Must Try Harder?

I was speaking with a Chartered Accountant who does a lot of networking at various business clubs and conferences.

There are many financial advisers that attend these same events.

The CA has been disappointed in these advisers approaches (lots of them) as they  all seem to be saying, as their ‘unique’ pitch – “we should speak as I am/ we are Chartered Financial Planners”. Yawn!

This begs the question ‘so what?’ – surely being qualified to a decent level is an expectation – not a benefit? Could you imagine your dentist of 15 years dropping you a line to say he/she is now a qualified dentist?

Does the ability to pass prescriptive CII exams – often more about exam technique and a memory rather than a real life skills test – prove a financial adviser can add any value (other than a product or fund) to a prospective client’s life? I doubt it very much.

By all means have your Chartered and Certified Financial Planner professional qualifications on your business card. I do. The reality is nearly everyone has these now – so why are you any better or different to the financial advice firm next door? Where’s the value add? What’s the differentiator?

Seems everyone now is a ‘life planner’ too. Many trees are being hugged and candles lit. Ohmmmmm! That approach isn’t for everyone though.

Cash flow modelling too – who wants one or has ever requested one? There is a growing tendency to over-egg Truth, Voyant et al. It’s still just a tool in the box – albeit an important one. We make it part of the normal way of the normal business practice. It isn’t unique though.

For what it is worth, we find that most clients we deal with want to know what they need to save, earn and/or sell their business for to become financially independent (so work becomes a choice).

They need to know that they won’t run out of money in their lifetimes. They don’t want to outlive their capital and income. They need to know they (and their family) will not run out of money no matter what happens. They seek peace of mind.

So, can I suggest enough already of the “I’m qualified look at me” – it’s no longer enough nor relevant. It certainly isn’t interesting. In fact, the  CA told me its a turn off. She should know – she’s my wife.

A different approach is required. Over to you as to what that should be.

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18 thoughts on “Must Try Harder?

  • Whilst I agree with much of this article, I must take issue with your description of life planning.

    Questioning techniques, helping clients understand themselves better in order to obtain clear objectives for financial planning, are, I believe, essential techniques for the modern adviser.

    Aligning such skills with tree hugging and lighting candles is cheap, inaccurate, and not helpful.

    Reply
  • Nice one Iain! It’s kind of sad. So many Advisers have been so busy getting qualified (and in the process become ever more technical) and of course busy switching to ‘fees’ (ahem) they’ve forgotten one thing: what they actually deliver to clients. They can’t answer the question: “How are you going to make my life BETTER????” When clients start to realise just how much they are paying in fees they’ll be in trouble if they haven’t got an empowering story and can deliver a consistent client focused value proposition.

    Reply
  • I’m off to see a surgeon tomorrow. I had a look at his profile. Barely mentions his qualifications (how would I know what they meant anyway). It does mentioned where he’s lived and worked (locations, for interest purposes, not specific roles or departments) and it mentions a few serious clients he has which builds some credibility – Permiership football teams don’t mess around with ankle injuries. Best thing is he isn’t afraid to talk about how specific his knowledge and skills are – he ONLY deals with ankle injuries. I’m not dealing with a generalist. That’s the big differentiator for me.

    Reply
  • Good article. However, whilst it is never the first thing I say to a connection or client, I have had a lot more new business clients and prospective connections since becoming Chartered and Certified.

    There are many more facets to becoming a good adviser than merely qualifications, however none can be demonstrated as quickly as your qualifications for first impressions.

    Also, as I am sure you are aware, only around 5/600 advisers have both chartered and certified titles out of around 20,000 advisers so there is clearly differentiation there.

    I do agree though that we seem to be one of the the only industry’s where we are so concerned about exams. Doctors, lawyers, etc.. rarely state them

    Reply
  • An observations from recent networking event:

    A gathering of largely fellow professionals, some I knew, many I did not. A family lawyer I knew introduced me to her colleague ( who worked in same area of law ) saying, you must meet Paul “He’s The Pensions Man”

    Have to say my initial reaction was to correct the statement, but I didn’t.

    In the mind of the lawyer I was a specialist in pensions, someone to turn to when her clients need help and advice in this area ( which tends to happen a lot in divorce ).

    For sure, I remember informing her I’m Chartered and Certified and Resolution Accredited. This she filtered to “The Pensions Man”

    The fact that we know get the majority, if not all of the work she has in this area is a testament to the label.

    Moreover, it has allowed us to demonstrate the value we can bring and extend the firms understanding of more areas in which we can help.

    Reply
  • I think there is a fundamental difference between over egging the importance of qualifications to a client than there is trying to build credibility quickly with a fellow professional who has been used to a Chartered industry for many years.

    While I agree with much of your article, I certainly don’t think being either Chartered or Certified is the norm within the profession as you allude to. However we should all have a 30 second elevator pitch about why we do what we do and the benefits of our service.

    Many moons ago in my first real job flogging photocopiers, Features-Advantages-Benefits were drilled into us. I believe they remain just as important today as they did then, but this time it’s not a 50 sheet feeder that’s the feature, it’s us!

