By the end of this month, the Financial Planning Association will release the first of three whitepapers derived from its “2016 Trends in Practice Management: Understanding and Driving Client Value” research report.
The first whitepaper, titled “Defining and Communicating Your Value” examines how defining your value and your ideal client is the first step to having a successful practice.
The whitepapers are a way for planners to easily apply the information uncovered in the research to their practices, said Ben Lewis, FPA’s communications director.
“That’s where the whitepapers come in,” Lewis said. “The hope is that each whitepaper, developed in collaboration with Julie Littlechild of AbsoluteEngagement.com, will be a helpful resource in making the research actionable.”
Define Your Ideal Client
When defining your value, Littlechild explains, it is important to figure out what makes you different from other advisers. This most likely starts being clear about who your ideal client is.
“True differentiation typically starts with clarity around your ideal client,” Littlechild writes. “The needs of those clients will influence how you define and drive clients.”
According to the research report, 38 percent of advisers said they had a formal definition of their ideal client and 55 percent said they have a “general idea” of who their ideal client is. A third of advisers surveyed said more than 75 percent or more of their clients meet their definition of “ideal.”
So sit down and decide what that definition is. If you’re having a hard time, focus on the scope of work you’d like to do, the niche you’d like to serve and the age of the clients you’d like to serve.
Littlechild also writes to keep in mind that “you cannot be all things to all people. Your value is, therefore, defined by the needs and objectives of your most important clients.”
Gather Client Input
As soon as you identify your ideal client, reach out to your current clients who meet this criteria and gather information on their perception of the value you provide.
“Qualitative feedback may be most useful for this kind of feedback,” Littlechild writes. “Consider client interviews as a primary way to gather input.”
Define the Value You Provide to Clients
Once you’ve gathered all that client feedback, comb over it and figure out what services you provide that add the most value and set you apart from other advisers.
“A simple list will suffice at this point,” Littlechild writes.
Have Something to Contribute?
While FPA has partnered with Littlechild most recently, it is always looking for new partners.
“FPA is always interested in partnering with consultants, coaches and subject matter experts to help our more than 24,000 members around the world address pressing matters that impact the business and practice of financial planning,” said FPA’s Lewis.
Those who want to contribute or who want to expand the body of professional knowledge are encouraged to reach out to see what options exist, Lewis said. To find out more, contribute to the conversation about this research on FPA Connect.
Journal of Financial Planning