Consultants thrive best in on-going chaos and complexity.
They don’t just react, they are able to create, constantly add value and help their clients (and thus themselves) to desired returns as complexities of all sorts constantly appear and grow.
Have you read Great By Choice yet?
Jim Collins latest and best book yet (I’m a fan) has a great description of a ‘consultant’ role on Page 4. He being an avid climber/trekker writes about the world-class guide who in ‘tranquil’ times might appear as competent as any other guide, but the same guide hanging off the side of Mount Everest as she leads her team whilst racing a ‘murderous storm’ would demonstrate what makes her great.
My Dad was a medical specialist – a Radiologist.
He always held the “physicians” he knew in the highest regard. To him, these women and men were specialists in being specialists (he used to explain to me they were the “specialist general practitioner”) and the people he turned to when he was having difficulty with a case and needed advice (I understand the term “physician” can sometimes mean general practitioner as well – confusing huh!).
What I term the “Consultant” proposition in financial services is like Dad’s “Physician” term.
This proposition is similar to the Carer proposition where the clients recognise their issues as complex and they also recognise the causes of their complexities are behavioural (and therefore on-going) not circumstantial (If the client believe the causes of their complexities are transactional or circumstantial they’d be after a Specialist proposition).
But for the Consultant proposition, it’s complex (often really complex) for the advisory firm as well.
The clients seeking the Consultant proposition aren’t regarded as “high-net-worths” (an old product based term) but “high-net-complexities”. The causes of these clients complexities are as many and varied as the clients themselves.
The solution or services delivered by financial advisers delivering a Consultant proposition extend beyond the technical financial disciplines of structures, laws, economics, risk management and investment philosophies to include skills in areas like project management, strategic management and thorough (really thorough!) client management.
For instance, one of my client’s proposition is helping medical practitioners develop, establish and run regional medical centres throughout Australia. My client (originally trained in insurance) helps with selecting sites, negotiations, heads of agreements, raising capital, risk management, valuations and shareholder briefings.
Complex stuff – but it DOESN’T mean only a few firms can perform the Consultant proposition. Just the contrary. The above Consultant proposition might resemble space-travel for some of you reading this and something you’d never want to consider.
That’s not my point.
My point is that every firm I have worked with has a variation of propositions that they can deliver. Some more transactional, some more relationship-based, some more complex and some less complex.
The challenge for every advice firm I’ve ever worked with is the juggling between their many and varied advice propositions (be in the Supplier, Specialist, Carer or this one – the Consultant proposition).
I haven’t worked with a firm yet that just works in ONE area. Even if a firm theoretical only had four clients, I reckon there would still be four different propositions.
If you’re in the business of building a great advice business, it’s essential you understand who are you serving, what proposition are you delivering, what is the value you are aiming to deliver for the client, what is the price of your proposition and how are you going to attract more business and build a great advice business.
Sounds simple? Not!
What do you think?