    Reply
  • Every time I read this kind of comment on getting closer to Lawyers and Accountants I feel a little sad.
    Most of us have an accountant because the Law dictates that we produce financial information in a certain way to satisfy the requirements of others such as bankers or regulators.
    Most of us only use a lawyer when required to do so by Law.
    Both of these professions have used their legal status to inflate their positions in society and to confound the public with jargon.
    I have rarely found anyone with an emotional attachment to either their lawyer or their accountant although there is often an undertone implying dissatisfaction with the charges they have been levied.
    People use us by choice and generally stay with us because we have met a need within their financial arrangements.
    Until recently we did not presume to forecast the future using spreadsheets and yet even using commission for remuneration still found our services valued by many.
    Yes we need to learn how to express our work better so that people will be willing to pay us directly but we should not ever forget that we are where we are because the public choose to use us and not because they are forced to by statute.
    Learn to be proud of your work and of your position within your client’s lives and become less willing to ingratiate yourselves with others who almost certainly will not be your equal.

    Reply
  • It is hard to understand that some 684 people looked at this topic and had nothing to add by way of comment !

    I n days of old when selling was a recognised skill it was the norm for ideas to be shared and many of the really successful advisers were happy to share their experiences to help others overcome the issues of the day..

    Our industry is going through unprecedented change and the more we can help each other the better our futures will be !

    So come on people and join in with your own thoughts.

    Reply
  • “We put you in control of your money”

    Reply
  • Nice one Iain! It’s kind of sad. So many Advisers have been so busy getting qualified (and in the process become ever more technical) and of course busy switching to ‘fees’ (ahem) they’ve forgotten one thing: what they actually deliver to clients. They can’t answer the question: “How are you going to make my life BETTER????” When clients start to realise just how much they are paying in fees they’ll be in trouble if they haven’t got an empowering story and can deliver a consistent client focused value proposition.

    Reply
  • I’m off to see a surgeon tomorrow. I had a look at his profile. Barely mentions his qualifications (how would I know what they meant anyway). It does mentioned where he’s lived and worked (locations, for interest purposes, not specific roles or departments) and it mentions a few serious clients he has which builds some credibility – Permiership football teams don’t mess around with ankle injuries. Best thing is he isn’t afraid to talk about how specific his knowledge and skills are – he ONLY deals with ankle injuries. I’m not dealing with a generalist. That’s the big differentiator for me.

    Reply
  • I think there is a fundamental difference between over egging the importance of qualifications to a client than there is trying to build credibility quickly with a fellow professional who has been used to a Chartered industry for many years.

    While I agree with much of your article, I certainly don’t think being either Chartered or Certified is the norm within the profession as you allude to. However we should all have a 30 second elevator pitch about why we do what we do and the benefits of our service.

    Many moons ago in my first real job flogging photocopiers, Features-Advantages-Benefits were drilled into us. I believe they remain just as important today as they did then, but this time it’s not a 50 sheet feeder that’s the feature, it’s us!

    Reply
  • Every time I read this kind of comment on getting closer to Lawyers and Accountants I feel a little sad.
    Most of us have an accountant because the Law dictates that we produce financial information in a certain way to satisfy the requirements of others such as bankers or regulators.
    Most of us only use a lawyer when required to do so by Law.
    Both of these professions have used their legal status to inflate their positions in society and to confound the public with jargon.
    I have rarely found anyone with an emotional attachment to either their lawyer or their accountant although there is often an undertone implying dissatisfaction with the charges they have been levied.
    People use us by choice and generally stay with us because we have met a need within their financial arrangements.
    Until recently we did not presume to forecast the future using spreadsheets and yet even using commission for remuneration still found our services valued by many.
    Yes we need to learn how to express our work better so that people will be willing to pay us directly but we should not ever forget that we are where we are because the public choose to use us and not because they are forced to by statute.
    Learn to be proud of your work and of your position within your client’s lives and become less willing to ingratiate yourselves with others who almost certainly will not be your equal.

    Reply
  • An observations from recent networking event:

    A gathering of largely fellow professionals, some I knew, many I did not. A family lawyer I knew introduced me to her colleague ( who worked in same area of law ) saying, you must meet Paul “He’s The Pensions Man”

    Have to say my initial reaction was to correct the statement, but I didn’t.

    In the mind of the lawyer I was a specialist in pensions, someone to turn to when her clients need help and advice in this area ( which tends to happen a lot in divorce ).

    For sure, I remember informing her I’m Chartered and Certified and Resolution Accredited. This she filtered to “The Pensions Man”

    The fact that we know get the majority, if not all of the work she has in this area is a testament to the label.

    Moreover, it has allowed us to demonstrate the value we can bring and extend the firms understanding of more areas in which we can help.

    Reply
  • “We put you in control of your money”

    Reply
  • Whilst I agree with much of this article, I must take issue with your description of life planning.

    Questioning techniques, helping clients understand themselves better in order to obtain clear objectives for financial planning, are, I believe, essential techniques for the modern adviser.

    Aligning such skills with tree hugging and lighting candles is cheap, inaccurate, and not helpful.

    Reply
  • It is hard to understand that some 684 people looked at this topic and had nothing to add by way of comment !

    I n days of old when selling was a recognised skill it was the norm for ideas to be shared and many of the really successful advisers were happy to share their experiences to help others overcome the issues of the day..

    Our industry is going through unprecedented change and the more we can help each other the better our futures will be !

    So come on people and join in with your own thoughts.

    Reply
  • Good article. However, whilst it is never the first thing I say to a connection or client, I have had a lot more new business clients and prospective connections since becoming Chartered and Certified.

    There are many more facets to becoming a good adviser than merely qualifications, however none can be demonstrated as quickly as your qualifications for first impressions.

    Also, as I am sure you are aware, only around 5/600 advisers have both chartered and certified titles out of around 20,000 advisers so there is clearly differentiation there.

    I do agree though that we seem to be one of the the only industry’s where we are so concerned about exams. Doctors, lawyers, etc.. rarely state them

    Reply

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