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

Imagine this: You are meeting with clients, reviewing the action items for which they were responsible, when they say, “You will be so proud of us. We went ahead and got that long-term care insurance you said we needed.”

To your surprise and amazement, they applied for the insurance with someone other than you. How could this have happened?

If this scenario sounds familiar – and let’s be honest, it has happened to all of us one time or another – what can you do to be sure it doesn’t happen again?

Very few advisors do as good a job as possible articulating their value proposition and the ways they can be of service to their clients. If clients purchase products or services from competitors, it may be because they are unaware of the full range of your offerings.

Often the public (including our clients) views advisors as retirement-plan specialists or asset managers, and nothing more.

If you offer comprehensive advice or planning, the benefits you bring to your clients far exceed retirement and investment management. How do you inform your clients about the value you bring to the table?

One way is through a comprehensive menu of services.

Think of all the ways you help clients. Yes, retirement planning and investment planning are on the list, but so is estate planning, tax planning and all of the insurance issues you evaluate. Don’t forget about education planning, helping them save for their first or second home, or planning for special events such as a wedding or vacation. There are also emotional issues your clients face, such as deaths of loved ones, dissolutions of marriages and births of children.

Once you have developed your menu of services, be sure to include any necessary disclosures and get approval from a legal or compliance advisor.

Next, communicate your menu of services to your clients.

A sample conversation might go something like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Jones, through surveying my clients, I am worried that I may have not done as good a job as possible articulating all of the services that I can and do provide. As such, I decided the best way to share my list of services was to put pen to paper and create a document that explains this list. I would like to take a few minutes to review my menu of services with you. I think it would be a good exercise for three reasons. First, you might have questions or concerns about something and are not aware that I can be a resource for you in this area. Second, someone you care for may have questions or concerns about something and you are not aware that I can be of service to them. And third, as your life circumstances change, it is important to know that I can continue to be a resource to you in these areas.

A sample menu of services is provided in the Appendix.

Several of my clients have implemented the menu of services and had the corresponding conversation with their clients. The outcome has been very beneficial: The conversation has generated an open and honest dialogue about questions and concerns the clients, up until that time, had been unable to articulate, which has led to new opportunities for the advisors.

As an advisor, you are one of the most important people in your clients’ lives. Make certain you add full value to the relationship by ensuring your clients have the opportunity to learn about the full spectrum of services you provide. A document such as this will help you initiate an open and honest conversation.