5 Steps to Developing Your Unique Value Promise

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Your unique value promise (UVP) is nothing more than a short statement that clearly communicates the benefits your client and prospects get by using your service, process or advice. It pulls together all the complexity of your pitch into something that people can easily differentiate from the competition. Your UVP needs to be very specific. Simply describing the features or capabilities of your offer is not enough. Clients want to understand the benefits they will receive. Your unique value promise must focus on what your client really wants, needs and values, including how you will solve their problems or to improve on existing solutions.

Your UVP must answer in a compelling manner:

“Why should I buy this from you?” AND “Why should I do what you’re advising?”

Example: Telling people to buy a tire because of the specific treads is a FEATURE of the tire. Telling them to buy the tire for the safety of their family is the BENEFIT to them. The big task is helping clients connect with how the specific value you’re offering will benefit them, prompting them to think; “Yes, that’s right for me…”

All successful FA businesses have created a distinct value promise. Unfortunately, many advisors attempt to use another practice’s UVP and superimpose it into their practice and expect it to work. It won’t. Your value promise MUST BE UNIQUE to your business.

STEP 1: Know your ideal client.

Your ideal client is one you truly enjoy and appreciate working with. They’re the ones who are a perfect fit for what you offer. They are your advocates. Ideal clients generate an effortless energy, a shared vision or goal. Taking on less-than-ideal-clients might be necessary for financial reasons, but they usually turn into a greater challenge in the long haul.

STEP 2: Who is your target market?

Like many FA businesses, you likely have a lot of competition standing between you and a prospect. Narrowing your focus to one specific demographic gives potential clients a reason to notice you. If you’re not differentiating yourself in the marketplace, prospects look at price as the motivator of choice and then look for the cheapest. This can remain a challenging career theme for most advisors until they make the time to define a target market. Having a target market gets you focused and talking to right group of folks.

STEP 3: Know the needs of your target client and how you solve those needs.

Do your research to uncover the needs and concerns of your target market. Be sure you understand and can articulate exactly how you can help solve those needs and concerns. Resist the urge to focus on features. Clients and prospects don’t care about the financial plan (feature), they want to know what the financial plan will do for them (benefit). They want to know how you can solve their problems. What’s in it for the client? Once they understand the benefit to them, their resistance will drop and they’ll be open to giving you the necessary face-to-face meeting to further resolve their needs and concerns.

STEP 4: Know your product, service, process or advice.

Some advisors become too focused on a product, service, process or advice and the reasons a prospect or client should buy them, while neglecting the true client concern. For example, a large FA team used their marketing materials to focus on the endless features of their offering, that they felt were better than the those of the competition, without the mention of the benefit to the client. This marketing direction alienated their target market.

STEP 5: Be the expert.

One way to hone in on a specific sector is to become an established resource or expert in a topic of choice. If you’re perceived as an expert in your field, people will pay the price tag on whatever you offer. You can build up credibility by offering complementary information through your website or social media. Complementary information could include tips, industry information, or niche data that will help clients think of you as a reliable expert in that area. Your credibility increases with giving away information. It creates the perception: “If this is the value I’m getting for free, what will I get if I pay for it”?

Creating a unique value promise is part of having a successful business strategy. Satisfied clients are the source of a sustainable value creation. Developing a value promise is based on a review and analysis of your ideal client, your target market, your target market’s key concern and needs, and how your offerings will help solve those problems. Ultimately, your UVP will address the benefits, risks and value that your business can deliver to your clients, prospects and other third party professionals.

ALLIANCES: Together We Are Stronger

A prospective client recently sent me an email that closed with the following:

“Thanks to you for reaching out to us. We seem to strongly agree with you that the key to success in the future is collaboration. As I look at the team you have put together, I have to congratulate you. This is an impressive team of experienced professionals. I have to tell you that every time I see groups like yours formed, I am reinvigorated that eventually someone will develop a service model that truly serves the client. With thanks and gratitude to you for what you all are doing.” IMG_0175 This email was another confirmation for us as to the value of strategic alliances. Alliances provide for a “together we are stronger” atmosphere for the following reasons:

A strategic alliance creates a network that is attractive to clients as a one-stop-shop by creating value beyond what an individual company can deliver. It provides the opportunity to offer a wider range of services to clients that otherwise would not be available. It is vital to a business’ success to focus on its core competencies because when a business becomes a jack-of-all-trades, it becomes a master of none. An alliance allows a company to offer its clients a whole new realm of services without losing focus on its own capabilities and its specialized services.

A strategic alliance increases brand awareness to prospective clients that the business may not have reached beforehand. Each business offers a different set of services that are directed toward similar target audiences allowing the business to increase its market size with little impact on the business. If your brand awareness isn’t growing, your business isn’t growing.

A strategic alliance builds additional opportunities to market for minimal additional spend. In addition to each individual or company marketing on their own, an alliance can collectively utilize websites, marketing materials, social media, and industry conferences to share the value of the alliance and create additional marketing opportunities for members of the alliance.

A strategic alliance can compete more effectively by combining various strengths and expertise. Synergy and competitive advantage are elements that lead businesses to greater success.

A strategic alliance ignites a spirit of innovation, provides for collective thinking and problem solving, promotes networking, increases advocacy, and expands the industry knowledge of the members.

What strategic alliances have you developed to grow your business?

Check out our alliance at www.theorchidalliance.com. The Orchid Alliance is an alliance of experienced corporate executives thriving in the entrepreneurial environment by coming together to utilize their deep experience, to follow their passions and to focus their talents on delivering sophisticated training, coaching, marketing, product and platform solutions. The Orchid Alliance taps into the vast network already established by Orchid Network LLC, an executive search and consulting firm, and solves for some of the most challenging business development issues facing the financial services industry today.

