Imagine your client-to-be comes to you and says:
“I see you are the perfect financial planner for me because of your professional designation. So therefore, I would really like to work with you”
If you have experienced this, then stop reading this article.
Otherwise, you might want to continue.
Imagine if every doctor, physician, nurse, surgeon, general practitioner, physiotherapist, or every other person working in the medical industry called themselves a Medical Advisor.
Who would you turn to for your health problem and how would you know the difference?
You probably don’t know. Am I right?
So, let’s think of something to make this clearer for you. For example by giving a designation for every Medical Advisor.
Like a Medical Advisor CMA, Medical Advisor CHMA, Medical Advisor MDMA, or Medical Advisor FMA.
Do you know now which medical advisor to call for your health problem?
And do you recognize now what your client experiences when searching for a financial advisor?
In my (small) country Holland are already too much designations for financial advisors. But after reading Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen, I’m really astonished. Olen explains that there are more than 200(!) designations in the financial services industry.
If there are 200+ designations, how on earth does your client know the difference between all this designations? This alphabet hodgepodge of titles makes it difficult, if not impossible to distinguish one from the other. While three designations is already too many, 200 is totally absurd.
What it means for your client
The effect is that your (future) client is in doubt. He has a problem and he wants the perfect financial advisor to solve it. But he doesn’t know which advisor to hire. Remember the Medical Advisor in the beginning of the article.
Your clients hate it when they don’t know. It costs time, money and energy. They are used to the fact that every piece of information is two seconds away. They don’t want to spend their precious time on finding out what your designation does or doesn’t mean.
So why are we making it so difficult for the ones who are the lifeblood of our financial planning business?
What clients expect from you is that you convince them to decide. Because otherwise he keeps hesitating and his question marks won’t go away. Smart financial planners know that they need to help their clients to decide. Actually, they see it as one of their most important tasks.
By removing doubts and appealing to the emotional right-brain. I’ll tell you in a minute how to do that.
But first, let us be honest to ourselves. Which is really hard. At least for me it is:
Our financial planning designation is meaningless to our clients.
Now, please don’t get me wrong here. I’m a financial planner myself and I’m proud to be one. I’m especially proud of my financial planning degree. Because it took me years of hard study to achieve this. And I also know that you have also done (and maybe are still doing) this hard work. Because you want to be the best educated advisor in the whole financial services industry.
And you are. Financial planners are – by far – the best educated advisors.
Your designation is precious to you. Because it was a hell of a job to achieve this feat. And it’s not only that. You also have to keep studying to keep your designation alive.
But I would like to ask you to be honest with yourself by answering this question:
Do you really believe your client knows the difference between the 200+ financial designations?
Can we make it clearer for our clients?
Yes, it can be done.
Just take a look at other professions: attorneys (JD), accountants (CPA) or doctors (MD).
CPA’s have only one designation for all 700,000+ of them and attorneys have one designation for over 1,000,000+ of them. There are several schools to attend but minimal designations or degrees.
To achieve the same “status” like these professions is not going to happen in the near future. Yet, financial planners do have two options to do something about it:
- We wait until the regulators are going to do something;
- If you do not want to wait for about a century for this to happen, there’s only one way to go: we just have to do it ourselves
So, therefore I’m going to help you change this. So that the effect will be that your client says or thinks: “I believe in the message of this financial planner. I want to hire him or her”.
What to do
In this article about the Future of Advice is described what is next to come in the next 20 years for financial planners. The article is mostly about technology.
But there’s one thing that’s pretty surprising to me. Because Spenser Segal, CEO of ActiFi, a software company quotes:
Where the advisor will increasingly add value is in helping you navigate the emotional. What won’t change is human nature. There’s going to be more visceral advice — conversations more about their clients’ lives than their buys. From the client side, that means a big change in expectations of human value-added service
Although Spenser’s business is technology, he believes in the human value-added service.
So how do you begin to add value in your client’s life?
You have to give a promise to your clients.
Giving a promise means setting your own new bar by understanding how to fill the tiniest gap in human desire. Because a promise makes your client remember you or your service.
Adding your designation is not enough. Your designation isn’t a promise, its proof of your achievement in the past.
Giving a promise doesn’t mean you have to change your financial planning service. Think about Starbucks. They didn’t change coffee-flavor. They created a whole new set of meanings that we attach to what once was a commodity. What they did was giving a promise:
Starbucks exists to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at the time
And this is exactly what people buy. People don’t buy designations or other features, they buy promises. As financial planners we often get bogged down in the features of what we are doing or have to offer. We get stuck at telling people the ‘what-part’.
But here’s the thing: deep down most people don’t care about what the features enable them to do.
Because people don’t want to do. They want to be.
They want to be less busy and more productive, be less alone and more connected, be less fearful and more safe.
That’s why people don’t buy designations. They buy promises.
If you want to know how to make your financial planning promise highly engaging, then you’ll probably want to read about The Best (and Scientifically Proven) Strategy To Make Your Promise Far More Interesting. All you have to do is answer this question:
What Promise Do You Give To Your Clients?
Leave your answer – below – in the comment field.
Let’s make financial planning matter.
To Your Success,