen, as well as complementing the wealth management approach that serves this particular ideal client profile in a comprehensive sophisticated manner.

 

Here’s the summary:

Confronting a time of seismic change, the elite financial advisors will have made seven important decisions that will assure their sustainability and survival. The first of which is The Client that they want to serve, and making a series of conscious, intentional decisions regarding how they serve this client best.

 

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Topics: Business and Operations Management, Leadership, Change