What Does It Cost to Launch a Mutual Fund … Really

My first experience with launching a mutual fund was a little like the old adage about the blind men and the elephant. Everyone I turned to for advice was very helpful about one piece of the puzzle – but I never felt like I had the full picture. A big part of why we launched Independent Channel Advisors was to help RIAs and other Investment Managers bridge this knowledge gap when bringing their new products to market.

So, onto the main question of this post:

What does it cost to launch a Mutual Fund?

The short answer is $70K to $85K depending on whether it’s a traditional or alternative asset class fund. Where your fund falls on this spectrum depends on the type of fund, the number of share classes, whether you want audited performance in the prospectus, etc. Here’s a breakdown of the key expenses:

Advisor Expenses Traditional Asset Classes Alternative Asset Classes
ICA Consulting Fee

$15,000

$15,000

Offshore Legal, establishing the Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC)

$0

$15,000

Outside Counsel, establishing mutual fund prospectus and filings with the SEC

$30,000

$30,000

CCO Due Diligence Visit

$5,000

$5,000

Misc. fees Blue Sky, Symbol, Prospectus, etc.

$25,000

$25,000

Total origination/registration out of pocket for Advisor for one fund

$75,000

$90,000

Can I afford this?

Initial seed capital or cost of distribution is the single biggest factor to consider when assessing the financial viability of a fund. Annual operating costs will run from $185k- $235k/year. Depending on what your pricing model is, your break-even point can be anywhere from $15MM to $35MM in AUM in the fund. Breakeven here is being defined as the point at which the fund pays for itself. Several variables go into the breakeven calculation but the primary factors are the management fee and the fee cap that most managers will set for initial shareholders.

It is essential when launching a fund that managers have a plan for achieving profitability within a reasonable time period. Most plans will include one or more of the following options:

  1. Moving existing clients into your fund (Best option, if you already have an RIA business to support it)
  2. Seed capital through an investor (Can be a good option depending on the economics)
  3. 3rd Party Marketing (Make sure you do due diligence on the 3rd PM before signing any agreement)

We support clients with all three of these options. My earliest experience was with the first of these strategies, option (a). Interestingly, we found that moving smaller accounts out of separate accounts and into a pooled vehicle was great for both our clients and our firm. In our next blog post I’ll detail what we learned.

For more information please feel free to contact us today!

Dimensions to a Great Client Experience

When clients perceive multiple and equal substitutes for the provision of a service, there is downward pressure on price. By differentiating your client experience, you can protect your margins, increase client loyalty, and gain more word-of-mouth promotion of your financial advisory business.

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When most or all of these elements are present, odds are greatly increased that you’ll deliver a great client experience

  1. Value. Value is a foundation for the overall experience. The client must answer the question: “Are we better off?” Do your clients fully appreciate the value you are currently offering? What could you do to enhance their perception of value-added in your relationship? Are you regularly tracking and communicating your impact? Would greater communication and transparency enhance your client’s sense of value?
  2. Education. Do your clients feel they have learned on a personal level that you have improved their financial goals? What are you doing to educate your clients? What can you do to build your client’s sense of security with your FA business?
  3. Engagement. Do your clients feel like active, involved participants in their financial investment process? Or do they feel like something is being “done” to them? What opportunities could you create to draw your clients in and make them greater participants?
  4. Emotional Resonance. Are you engaging your clients’ emotions—their hearts—through the experiences you create? Are your conversations always focused on the analytical and rational, or do you also touch on the emotional side and ask questions about feelings—about fears, hopes, excitement, and aspirations? Could you infuse your presentations with more stories, graphics, and videos?
  5. Entertainment. Have you captured the client’s attention and created enjoyment and fun? This is not trivial: People learn more, are more engaged, and are more open to new ideas when they are having fun. Is working with you, your team, and your support staff enjoyable?

When most or all of these elements are present, the odds are greatly increased that you’ll deliver a great client experience. The results can be powerful!

A Great Client Experience Creates a Great Client

The new standard for financial service won’t just be happy clients; it will be clients who depend on you to be there for them for their wealth counseling needs. These savvy investors will value inherently in the premium level of client experience you deliver. Keeping pace with rising service levels year after year is vitally important. However, effectively raising experience levels proves to be difficult in implementation. Many advisory businesses are still not delivering exceptional client experiences.

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Clients expect consistently high quality responses to their wealth planning needs

In addition, increasing choices and rising client expectations make it challenging to keep your clients returning. Competitive pressures are higher than ever. Social networking, mobile applications, and consumer retail websites have raised investor expectations for the services that financial advisors can provide online.

The Internet also means transparency between your pricing and your competitors’—with competing offers just a click away. The bar for acceptable levels of service gets pushed higher each year. Services that clients deemed acceptable last year and gave high satisfaction ratings are now average. Next year, the same advisory service level might evoke a negative client response.

All these factors mean that EVERY interaction you have with a client matters. If they walk into your office, call you, seek online support or email you, they’ll expect consistently, high-quality responses to their wealth planning needs. Clearly, there are tremendous opportunities to be gained by transforming your client experience model. Financial advisory businesses that understand this are designing experiences that satisfy both rational needs and emotional ones. These Finserv-industry leaders are making it easier for clients to become loyal advocates. These advisors provide interactions that are innovative, sustainable and consistent, which in turn, build stronger emotional relationships with clients at every step. KAR Consulting knows the goal to provide an exceptional experiences to your clients is attainable.

A great client experience creates a great client