Your Proposition 

Preparing for a consultancy visit with one of our member firms I’ve been thinking about the core issues to discuss, and one that comes up more than any other is the proposition.
 
Every business has to have a proposition, what I propose to do for you.  Many people simply stop at the job title : plumber, accountant, secretary, financial planner.  Perhaps they think that’s all right because everyone else knows exactly what it means.  But some plumbers do central heating and some plumbers do bathrooms.  Some accountants serve small businesses and some accountants serve large corporations.  There are legal secretaries and medical secretaries. 

And there are financial planners.  Assuming you chose that title because, in your mind, it means something different to financial adviser, wealth manager, investment adviser, life planner, then whichever title you use to describe your occupation, be clear exactly what it means in your own mind. 

I’m not arguing here about whether advisers who call themselves financial planners follow “the six-stage process”...
 
What I AM arguing is that you, the financial planner, know what YOU mean.  Then I want to ensure you can explain it to your clients, very clearly, succinctly, confidently.  Then you can spell out to your clients what this means for them in practice, what concrete difference it will make to their finances and their lives to have YOU being their financial planner. 

Then, and only then, can you build your business around how you deliver your proposition, how you plan to walk the talk.  All other discussions around the advice process, administration, marketing, fee structures and pricing sit on this foundation of “WHAT do I do”. 

And perhaps you could even take another step back and ask “WHY do I do what I do?”.  How did you get where you are today? 

OK, many of us fell into financial services by accident.  But we stayed.  We didn’t have to.  We could have decided it was a big career mistake and moved on.  But we didn’t.  So something about this financial planning business appeals to our hearts and minds. 

And why do we do it the way we do it TODAY?  I can track how my own advice process developed from a very traditional product sales model in 1996 to one where every single client, regardless of their wealth received fee-based holistic advice and a full financial plan by around 2001.  And were I to be advising again now, there would be further development of my own proposition as the availability of platforms and a greater range of passive investment solutions has opened up a wider range of solutions which, in my professional opinion, would further improve client outcomes.  But I will still be able to tell you (and any future clients) what I do, why I do it, why I do it the way that I do and, finally but no less importantly, why they need it.  After that, everything else is a walk in the park.   
 

If you're thinking hard about the nature of your proposition...

Why not access the library of resources on our Leveraging Independence page? (You'll need to be a ValidPartner to do that)

 
Gill Cardy, 14/03/2014