5 Ways to Differentiate Yourself from Other Financial Advisors
With 272,000 financial advisors in the United States – and the number of advisors growing much faster than the average rate for all occupations1 – it is becoming more difficult for advisors to differentiate themselves from their colleagues.
However, drastic measures are not required in order to stand out within a crowded industry. Advisors simply need to return to basic marketing principles.
In this post, we’ll explore how you can set yourself apart from other advisors by utilizing the five basic principles of marketing:
- Target Market
By focusing on these principles, you will gain a solid foundation for standing apart from your competition.
First, identify a niche target market
We understand the temptation to accept every person in need of financial services. This is especially true of newer advisors – it’s difficult to be exclusive when there are barely enough clients to keep you busy each month.
However, it’s important to resist the temptation to become an advisor for every person. An advisor that serves everyone in truth serves no one.
As a financial advisor that specializes in military families, for example, you want to become well-versed in the specific challenges that military families face. Don’t cast your net too wide, or potential clients will regard you as generic rather than as a specialized advisor that tailors solutions to suit their needs.
To identify your niche market:
- Start with yourself. Reflect on your personal experiences – is there a demographic identifier that you feel passionate about? Perhaps your childhood friend is a high-earning doctor that still lives paycheck-to-paycheck. Or maybe you’ve experienced the personal anguish of a grandparent passing without setting his estate in order. A personal connection to a specific market will help you stand apart from your competition.
- But, don’t limit yourself to personal experiences. If you have a personal background with military families, but feel a strong passion for tech entrepreneurs, feel free to pursue the latter market. Regardless of what your personal history is, it is important to utilize your passion in order to build an authentic connection with your clients.
- Then, go local. While it’s possible to serve clients across the United States, you will become far more effective if you start within your local community. Don’t be afraid to take this a step further. For example, before serving all small business owners in Fort Worth, perhaps you want to start with the business owners that are part of your community organization.
Next, brainstorm ideas to set your products apart
The idea of a financial advisor differentiating her products may seem paradoxical. Stocks, bonds, estate plans, tax management – all financial advisors operate within the same pool of products.
With this in mind, it helps to consider yourself as not only a financial advisor. Financial advisors play a variety of roles, including educator, counselor, coach, and accountability partner.
When brainstorming differentiation ideas, ask yourself –
- What products can I offer that will make me a better educator?
- What services can I provide that will make me a better accountability partner?
- Which tools can I apply that will help my clients meet their goals faster?
Possible areas may include -
- Education: How do you teach your clients complex financial topics? Perhaps your clients can access a private library of videos for small business owners. Or maybe your clients receive bi-weekly links to a personal blog that explains trending topics in finance. If you have a particularly unique advantage for educating your clients, this will help you stand apart from your competition.
- Tools: Which resources are available to ensure your clients meet their goals? Consider hiring a developer to design a mobile app to help clients manage student loans. Or perhaps your clients will love the idea of a personalized roadmap to visualize the steps needed to reach blissful retirement.
- Communication: What are creative ways that you can keep in touch with your clients? Do clients have access to a 24-7 live chat with your team? Or can they participate in a private, anonymous message board? Get creative.
- Knowledge: While basic training credentials are required for all advisors, you can stand apart from your colleagues by attending the latest workshops or gaining additional credentials to sharpen your knowledge. Or if your niche market is tech entrepreneurs, for example, you may decide to dedicate weekends to learning the ins and outs of Series A VC funding.
Remember, as you brainstorm ideas, always keep your ideal client in mind. You want to differentiate yourself while also providing products that are relevant to their needs.
For example: if your target market comprises of retirees who aren’t very comfortable with new technology, the latest financial software may not be your best route for differentiation.
Consider creative pricing strategies
Most financial advisors are familiar with AUM pricing. Advisors that use this model charge fees based on the total assets under management (regardless of whether all clients use the same investment strategy).
However, your pricing model can become a key avenue for differentiating yourself from the competition.
When brainstorming creative pricing strategies, consider your:
- Competitors: Study local financial advisors that also serve your ideal client. Are their pricing models vague or unavailable on their website? Consider differentiating yourself with 100% transparent fees or payment tiers based on portfolio sizes.
- Target Market: Is your ideal client particularly sensitive to price? You may decide to differentiate yourself by serving this need. For example, most millennials do not have the level of assets that appeal to the typical advisor. By serving cash-strapped millennials now, you can reap the rewards when your clients gain wealth later.
Identify unique promotion techniques
An eye-catching billboard on the side of the highway may turn a few heads, but unless your niche market is “frequent drivers who enjoy reading advertisements,” spending money on expensive billboards will not be effective.
When considering creative promotion ideas, always start with your target market.
- Where does my ideal client spend time outside of work? Is she part of any community organizations or meetups?
- Where does my ideal client get his information? Which books, blogs, and magazines does he read?
Let your insight guide your brainstorming. For example, if your niche market is families with special needs children, you may decide to become an active member of a special needs group rather than purchasing a 30-second radio spot.
Start with your ideal client, then let his or her needs guide your decision-making.
Consider adjusting the way you deliver your services
In traditional marketing, “place” refers to the ways in which companies move products from production to end user. However, as a financial advisor, you are the product – to stand out from the competition, consider creative ways that you can communicate with your clients.
For example: if your niche market is busy, globe-trotting CEOs, you may decide to differentiate yourself by offering a Skype meeting service to accommodate busy schedules.
One financial advisor in Charlotte, North Carolina, differentiated herself by converting a school bus into a mobile finance office. Her business – which gained national attention due to her unique office setting – has allowed her to stand apart from peers by being hyper-accommodating to her clients.
Bonus tip! Brainstorm creative partnerships
While not part of the traditional marketing mix, partnerships can also be a vital component for setting your services apart from the competition. Consider forming partnerships with other businesses that also cater to your target audience.
For example, if your target market is women executives, perhaps you may consider partnering with an executive mentoring program that’s exclusive to women.
By leveraging strategic partnerships, you will differentiate yourself by providing services that are tailored to meet your clients’ needs.
Focus on Providing Value
While it’s difficult to stand out within a crowded industry, you will always set yourself apart if you center your efforts on providing a unique value that’s relevant to your market.
For information on which Axos Advisor products can help you stand apart, email us at [email protected].
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Personal Financial Advisors, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm (visited March 23, 2018).
5 Ways to Differentiate Yourself from Other Financial Advisors
This blog post was published by Axos Bank on April 23, 2019 and last updated on April 23, 2019.