Sometimes advisors care about the wrong things. We get so wrapped up in what we think is important that we tend to forget about what our clients actually want from us.
Have you seen the Bud Light commercial with the king and the beer snobs? If you haven’t, here’s the setup (or to see for yourself, simply Google “Bud Light - One Sip”):
While hosting distinguished guests from another kingdom, the Bud Light king is essentially forced to try the visiting royalty's “mead.” He really just wants to take a quick taste to be kind and be done with it. But before he can take a sip, the king's guests stop him. They pretentiously encourage him to experience the drink and notice the color and aroma and layers. Eventually, the king gets fed up and asks for a Bud Light.
So, how does any of that relate to advisors and their clients? It’s a stellar reminder of how we so desperately want to tell our clients how great and different and transparent we are, all the while forgetting why they came to us in the first place. They came to us to solve their problems.
The king just wants a drink. But the duke denies the king of this simple want and instead focuses on what he thinks is important—in this case, explaining the intricacies of his mead.
Just imagine your clients as the Bud Light king, and you—the advisor—as the duke or visiting royalty. Here’s how it plays out:
A young couple comes to an advisor to get help balancing a decision around a job change, potential move, their 401(k), and to hopefully resolve a debate about how much to save for their two young kids college. They’ve come to the advisor in search of answers. Instead, they get a long list of explanations.
“I’m a fiduciary and that means....but did you also know we are fee-only and here are the 74 reasons why that is superior. Those other firms are not as 'transparent' as we are...just look at ALL THIS TRANSPARENCY. We customize and only utilize...”
Cue the Charlie Brown “wah wah wah wah wah…”
That’s all a client hears. And just like the king just wants a drink, your prospects and clients just want you to help them solve their problems and achieve their goals. They want you to help with the move, the 401(k), the job change, and the college funding debate.
I am absolutely not saying that fee-only and fiduciary and some of this other stuff isn’t important. Rather I’m encouraging you to consider how people consume information.
If all that “stuff” is on your website or part of your content (if it isn’t, it definitely should be), chances are they already know. The attention of your clients and prospects is precious. When you have earned it, make sure the interaction is impactful, and that you leave them with something they didn’t have before they came to you. Do not just regurgitate information they likely already know.
Your Biggest Impact to Your Clients
You should always strive to spend your time where you will have the biggest impact. I personally am a huge fan of delegating or outsourcing where the impact is small.
Clients want you to solve their problems. They came to you for a reason. Something prompted them to seek you out.
So solve that problem.
Of course, as planners we diagnose and look at the entire situation in a holistic manner. But if a client asks what time it is, don’t tell them how you make the watch. Tell them the time! Remember, the king just wants a drink!
You can have the highest impact on your clients in those areas where there is control. For the most part, these areas live on the financial planning side of the equation, not the investment side.
I’m talking about things like how much your clients spend, how much they save, conversations around debt, timing of when they want things to happen, and discussions of risks. These all have a massive impact on the success (or failure) of your clients financial lives. Spend your time with your clients discussing these high impact areas. Be sure to have the right conversations.
Your Biggest Impact to Your Firm
If you are starting a firm, what are the things you should actually be worrying about? Here at XYPN, we help firms focus on the right things as they launch: registration, compliance, the client experience, getting dialed in on your niche and target market, actually getting your first clients, etc... For new firm owners, these things should definitely be top of mind.
If you are in your second and third year of firm ownership, you’re probably starting to recognize some areas where you should reassess the amount of time and effort you are spending.
Perhaps you are finding that your goals for your firm have changed. This is when the conversation of delegation comes into play. You really need to think about what type of firm you’re trying to build to decide whether or not delegation is right for you. Be sure that your efforts and impact are designed for the specific goal of your firm.
Outcomes: What's In It for Me?
"What's in it for me?" That is THE question. Whether with your firm or with your clients, we all want outcomes, results, and want “it” DONE. Most importantly, we want to know “What’s in it for me?” ( WIIFM).
This is where it can get tricky. With WIIFM, there are features and then there are benefits. Features are things like a client portal that gives you up-to-date information on your financial situation at any time of day or night. The benefit for this feature is that your finances will be organized and you will always feel like you are in total control over your financial life.
These are totally different things.
Which is more impactful, the feature or the benefit? Hopefully this is a no-brainer—the answer is the benefit. Remember, the king just wants a drink!
A Word on Fiduciary & Fee-only
We have no shortage of great features as fiduciary, fee-only advisors. Look, these are truly great things. So great, in fact, that they should be integrated into the DNA of your firm.
But as great as they are, they are not the defining measures of your firm.
A prospective client needs to “touch” your firm 12-20 times, on average, before reaching out to you directly. Assuming you have these traits (fiduciary, fee-only) woven into the DNA of your firm, there should never be a reason to “sell” your fiduciary, fee-only status to your prospects and clients.
Instead, focus on selling the benefits—the ways in which you will positively impact your clients' lives. And remember, the biggest way you'll impact their lives is by solving their problems.
So when it comes time to have a conversation with a prospective client, cut to the chase. Remember, the king just wants a drink. And so do your clients!
About the Author
A creative innovator and collaborator, Brandon Moss has had a front-row seat to the digital advice revolution, helping build one of the most innovative national RIAs on the planet. He’s acquired a 360* view of the RIA landscape, from being an advisor and running his own firm to designing and integrating some of the most innovative tools in the industry. He has lead, trained, coached, onboarded, integrated, transitioned, (you name it) over 100 RIA firms/wealth management teams. Additionally, he's evaluated, prospected, pitched (again...you name it) countless other firms. Consequently, he's an exceptional listener and comfortable in many different conversations! Occasionally, he's asked to opine on varying topics, typically Gen X+Y, innovation, client experience and technology. Beyond those topics, he's typically “winging it”. Brandon graduated from Texas Tech University's globally recognized personal financial planning program, then made it through some Executive Education at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. He’s also perpetually in online classes trying to figure out something new. Brandon resides in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with his wife, Shelby, and his identical, mirror-image twin boys, Will and Reese. When he's not with them, he's probably in his garage tinkering, building, or buying way too much golf equipment.
Brandon is the Director of XY Investment Solutions (XYIS), XY Planning Network’s digital hybrid investment platform. It’s a turnkey asset management platform (TAMP) designed and curated to the specific needs of XYPN members.
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