Do you pick your surgeon on the sharpness of her scalpel?

You might be considered a tad strange if you wanted to see the surgeon’s scalpel before selecting her as the one to get your dicky knee working again.

Why then do we do this when positioning our financial advice?

Matt, a great young adviser from Perth, said to me last week that whilst he liked our theories on pricing advice contained in What Price Advice he disagreed with me regarding my “no signature, no strategy” concept.

Matt said “Jim, you know you have to show them some strategy up-front, just a bit, to prove you know what you are talking about, or you won’t get their signatures. Particularly for high net worth clients who see lots of other advisers”.


So Matt’s high-net-worth advice clients are in a position to objectively assess the quality of his strategic advice to best achieve their financial objectives in the very first meeting?

Sorry Matt, I disagree.

If you are in the business of building long-term advice relationships with your advice clients, showing them today’s strategies is akin to selecting your kids school on this term’s curriculum. Sure it might be a fantastic curriculum today, but will that school get us the outcomes we want from her school?

If you’re in the business of delivering a specific financial strategy, good luck to you, but I don’t like your business model. Your business success is going to be increasing driven by your firm’s ability to continually find clients seeking your specific expertise. Which might go OK until another strategy becomes flavour of the month. or laws change, or markets develop, or client’s needs change and you’re still being positioned as the allocated pensions expert.

Don’t misunderstand me – we need experts. My recommendation to Matt is simply to build his reputation and success not by showing off little bits of his strategy, but by demonstrating his thoroughness in understanding his clients needs, the financial complexities they face, their financial behaviours and habits and most importantly the outcomes both short and long term that represent success and value for them. THEN do your expert strategy work, or get the expertise to do the strategy work necessary.

True advice clients aren’t as interested in your strategies as they are in getting their outcomes.

If your advice clients need to see your strategies as evidence of your professional ability, either you’re positioning yourself incorrectly or you are attracting clients seeking strategies for immediate needs. That’s not going to give you a great business model as the business will continually have to find new clients looking for experts in subject matter expertise.

Preferably positioning is attracting clients seeking long-term relationships which require constantly changing strategies to best achieve long-term financial outcomes.

Like the patient and the scalpel, I just want to get my knee working again (probably wishful thinking!). The strategies and tools she uses are secondary to my desired outcomes. I’ll let you know how the knee improves.

What do you reckon?

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