JULIE LITTLECHILD'S BLOG


What Does it Really Take to be Exceptional? Part 2

Last week I shared some new research and access to a report from the Investments & Wealth Institute that started from a single question. What does is really mean to be exceptional?

It’s a good question, and one that’s easy to gloss over.  I’m more interested in what it really, really means. How can you not only ensure that you are exceptional, but demonstrate that to clients in a way that they can both understand and appreciate?

You can access the full report from the Investments & Wealth Institute here. 

For this follow-up, I want to dig in on three home truths and the three strategies to bring the concept of ‘being exceptional’ to life.

Home Truth #1: It’s not good enough to be exceptional; you need to communicate it.

The Strategy: Communicate Your Expertise

You invest significant time and energy in developing your expertise and it’s no small feat. Exhausted, you tick that off your list and move on. The only problem is that your clients may not understand how your expertise is different from another advisor without the credentials and they almost certainly don’t understand what those credentials mean to them.

The reality is, however, that clients want to know more. Investors who are under the age of 50 or have $5m or more in total investable assets were the most likely to say that they independently sought out information about their advisor’s credentials. So, it’s not surprising that the biggest difference between clients who are engaged and those who are not, is that their advisor shared information on his or her credentials/designations proactively. Engaged clients were three times more likely to say their advisor shared information proactively.

And here’s a hint. When you think about everything that you could possibly share about the credentials you hold, the following were among the most important messages among high net worth clients.

  • My advisor would lose his/her credentials if he/she failed to meet ethics standards. Eighty-nine percent said this was important.
  • My advisor must meet ongoing standards in order to maintain his/her credentials (e.g., annual continuing education, adherence to ethical standards). Eighty-nine percent said this was important.
  • My advisor met a rigorous set of standards to be certified (e.g., ethics, experience, education, examinations). Eighty-seven percent said this was important.

While the specifics may change based on your own communication preferences, the key is to create an intentional plan to communicate your expertise.

  • Craft stories that articulate what your designations and credentials mean for your clients and how it has impacted them
  • Define a process for when you will share that information, and
  • Consider the ways you might share information, which might include: one-on-one conversations, putting information on your website, writing an article/blog post or creating a video

And don’t forget your existing clients. It turns out that 81 percent of them say they would find information on credentials helpful now, even though they have been working with an advisor for some time.

Home Truth #2: It’s not good enough to communicate it; you need to demonstrate it.

The Strategy: Move Beyond the Rhetoric

If you spend more than a few minutes looking at the website of financial services companies, you’ll discover that their service is the best, leading, five-star or quite simply life-altering. It’s easy to get lost in the rhetoric and, unfortunately, many of the words we use to describe what we do begin to sound hollow.

Since you can’t likely come up with a word that has never been used, we need to shift the focus to infusing those words with meaning. In the Exceptional Advisor Model from the Investments & Wealth Institute, the drivers of engagement are personalized approach, advanced capabilities, exceptional service and meaningful guidance.

So the question is, how do you bring those concepts to life? Consider each of the core components of the Exceptional Advisor Model and then answer two questions:

  • How do I tangibly demonstrate that I deliver on this driver (through the eyes of the client)?
  • What, if anything, do I need to improve on this driver?

As a reminder, here are the six drivers.

  • Expertise. Expertise is about ensuring that you can demonstrate advanced knowledge to support clients.
  • Ethics. Ethics is about adhering to a set of clear guidelines that dictate how you will work with clients.
  • Personalized Approach. A personalized approach is about demonstrating that you understand the unique needs of your clients and crafting a plan that reflects those needs and creates confidence and clarity.
  • Advanced Capabilities. Advanced capabilities is about demonstrating advanced capabilities and technical expertise.
  • Exceptional Service. Exceptional service is about delivering a high level of service and actively engaging clients and their families.
  • Meaningful Guidance. Meaningful guidance is about providing guidance and support clients need to make the best possible decisions about their future.

For example, you might use client communications to demonstrate meaningful guidance by focusing on topics that relate to the challenges or aspirations of your clients. That would be a tangible demonstration of meaningful guidance.

Home Truth #3: It’s not good enough to demonstrate it; you need to measure it.

The Strategy: Measure Success

If you follow this blog you’ll know that I’m all about client feedback as a significant driver of engagement and growth. And I think it’s a strategy to consider when it comes to ‘becoming exceptional’. After all, how will you know if you are succeeding if you don’t ask your clients?

Consider a brief survey that incorporates 2-3 statements on each of the key drivers. Ask clients to rate their level of agreement (or satisfaction) that you are delivering on that driver. And then ask how important each is to your clients to ensure you can prioritize your response.

Client feedback is not only a way to measure impact, but it’s important to clients. Sixty-eight percent of high net worth clients say that being asked for input to help shape the service they receive is somewhat or very important.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you gather and use client feedback, visit us at www.absoluteengagement.com/client-insights.

So no one ever said that becoming exceptional would be easy. If it were it wouldn’t set you apart from others. The model (and the associated research) is important because it provides you with a framework to be intentional about being exceptional. My hope is that this post helps you move past the words to focus on what exceptional looks like in action.

Thanks for stopping by,
Julie

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