How to articulate the value your business delivers to clients

Date: 10 December 2018

When you, as a financial adviser, work on building your value proposition, three key steps in the process are to:

  1. Know your clients
  2. Know your business
  3. Articulate the value your business can deliver to your clients.

The better you are at understanding these three steps, the closer you will be to building a successful, fulfilling, profitable advice business.

Know your clients

Step 1 is to understand your target audience – the people you want to read and understand your value proposition.

Who are your existing clients? Who are your ideal (prospective) clients? What specific needs and problems do your clients and prospective clients have? What things do your clients value most highly?

If you don’t already have clear answers to these questions, you should begin asking.

Undertake market research, by asking your clients directly and individually, arranging a focus group, or conducting a survey. Don’t forget to ask other stakeholders – such as your employees, colleagues and other advisers – for their perspectives.

Once you have a clear perception of who your clients are, you then need to understand their core financial needs and problems.

You can do this by asking your existing clients questions such as:

  • What are your short-term and long-term financial goals?
  • Within what time-frame do you expect to achieve each of these goals?
  • Why did you decide to engage a financial adviser?
  • What factors did you consider in your selection of a financial adviser?
  • Why did you eventually choose me as your financial adviser?
  • What do you value most about our ongoing advisory relationship?
  • What do you value least?
  • Would you recommend me to someone else who was searching for a financial adviser? If so, why? If not, why not?

Your research into your existing and ideal clients may involve some depth, including factors such as age, gender, income, location, demographic profile, lifestyle preferences, relationship status and other family circumstances.

Sue Viskovic, founder and managing director of Elixir Consulting (a business coaching agency for financial advisers), suggests identifying your ideal clients in terms of personas or avatars.
“You need to bring the personas to life and understand the problems they want to solve,” Sue says.

For example:

Bob is a 45-year-old IT manager who earns $200,000. MaryJane is a 42-year-old who earns $80,000. They have 2 children and live in a house in Carnegie. The things that are important to them are family time, socialising with friends, gardening and the occasional holiday. Their challenges include finding enough time in their days, understanding concepts of investments and not being able to save.

“Then you ask: ‘If I was to talk with Bob and Mary-Jane, what would I want and expect to hear from them, if they were to articulate what I do for them that they value?’ Their answers might include tangible things like ‘Save money on tax’, but there are also likely to be intangible things like: ‘I know I can just send an email and my adviser will action it, without me having to go to their office.’”

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Know your business

Your business represents a unique combination of professional strengths, specialisations, areas of expertise, services and products that you offer and deliver to provide ultimate long-term value to clients.
Before you begin to write your value proposition statement, you need to understand these elements in detail.

For example, what areas of expertise do you currently specialise in? Specific investment strategies? Self-managed superannuation funds? Retirement strategies? Business succession planning? Or full-service financial advice?

In your long-term future, which areas do you wish to continue specialising in? Which areas do you enjoy most? Which are you best at? Which are the most profitable? Which give you the greatest satisfaction and fulfilment?

These are the areas you should focus on. In any profession, you are most likely to succeed in the specific types of work that you enjoy the most.

Sue Viskovic suggests a key step in building your value proposition is to identify all the things you currently deliver, or would like to deliver, to clients.

“This might include specialisations [that relate to the education and technical knowledge of your advisers],” Sue says. “It might be the ability to handle finance and debt management. It might be SMSFs. It might be your understanding of a range of estate planning laws that you can draw on to help clients with their succession planning.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘This is what I do, and this is why you should come to me’. You then have to make sure that you have an appropriate way of delivering your services to satisfy the promise you are making.”
Knowing your business also involves identifying your competitors and your points of competitive difference in the advice market.

To distinguish your business, you should know who your competitors are, what they promise, what they deliver, what they stand for, and the ways in which they are similar or different to you.

The intersection of clients and business

The value you deliver to clients lies in the place where your areas of expertise intersect with your clients’ needs and problems.

To appreciate and articulate this intersection, you might ask:

  • How closely do my areas of expertise align with the needs of my ideal clients?
  • How do my products, services and advice solve my clients’ specific problems or improve their situation?

It pays to make a list of the ways in which your business, your products and your services can help people, and the specific benefits they derive. Write down the ways in which your services and products solve real problems in ways that others don’t.

How will engaging with your business save your ideal clients money, time and effort? How will your business make money for your ideal clients? How can you ensure that your ideal clients consistently feel good about the experience of interacting with your business?

For each client need and problem that you have identified, can you identify a matching service or product that you already offer? For those problems that you cannot easily address, do you need to develop additional services or products? Or do you need to develop relationships with referral partners to address these specific client needs?

Once you can demonstrate that your business is directly relevant to your clients, you will be in a position to explain the value you offer and to create a compelling sales message that encourages clients to act.

More on value propositions

If you’d like to find out more about value propositions, Netwealth has developed a guide for financial advisers on ‘How to build your value proposition’.

This guide will show you to how to write your value proposition statement(s), based on your understanding of your target audience and how your business can address your clients’ specific needs and problems.