Visit the website of just about any financial advisor and you’ll probably encounter wording that tries to explain why that advisor and firm are “different” from others in their profession. In most cases, the differences alluded to are either aspirational or marketing speak that’s heavy on puffery and light on substance. The reality is that from an investor perspective, financial advisors are more alike than different. They do the same type work, utilize similar technologies and offer comparable products and services. At a time when discerning investors are seeking extraordinary value, the majority of financial advisors continue to appear unremarkably ordinary.
Being Better Is Different Enough
A common denominator of high performance advisors and advisory teams is their ability to do ordinary things extraordinarily well. They do what their peers do but they do it better in ways that render enhanced value to clients and prospects. While it’s true that attainment of certain professional credentials and designations is indicative of aptitude, top advisors and teams realize these are weak differentiators because they are easily replicated and often exceeded. The best advisors and teams differentiate themselves by acquiring specialized knowledge beyond the parameters of professional accreditations. They become subject matter experts not only in the mechanics of their own profession, but also in the nuances of the businesses and interests of their primary clients. They articulate this difference in a compelling fashion that resonates with clients and prospects.
Invest In Knowledge
High performance advisors and advisory teams invest in knowledge. They realize investors today are more educated and place a high premium on advisor insights. For that reason, top advisors consider attainment of professional designations as a minimum rather than maximum level of understanding, especially those who have wisely aligned their focus on serving niche markets. They engage in various continual learning activities that allow them to go deeper into the specific issues that impact their niche target markets. By learning as much as they can about their own profession and their niche clients’ businesses, they become better communicators and teachers which adds immense value to the client-advisor relationship.
Continual learning takes many forms. It can entail taking a seminar or workshop related to a niche market. It can involve reading industry-related periodicals and attending networking or social events. Many top advisors are enrolled in traditional and online educational programs that expand their skill sets, magnify their marketability and distinguish themselves from their peers. When they meet with centers of influence, they often use the time to create a win-win learning experience where they exchange new ideas and share best practices specific to the niche industries they serve. Their commitment to continuous self-improvement and self-development is not static, but rather an ongoing process that makes their interactions with clients more stimulating and beneficial.
Many top advisors engage professional consultants as part of their continuous personal development process. They participate in formal coaching and training programs that help them acquire the tools, techniques and disciplines necessary to systematically grow their practice. They are mentored by recognized leaders in the advisory profession who share their expertise and experience with them in one-on-one and group sessions. This type of personalized mentoring amplifies the quality of knowledge advisors brings to client relationships and in the highly competitive advisory profession, this can be a major point of differentiation.
Learn To Be Irreplaceable
High performance advisors embrace continual learning because it broadens their understanding of the more esoteric areas that impact their clients’ lives and businesses. Because they are able to offer more than just investment knowledge, their client relationships are stronger and able to withstand periods of market upheaval. Continual learning is what truly distinguishes the ordinary advisor from the extraordinary one. As Coco Chanel once aptly stated, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must be different.”
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