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Comprehending Comprehensive

As we reflect on 2019 and the evolution of financial services delivery, one word stood out above all others when speaking with industry leaders and advisors: comprehensive. The word encapsulates the spirit of what we intend to deliver to our clients. It has been said the Inuit have 100 words for snow, so do we as financial professionals have 100 ways to describe the manner in which we dispense advice: comprehensive wealth management, 360 financial services, top down-bottom up financial solutions, customized financial strategies, etc. A unique and differentiated value proposition communicates an advisor’s desire of working in a comprehensive manner to address their clients’ financial concerns and goals. You are probably already saying it, but what does working comprehensively actually mean to you? In the opinion of Red Rock Strategic Partners there are three critical components to true comprehensive financial advice delivery.

First, we have to define the word on our client’s terms. It is vital to remember that our business has a language barrier. What seems completely understandable to those of us well versed in financial jargon oftentimes leaves our clients feeling confused and overwhelmed. Whatever your definition of comprehensive is, state it plainly. For example, not all of your clients know what it means to “focus on helping you achieve your financial goals”, but all of your clients know what it means to “focus on what matters most to you.” Three important action steps you and your team can take in the early part of the year to solidify your message:

  1. Define what comprehensive means to you and your business in plain language that is best understood by your clients.

  2. Review your current marketing and ask “are we most effectively communicating all of the services we offer within the context of our definition of comprehensive?” If not, what needs to change?

  3. Ensure everyone on your team is saying it the same way. We want to leave no room for interpretation or ambiguity. This will take focus and time, but the results will be substantial.

Secondly, it isn’t comprehensive if you are not advising on the total balance sheet both now and in the future. Many times when we ask advisors to explain their comprehensive offering, the response focuses primarily on investment management. There are a wide variety of evolving client needs that do not receive enough attention because advisors simply do not broach the topics: liability management, risk management, healthcare funding, social security, executive compensation plans, charitable giving and business owner wealth needs are amongst the biggest areas we see go underserved. These are tremendous areas of opportunity and just because your clients are not getting advice in these areas from you does not mean they are not getting it elsewhere. This leaves some of your best client relationships vulnerable to your competitors. Three important action steps you and your team can take in the early part of the year are:

  1. Delineate all of the services your business offers to your clients. Creating a visual representation of your full offering is a great way to help your clients understand all you do for them.

  2. Create an inventory of your core competencies and prioritize which competencies your team needs to improve upon. Create a plan of who is going to be responsible for enhancing each specific competency, by when it will be accomplished, and translate each new core competency into the additional opportunity it will create (i.e. by doing insurance reviews with all our clients we can potentially generate $xxx,000 more revenue in 2020).

  3. Reintroduce your offering to your best clients. Most of your top clients have probably been with you for a long time. When is the last time you have formally explained to them how your offering has evolved over the course of your relationship? Not only have their needs evolved over time, but so has your ability to help them address those needs. Many advisors we have worked with have uncovered additional opportunities to help clients because this conversation ended with the client saying, “I did not know you did that.”

Lastly, you don’t have to be an expert in every area, but you do need a team that you can rely on, whether that be: actual team members, partners within your organization that have specific areas of expertise, resources of your custodians, or third party experts whom you can call on. Working closely with the back offices of financial institutions for almost 20 years, I am amazed by how the vast majority of the resources advisors have at their disposal goes underutilized. The best and most successful advisors I know do not have all the answers. But, they certainly know where to go to find the answers they need. To do so, take the following 3 action steps:

  1. Review the competency inventory you have created and ask the following questions: “can we do this ourselves? Do we want to do this ourselves? If not, where can we go to get it?”

  2. Commit to seeking out internal resources to help you with the competencies you need to build. Schedule time to meet with your in house experts and better understand how you can best utilize their expertise when needed.

  3. If it does not exist in house, find third party resources that can help. Start with your asset management, insurance, and custodial relationships. These organizations have vast resources at their disposal on a wide variety of pertinent topics. Research additional centers of influence in your area above and beyond CPAs and attorneys that can be resources to your clients as needed.

The business of financial advice looks drastically different that it did a decade ago. I am willing to wager it will look drastically different again a decade from now. Our clients are demanding more of us at a faster pace than ever before. To be comprehensive is to be complete. Make 2020 the year that your team commits to building out an expansive and well aligned offering and network of resources to better serve your clients at every level. Execute better. Grow Faster. Here’s to your most successful year yet. Happy New Year.


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