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3 Steps to Defining your Value

RPI Research Feb 16By 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.

To learn more about how to further implement this information, download the research report here. The upcoming whitepapers will be available to FPA members only. To become a member, click here.

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.

HeadshotAna Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.

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Leaders: Born or Made?

leadersThis question came from a participant in one of my strengths workshops.

“Are certain strengths or characteristics common in leaders?” the participant posed. Many questions along this same line have been asked about leadership over the years. What do you think the answer is?

Are leaders born or made? What are the characteristics of great leaders? Can you learn to become a better leader? These are all versions of the same question and a natural one to ask. Deep down inside we might just want to know if we have the capability to lead.

The phrase “we are all leaders” is true. Yet it does not get at the answer to what most people are attempting to ask, which is, “Do I have the stuff that leads to greatness as a leader?” Yes you do and here is what you need to know to tap it: Leadership is not an anointment, appointment or an otherwise granted ability; it is earned through the use of the gifts you were given at birth. Is it born? Yes. Is it made? Absolutely.

A few rare souls come into this world with clarity about their natural gifts and how they are to be utilized for good. Most of the rest of us get to figure it out and that is where leadership is made. Back to the question from the participant in the strengths workshop: “Are certain strengths or characteristics common in leaders?”

This is the question that Dr. Donald O. Clifton and the researchers at Gallup sought to answer as they began their research starting in the 1960’s (to read more about the research and outcomes, check out the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie).

Through interviews, Dr. Clifton and his team quizzed leaders across industries and occupations including political leaders. One might think after all this research the scientists would identify one strength, a single characteristic that all the best leaders have in common. That was not the case.

“A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal,” Dr. Clifton found. “What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths—and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describes all leaders.”

The answer to the question you are asking “Do I have what it takes to be a leader?” is yes. Will you become a leader is the question you need to answer.

Barbara StewartBarbara Stewart
Coach to financial advisers
Owner and founder
Accelus Partners
Houston, Texas

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Moving from Talent to Strength to Mastery

The Masters golf tournament provides a great example of talent in action. The name of the tournament represents what it means to the sport of golf and its participants. What does it mean to be a master of something? How do we get to that state of mastery? Perhaps a better understanding comes from looking at the stages to mastery.


Stage 1
In the first stage of mastery there is talent, where one witnesses or comes to know of an underlying ability. Awareness is key in this stage. The person possessing the talent may not be able to see it and an observant coach or parent may make the first observation, “You have a natural talent for _________.” Yet without action, talent can simply lie latent. Look at the word talent; swap the first “t” and the “l” and talent becomes latent. How interesting is that?

Stage 2
To move toward mastery the talent must be developed, a raw ability transformed into strength. A strength is defined as the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance. Strengths derive from talent, which is a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. Add to this natural talent the investment of time spent practicing, developing and refining your talents and boom, you have a strength. Think of physical development; we know that repeatedly taxing a muscle in a positive way leads to a building of that muscle.

Stage 3StrengthFinder
Mastery continues the investment in the talent through practice–both as a verb and a noun. Wearing the green jacket of the Masters comes not from just hitting thousands and thousands of shots, although that is part of it, it comes also from having a practice, a noun, describing the process of mastering. In this sense practice means having a discipline and a program around our development. A plan to help us move forward, refine our skills, develop our fitness and strengthen our mental toughness to keep us on the journey to the masters of our chosen endeavor.

To say that someone at the top of their game is “talented” undermines the effort required. We all have natural talents. What are yours and how are you “practicing” Mastery?

Discover your talents by taking the StrengthsFinder Assessment and find a coach for your practice.

Barbara StewartBarbara Stewart, CFP®
Coach to financial advisers
Owner and Founder
Accelus Partners
Houston, Texas