Is a cliché value proposition hurting your practice?

A recent survey underscores advisors’ need to create more unique and tailored value messages

Is a cliché value proposition hurting your practice?

If you feel like it’s tough to promote your practice with a unique value proposition, you’re not alone.

In a recently published survey conducted by the Harris Poll, BNY Mellon’s Pershing has found nearly two-thirds (63%) of responding high-net-worth investors indicating that all financial advisors make the same promises, making it hard to differentiate between them.

“Our study shows that while most advisors recognize the importance of a compelling value proposition, many don't quite know how to create one,” said Janet Kelly, vice president for Practice Management Consulting at Pershing. “Many advisors fall into the trap of using industry jargon, generic terms or trite clichés in an attempt to distinguish themselves, which doesn't resonate with clients.”

A survey of advisor websites revealed one basic mistake: a tendency to focus on the firm itself or list features of its products and services, rather than speak in terms of client benefits. That marketing language includes:

  • “Comprehensive portfolio management”
  • An explanation of the firm’s business model
  • “A conflict-free environment”
  • “Disciplined asset management”
  • “High-quality services”

And when websites do address benefits that clients want, such as an understanding of their needs and working in their best interests, firms often fail to connect those with their features and offerings.

Some top advisors were found to be trying out new themes and ideas, such as “comprehensive portfolio management” and “adherence to core values,” that weren’t found in a similar study conducted by Pershing with Harris in 2014.  There’s also some exploration on the client-benefit side, with phrases like “achieve your life goals and dreams” and “using wealth to empower a life well lived” making an appearance.

“Advisors are talking more about the independence of their firms and the lifestyle aspirations of their clients,” the report noted.

To help advisors create a value proposition that works, Pershing offered five key lessons:

  • Include “table stakes” themes: having tailored solutions to meet client needs; following a fiduciary duty to work in their interests; and a commitment to trust, integrity, and accountability are necessary to investors — but not enough to differentiate an advisory firm.
  • Emphasize trust, integrity, and accountability: advisors tend to not speak enough about these issues even though investors care about them very much.
  • Put a spotlight on happiness: increasingly, high-net-worth investors want permission to be happy about their financial position. Rather than the old standby “peace of mind” or talk about leaving a legacy, advisors are encouraged to put more emphasis on helping clients live their best lives.
  • Talk less about your offerings, and more about protecting clients’ money: too much website real estate was revealed to be devoted to themes like comprehensive services and expertise. There also wasn’t enough on capital preservation, navigating volatile markets, and following a conservative investment approach — which aren’t unique points of distinction, but they do help drive investors’ decision-making.
  • Four elements make a successful value proposition statement: the most highly-rated statements among investors feature an remarkable attribute of the firm, at least one benefit the client gets, an explanation of how the firm’s attributes produces client benefits, and an appeal to emotions like hope, ego, love, or aspiration.


Follow WP on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter


Related stories:
Five things you must have to successfully lead a team
Edward Jones wants advisors with 'entrepreneurial spirit'