Practice Management TrendsettersApril 15, 2015

 7 / 7 / 7  Process for creating a unique Value Proposition 

Communicating the Benefits of Your Service Simply and Clearly

A unique value proposition will help your clients see the value of what you do and be willing to pay for your advice. As long as they understand how to value your advice, they will understand the costs. We eventually want to get the value proposition on paper, in the form of a powerpoint for clients and prospect discussions, and in a brochure and download PDF document in your proposals. 

Trusted AdvisorIt helps your client understand your value by making it simple, specific, and help them solve a problem. It is a shift from selling products to providing advice. In the past you would complete a financial, retirement or estate plan and get paid to sell a product. In the future, the plan (or advice) is what the client will act on and becomes more valuable. In other words, how do you become a trusted and valued consultant? 

Creating a Unique Value Proposition in 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Client feedback (The first 7)

Select seven (7) client reviews in the next month. Then select clients you would like to discuss for serious feedback.  Ask five (7) clients for their feedback on your value and their experience. There are 3 KEY questions to ask :

  1. What are the 3 things that you value the most about our services? (Ask both husband and wife and write them down as women and men vary in what they truly value)
  2. How important are these 3 things to your family's financial future, important, very important or critically important? Is there anything else that is critically important?
  3. What is it worth to you? (Usually they ask what do you mean, say the EXACT same question again)

Customer FeedbackThen sit back and say, I value your comments, as we are rebuilding our value proposition and client experience to serve you better, we could use your help. How could we serve you better and improve the experience you have with our firm? What do you clearly value? How often do you want to see us? How can we make the review time more valuable and improve your experience? (Add in any question you feel important)

Once you have this information DOCUMENTED, then sit with your staff and ask them the same questions. Ask them to identify your ideal client. Now the hard part, put in writing what you feel is your NEW value proposition. It's easy to try to second guess what your clients want. And very easy to get it wrong. 

We want to use your client’s words (with their permission and compliance approval of course) in your value proposition document. For example it can read two ways: 

“We communicate to our clients on a timely basis to meet their needs”     OR 

“I like how Neil and his team communicates proactively to us on a regular basis to keep us up to date” Bob, client since 2003 

Do some market research: This could be a simple matter of asking clients directly, or organizing a focus group or surveys. Focus on the client experience, which sometimes is difficult to put into words. 

Now write out what you feel your value proposition is. Some of the words are your clients' words and experience, which sometimes can be told by a story. This is to be tested on another 7 clients in step 2.  

Step 2  - Preparing for CRM2 (the second 7 clients)

To prepare for CRM2, you need to select 7 more clients who you will ask the feedback questions, the same ones in step 1. Only before you ask the questions, you prepare a sample CRM2 summary discussing what the total cost of advice is, and rates of return. You can find the sample at various fund company websites. Doing this exercise will help you understand what the clients will see in the future, and understand the costs of advice. 

There will be some challenges in doing this. First it will be difficult getting the exact cost of advice for the last 12 months, as you may have different cost structures. Bond funds versus balanced or equity funds, DSC, Low Load and front end, segregated funds, GIC’s and mutual funds etc. 

Even if it is a fee based account now, add up the total fees for the calendar year for advice and find the estimated number.  

Key discussion tool 

One other tool you can use is the cost of advice graphic which outlines where the money goes and what clients are paying for. It helps advisors and their clients identify what they “GET” on an ongoing basis for their fees.    

Step 3 - Shift from upfront value to ongoing value (The third 7 clients)  

Service ProvidedTo become client centric, your business should have a clearly defined ideal client. You may choose to be client centric only for your ideal clients, which helps you and your staff deliver a complete client centric experience for those people. That is where segmenting your clients becomes important. It may be difficult to deliver the same experience for all clients. Define your ideal client. Once you have your ideal client, plan to do reviews with 7 of your ideal clients. 

Complete 7 ideal client comprehensive reviews. To prepare for the review use the following format:


Past - dig into the file and document what you have provided in terms of advice over the years. Put down on one page a list of advice or services you have done for them such as helped them save tax with rrsp’s, save for children’s education, helped them with their pension plans and plan for retirement. Protected them with a range of insurances or build and manage their wealth portfolio. For clients you have had for years, this will be a long list. You forget all the things you have done for them over the years, and guess what so did they. Then you can ask this question “how do you feel about this list we created for you?

Future - Plan to use a mind map and or do a one page summary outlining future planning or expectations showing you will take care of their family's financial lifestyle.

Then ask ”How do you feel about our future planning vision map for you and your family?”

Present - then illustrate the current advice and recommendations and your new value proposition in writing (which you are testing out).

These three agenda items (past, future and present) are to help you to step in the client's shoes and see what they experience. Their experience is sometimes hard to describe and put into words because it is different, unique and creative. (Mostly right brain stuff) Finally, you are going to end off the meeting illustrating the cost of advice and asking them the feedback questions. You have already had a discussion of value, shown the fees and illustrated your services. This is when the client is now crystal clear on what they are paying, what they are getting and can articulate your value all day long, because they have everything in writing.  

Next time we'll look at Steps 4 and 5.

If you would like to discuss how to build your unique value proposition, contact to learn how to outsource this task.

Advisor Practice Management’s goal in all of our initiatives is to elevate standards of practice for financial advisors and their teams. Remember, any marketing initiative should include communication with your compliance team.

Let’s work on your business. Start by emailing us. Why not? 

Enthusiastically yours,

Grant Hicks, CIM, National Director Practice Management
Advisor Practice Management

909-17th Ave SW, 4th Floor
Calgary, Alberta  T2T 0A4
Tel  587 390 3148
Cell 403 970 8895

PS Where do you want to be in 3 years?

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