Your Value Proposition: Positioning your practice in a competitive landscape

Financial Advisory

21 April 2016

Financial Advisory

Facilitated and written by: Lawrence Emm – Better Business Insights Expert: Kathleen Pritchard – Legg Mason

Headline Finding 1:

Attendees in this session were typically looking for insights in relation to:

  •          sharing how other firms are developing and communicating their client proposition
  •          understanding where efficiencies might be gained
  •          identify the best way to structure a client proposition and monitor its success
  •          how do we align a firm’s activity with what clients really value
  •          how to further develop a client proposition and differentiate the offering

Headline Finding 2:

The ability of an advice firm to clearly articulate and demonstrate value to a client effectively is a real differentiator.  This differentiation is more likely to be achieved where a firm implements a structured approach to developing and refining its client value proposition and looks in detail at each of the critical components. 

Typically these core components are likely to be: a mission statement; the client experience; wealth management services; investment management process; and on-going client services. The value proposition is the complete package of these components.

Headline Finding 3:

An advice firm’s mission statement is often confused with being its value proposition. The mission statement is only a paragraph by way of an introduction to the value proposition. Many firms experience real difficulty in getting started and actually writing down a mission statement because of this confusion. However, it is better to write something down and work on refining these initial thoughts than to stall or stop because we can’t find exactly the right words and phrases or because we feel it is incomplete or not well polished. As an alternative approach, many firms work on the other core components and then create their mission statement after these have been developed. 

The focus in the mission statement should be on expressing three things: the types of client you want to work with; what you do as an advice firm; and an outline of the firm’s philosophy or vision.

Headline Finding 4:

The client experience is an important part of creating value as it should clearly set mutual expectations and should outline the process and the experience the adviser and client will go through together. Good visuals and a clear ‘road map’ will not only help highlight the various points of value that the client will experience as the relationship develops, but can also serve to map the processes and identify efficiencies. These visuals evidence the real choices that clients have when working with you, and importantly, highlight how you will help them make the most appropriate choices to meet their expectations and needs.

The words, images, concepts and processes described are critical in articulating value and forming part of the firm’s culture and brand, but these must be created from the actuality of what is done day to day by people within the business. It is less important to have a fantastic ‘marketing’ tool than to create something which clients can understand and which people within the firm are proud of and feel represents the value they deliver to clients. It is less about the ‘extraordinary’ and more about routinely delivering on what you have promised clients.

Many successful firms utilise the knowledge and experience of all their staff to help create an effective client route map and the key words that demonstrate where client value is added. Many firms do not effectively set out or explain the full extent of their services and value touch points. We often assume that the client will ‘see the value’ when in reality we need to explain this from the initial point of client contact and reinforce these messages throughout the life of the client relationship whether face-to-face in meetings, Skype meetings, reports, emails, website, valuations or any other client touch point with whoever in the business.

In order to achieve a consistent approach and to help develop brand identity it is important that all staff are trained in the core elements of the client value proposition so that they can consistently explain, deliver and fulfil the spirit of the brand and routinely meet client expectations. Client feedback is a powerful tool in evidencing where this is achieved and maintained by an advice firm.

Headline Finding 5:

The earlier presentation: “Applying Neuroscience to your Business” by Professor Tara Swart helped attendees recognise the importance of putting the client at the heart of the value proposition. There can be real benefit in actively and routinely seeking feedback from clients on the specific experience they encountered within either the advice process or the delivery of on-going services. This feedback is far more powerful than simply being MI (management information) and will give real insight as to where clients place real value and whether your client proposition is correctly aligned with these tough points now and in the future.

Next Steps

The group seemed to gain benefit from the discussion on the value proposition. One delegate raised the issue of ‘pricing’ and clients challenging fee levels now and in the future as the market becomes more competitive. This, therefore, might be a useful topic for inclusion in a future Meeting of Minds.