Vanguard: Building Client Trust: The True Value Of A Value Statement

November 15, 2017

 

[This ETF industry perspective is sponsored by Vanguard.]

It could take a handful of meetings to secure a prospective client's business—but what if you could cut that number in half?

A strong value statement might help. It allows you to create a highly personalized description of your practice, which you can use to enhance client communication.

Having an effective value statement is one of our five best practices for thriving in a fiduciary environment. It's an opportunity to tell who you are, what you can do for prospective clients, and how you can help them reach their goals. When creating yours, it should meet the following objectives.

 

Set your practice apart

Including a well-articulated mission statement should help differentiate your practice and create a positive, memorable impression. Make sure it concisely conveys your services and the unique qualities that set your practice apart.

Also, a mission statement is more than what you do. Think about the why. Be clear about your motivations, and it'll help establish a trusting, honest relationship.

Being seen in a trustworthy light matters more than you might realize. In a recent survey based on Spectrem Group data, when asked to select the single most important factor in choosing an advisor, affluent investors selected "honesty and trustworthiness" rather than investment track record, strong referrals, or fees.1

 

Describe your approach in Plain Talk®

Another way to build trust with prospective clients is by sharing your advisory approach and investment methodology. Emphasizing how you plan to help clients succeed is crucial in a fee-based relationship.

If clients are unclear about the journey you're mapping out for them, they might be too quick to get out of the market when their investments take a tumble. Coaching them to anticipate the ups and downs of the market helps reassure them that their long-term goals are still within reach despite the volatility.

 

Show everything you can do

When listing your services, carefully consider prospective clients' interests and potential needs.

Portfolio construction is no longer the crux of the advisor-client relationship. Sure, it's still important, but the industry is heading toward holistic wealth management services. In the survey, the top three services affluent investors planned to seek in the future were establishing an estate plan, planning for long-term care, and implementing tax-advantaged strategies.1

Position yourself to seize these opportunities by clearly explaining what services you provide in your value statement. Don't assume clients know what tasks you can help with—tell them.

Take estate planning, for example. In the survey, 73% of ultra-high-net-worth, 78% of millionaire, and 74% of mass affluent investors weren't using their primary advisor to build their estate plans.1 Expanding your reach is becoming an integral part of what you can do for clients.

Target services to your clients' needs and be sure clients are clear about everything that you can do for them. Doing so can help alleviate any concerns they might have about costs while shining a spotlight on your value.

 

Set a clear communications plan

Your communications approach can make or break your client relationships. In fact, in the survey, communications-related issues were one of the top reasons affluent investors cited for leaving an advisor.1

It's critical to respond to your clients in a timely manner or, better yet, to use a proactive communications approach. Setting the right expectations early in your client relationships—including how you and your clients plan to communicate—will pay dividends down the road. The key is sticking to the agreements you make with clients.

Be specific with prospective clients when describing your review schedule and client callback policy. Frequency of contact matters. The survey showed affluent clients' overall satisfaction level was 16% higher when their advisor contacted them quarterly compared with semiannually or annually.1

Interestingly, it can increase clients' opinion of you as well. Affluent clients who were contacted quarterly scored their advisor's knowledge and expertise an average of 12% higher than those contacted semiannually or annually.1

 

Discuss your fees

Fee discussions can be a major source of consternation for advisors. But don't shy away from including information about your fees in your value statement—prospective clients will appreciate the transparency.

Remember, part of the Department of Labor's fiduciary ruling mandates that advisors should receive reasonable compensation for their services. If your value statement is clear about the breadth of the services you can perform, your fee will seem reasonable.

 

Provide background on you and your team

The personal profile in the value statement is an opportunity to introduce yourself and your team members.

Be proactive and showcase the value you and your team provide. Create a website where you feature your value statement and a print version that you can take to client meetings.

Besides listing your professional experience, educational background, and any industry certifications, it's a good idea to provide brief personal descriptions of yourself and your team members.

 

1 Vanguard, in partnership with Spectrem Group, 2016. The affluent investor: Insights and opportunities for advisors. Valley Forge, Pa.: The Vanguard Group.

 

Our customizable Value Statement Builder lets you easily create a plan that shows off your value. Check it out here

 

Notes

• All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

 

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