Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

What’s the single most critical need for advisors to succeed? There are lots of candidates – investment knowledge, communication skills, the ability to sell, and attracting and motivating a strong team.

None of those will allow you to excel, however, unless you clearly articulate how clients will benefit from working with you in a way that cuts through the clichés. 

Over the past decade, consultants and speakers at conferences have told advisors that they need a distinctive branded process to differentiate themselves. As a result, a growing number have created a “unique process” to set them apart.

Despite this, most advisors struggle to get clients to see their value.  At a recent roundtable lunch that I hosted for highly successful advisors, the attendees identified this as their number one issue.  A comment by one participant drove home what advisors need to do to convey value.

Here’s what he said:

“A few years ago, I spent a ton of time on fine tuning the way I articulate my process. I hired a designer and a branding consultant and the six-step process we ended up with looks great on my website. For some reason, though, it really doesn’t seem to resonate with clients.”

Sameness rather than differentiation

This advisor is very typical – and his comment illustrated two big problems with what consultants have been saying on this issue.

First, if you take a look at the websites of many advisors, you’ll see a “unique process,” generally consisting of four, five or six steps. These processes have different names and configurations, but ultimately look alike. As a result, what was intended to be a differentiator has ended up conveying sameness.

That’s not the biggest problem, though. The killer is that this focus on process has led many advisors down the entirely wrong path.