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A guide on how to demonstrate value to your clients

By Jo Gilbey
Find me on: LinkedIn Google+ 20-May-2014 10:37:00

With many so-called ‘DIY’ financial planning tools available online today, plus last year’s RDR changes to fee structures, some consumers might be persuaded to think that they can manage their own investments, savings and pension pots without the need for professional intervention.

Consequently, it is absolutely vital that financial advisers find ways to highlight their worth and clearly explain to clients or prospects the type of return they can expect from their investment in you. 

As such, here’s our guide on demonstrating value to your clients:

Emphasise the ‘expert advice’ element

The impact of the RDR changes has prompted myriad industry spokespeople to complain that good financial advice is simply undervalued by the public and viewed as an unnecessary expense. To retain clients and attract more, says business consultancy People Buy From People, it’s important for financial advisers to emphasise the high quality of their advice and show that it has been given in the clients’ best interests.

Doing this probably means the more prominent display of your various certifications: diplomas, the Statement of Professional Standing and FCA authorisation. After all, everyone likes to know that they are dealing with an expert and seeking such verification is something that is recommended on popular consumer sites, such as moneysavingexpert.com. Ensure your professional accolades are in full view to allay any doubts.

It might also be worth sending out semi-regular email newsletters to clients detailing general industry news, in order to ensure that your clients know you are someone who is up-to-date with current events; who possesses a wide-ranging knowledge and is therefore able to provide higher level advice which is worth paying for. A static DIY platform cannot do any of those things.

With my reputation…?

An adviser’s reputation is a huge consideration; naturally both prospects and existing clients need to be able to trust the person that will be advising them on their financial affairs. Yet with so many financial advisers out there, it can be difficult for prospects to make a choice.

Entrepreneur and ex-Dragon, James Caan, suggests that financial advisers should ‘focus on your unique selling point’ as a way to stand out from the crowd (for instance, targeting a particular niche client base). If it’s clear you offer something that the others don’t, you could significantly increase your chances of turning prospects to clients. He adds that networking at industry events will get the company’s name ‘out there’ and help to build it into a respectable brand.

That’s great, but most prospects want to read case studies or other such real proof that an adviser is reputable. Therefore, ask former and current clients to provide testimonials which can be displayed proudly on the company website to publically enhance your reputation.

It similarly helps to build an online presence, according to an article on New Model Advisor. Updating your LinkedIn profile and contributing to industry chats on Twitter can demonstrate that you are an expert in your field, boost your credibility, allow you to extend your reach and help prospects understand ‘who you are’. Remember, many prospects will search for you online before making any initial contact. 

The numbers don’t lie

What better way is there to demonstrate the value of your services than to present clients with tangible proof in the form of a report? An article on IFA Life Talk reiterates that value is best shown with ‘something visual’. It’s not enough to just tell them; clients want to see it.

Having the capability to generate reports can enhance retention as it allows you to demonstrate precisely where and how you can achieve better results for a client than they would achieve by going it alone with the DIY approach.

Upgrading current systems to intelligent, fit-for-purpose financial planning software will provide financial advisers with access to a plethora of reporting capabilities, all at the touch of a button. The ability to run off bespoke reports with ease is not only impressive, but highly valuable. Even better, you’ll be able to interpret the results for your clients and answer any questions they have.

Automation = efficiencies

Clients want their affairs handled in an accurate and efficient manner. They want their changes to be implemented quickly and their emails answered promptly. Meeting these expectations is another way for financial advisers to demonstrate their value.

To facilitate these wishes, financial advisers would be well advised to consider using software that allows for automation; that offers the opportunity to streamline processes and improve accuracy.

The best programs allow financial advisers to operate from a single business management platform, which reduces duplication of effort and slashes the risk of human error – ultimately providing clients with a far superior service. Automation can also lead to cost and time-savings that could theoretically be passed on to the clients in the form of lower fees and more time for face-to-face meetings.

Minimise the risks

One of the biggest problems with the DIY approach is that it is risky. Those using it with only a little bit of knowledge could find that they make unwise decisions, perhaps mis-timing entry into the market or opting for the wrong funds.

One of the biggest benefits of engaging an adviser is that those risks can be minimised considerably and you would do well to stress this point to prospects and clients.

Therefore it makes sense for you to accentuate the peace of mind that using regulatory-compliant practices and technology systems offer. Point out how your systems record all activities for audit purposes. Emphasise that your web-based software is regularly updated with any legal changes. Equally, it’s worth highlighting the security around your systems, something that might possibly be lacking in DIY alternatives.

Ultimately, you should be able to provide evidence that you are operating in adherence with the rules to protect a client’s investments and minimise any risks.

Highlight the human benefits

The one thing that prospects will not have with a DIY system is a relationship with a human being. No matter how efficient these anonymous systems might seem to be, the majority of people still prefer to deal with a person. Research suggests that the ability to ask questions and receive specific advice remains greatly important to consumers.

Therefore, highlight the human benefits of engaging an adviser: the meetings, the phone calls and the individually-tailored advice – all of which mass-market platforms cannot replicate.

Do what you say you will

The proof is in the pudding, as the interminable cliché goes and the best way to demonstrate your value to clients is simply to do what you say you are going to do. As the People Buy From People article continues, making sure that you honour your promises is a vital component towards building a trusting relationship with a client. It might also prompt them to spread the word to their acquaintances, sending more business your way.

There is still a need for high quality, face to face financial advice – very much so. Ultimately, most people don’t want to take charge of their investments for fear of losing them through lack of knowledge. Financial advisers simply need to make clear what it is that clients are paying for and demonstrate precisely how it is valuable.

                         

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