When we ask financial advisors about their “Differentiators,” we often hear about client service, investment process and financial planning. Essentials for sure, but also bragged-on to a point where they don’t exactly distinguish you from the competition. Everyone, from the newest advisor to the most grizzled veteran, claims to do these things at a high level.

We’d like to highlight another “Differentiator” that we find to be underused, highly valuable and right within most advisors’ sweet spots:

Educating Your Clients

Educating your clients is something every advisor does, but with varying levels of depth and effectiveness. Think about this for a moment—how can you educate clients to such an extent that it becomes a selling point? To such an extent that they want to tell others about it?

From our vantage point, much of this comes down to creating a system for two things: building next-level content and offering best-in-class delivery. Let’s explore these two in more detail:

1. Next-Level Content

We use the word “content” to describe the tips, strategies and ideas you bring to your clients. The first thing to address is what’s currently in your content bank. Imagine this hypothetical … someone asks you to speak for a full day in front of an audience. What would you cover? Take a few minutes and jot these topics down in a spreadsheet. This represents your current content bank.

The secret in having “next-level” content is that it continually grows and evolves. Your concepts from 20 years ago are likely still spot-on, but your clients have heard them. It’s time to mix it up.

We find that being a great student is the best way to become a great teacher. There are so many books, podcasts, newsletters and videos to leverage in building out your own content. If you haven’t done it in a while, now is a great time to review (and improve) your subscriptions (magazines, YouTube, podcasts, newsletters).

When you get a new idea, document it in your spreadsheet. This serves as your base camp for creating educational lessons for your clients.

2. Best-in-Class Delivery

The way in which you teach your clients matters greatly. Some clients will prefer to learn from you in-person, while others will want to receive information digitally. Either way, it needs to have a best-in-class delivery. This means it’s done significantly better than most other advisors would do it.  Here are a few ways you can deliver:

  • Review Meeting Mini-Lessons – This is the most practical way to get new concepts out to your clients. At some point in the meeting, say something like, “I have a quick concept to go over today. I want to make sure all of my clients understand _______________.”  For maximum impact, plan these mini-lessons in advance and have some visuals to share. Having one standard lesson per quarter makes this manageable, but make sure to personalize it to each client.
  • Client Educational Events – Small events can work well, especially if the audience has a commonality (i.e. business owners), and the topic is one that’s specific to their needs (i.e. succession planning). If you’ve got advanced knowledge on the subject, present it, but don’t be afraid to leverage an outside expert.  
  • Podcast or Video Series – More and more clients (and prospects) tune into podcasts or stream videos online. If your compliance allows it, get into it. Few advisors do this, but it’s a great way to educate, even when you’re not together. It also lets prospects get to know you and see first hand how you may be better than their current advisor.

We’ve seen great examples of all of the above—and poor examples as well. If you’re going to do it, do it right. When you do, not only can education be a “differentiator,” it adds a ton of value to your client relationships as well. How do you educate clients? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are partners with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com



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