By TONY VIDLER
Advisers have a few problems these days. The biggest financial adviser problem though is getting prospects to engage with us to begin with. Despite a couple of decades of positioning, developing and improving technical knowledge and qualifications, many financial professionals are struggling to get enough clients to engage in holistic planning.
We need to take a leaf out of the accountant and lawyer's playbook: Don’t try to deal with everything now; just deal with the burning issue of the moment.
If you think about it, most clients getting advice from their other professionals are seeking them out to have perhaps just one thing dealt with. They need conveyancing done – now. They need a will – now. They need a tax return done – now. They need an audit – now.
Many clients are interested only in what needs to be done now.
That doesn’t make them ignorant or uncaring necessarily, they are just trying to manage busy lives and the competing demands for time, attention and money, so they focus on dealing with the urgent. When they need advice, they often need advice on “just this one thing…”
Therein lies the financial adviser's greatest marketing problem: We offer too much. We make it too complex. By wanting to talk about this comprehensive advice and planning process we do not appear to meet the immediate need… WE introduce complexity.
The financial services industry globally is increasingly moving down the path of mandating that advisers must make clients think about everything. That is a barrier to engagement for many clients, simply because it is too hard, and it takes too much time, and frankly it isn’t what they wanted.
The number one challenge for financial advisers is getting enough clients to fully engage with the planning process, and yet it is the enormity of the process which I suspect is the primary barrier to initial engagement. Certainly we need to educate clients on the benefit of the strategic planning with a long term view, and certainly we need to try and employ the holistic advice process to help the clients achieve their life goals.
But it all begins with a transaction. The planning process begins by just doing one thing.
The point in highlighting this if we know that most great prospects out there in the world who are not yet clients want one thing sorted before they are interested in everything else, then the most effective marketing will be that which highlights the “one thing(s)” we can fix for them in the short term.
When prospects engage to have that one thing dealt with, deal with it. Then let them move on for the moment. But educate them on the entire range of problem resolution and planning processes you will be able to provide to them. Maintain high levels of contact and continue to remind them of the other things that can be resolved and create value, and gradually engage them in the holistic planning process.
That may not be the process as “best practice” sees it, however it is the reality of meeting the market's needs and demands. Beginning with a holistic and comprehensive process will prevent many prospects from participating at all in using professional advice. However, professionally resolving burning issues will encourage prospects to get professional advice. Then we have a chance of increasing the number of consumers who will participate in the holistic and comprehensive planning process.
To be effective as financial advisers we need to stop insisting on offering so much to so many at the beginning of the engagement, and begin be focussing on the burning needs that trigger the desire for advice.
TONY VIDLER is a conference speaker, personal mentor, and coach who works with professional, helping them to define and articulate what they can offer.