How financial advisors can harness their value proposition

March 15, 2017 by Tom Burmeister

about the author:

Tom Burmeister

Vice president, financial planning

As vice president of financial planning, Tom is an integral contributor to the strategic vision around our financial planning initiatives. Additionally, he is critically involved in all partner interactions, thought leadership contributions, and internal training programs.

Selection Sunday® officially kicks off March Madness®, one of America’s most cherished annual sports traditions. As always, the selection committee is faced with the very difficult task of narrowing the field and deciding the fate of the so-called “bubble teams.” Taking in the action last weekend, I realized that many consumers have their own “Selection Sunday®” challenges when selecting a financial advisor. What does the selection process look like for investors, and how can advisors move beyond the bubble?

Prospective clients are out there, and many will soon be in the market for a financial advisor (hopefully before it’s too late). Only 10 percent of Millennials are working with a financial advisor to prepare for retirement. Generation X is even lower at seven percent. Plenty of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have yet to seek out formal financial advice as well.

However, advisors also need to be cognizant of the fact that investors don’t understand how working with an advisor could help them navigate through various life events. In fact, 36 percent of Americans don’t even have a strong understanding of what a financial advisor does. For example, consider the following financial topics:

  • Career decisions
  • Life changes (getting married, having a baby, new job)
  • Personal relationship issues
  • Keeping more of the money we make

About one-third or fewer investors surveyed did not think a financial advisor could help with these milestones or objectives. When asked what a financial advisor does, the overwhelming consensus boils down to two things: retirement planning and investment management.

Harnessing your value proposition

So what do investors consider when their Selection Sunday® comes around? Most investors will assess a financial advisor’s breadth of knowledge and certifications before making a selection. 81 percent of investors that participated in a 2014 CFP Board survey said that they’d prefer an advisor who can make an impact on all areas of their financial life as opposed to specializing in a few select areas.

It’s also clear that credentials matter. The CFP Board’s survey found that almost 90 percent of investors place importance on the credentials of prospective financial advisors. Even though many investors are carefully watching their favorite teams, they place more importance on an advisor’s credentials than their alma mater. 86 percent say they also look for an advisor who has passed a certification exam.

What does this mean for advisors? Value propositions are more important than ever. Show your clients and prospects what you can do beyond their perceived “norm” for financial advisors. Play the challenger: ask a client if they’ve received professional guidance in an area they probably haven’t considered asking you about.

Best of luck with your prospecting and your brackets this year!

Download our whitepaper to learn more about how to remain competitive in a shifting financial services industry.


Selection Sunday® and March Madness® are registered trademarks of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.


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