In the wealth management and financial planning business there is often a disconnect between what clients value and how planners get paid. I’ve noticed that in my own business this has caused trust issues to occur and have re-thought the importance of congruency in what we do and how we get paid.
I found that in my practice making the pivot from advice to products could be a problem. Most people who engage with me do so because I can help them achieve an outcome in an efficient and effective way. Rarely do they start working with me because of products we provide.
I would be working with a client on a planning engagement and we would arrive at the point where there were products that I could provide such as insurance, investments, or retirement plan investments would logically enter the conversation. When I moved the conversation to those products I could see a big change in the body language of the clients I was working with.
I found my clients would wonder whom I was working for when we started talking about products. When I started talking about products I found that clients who had high trust in what I was saying would move to questioning whether I was working for them or trying to make a sale. In fact I had clients who said to me, “I’m wondering who you’re working for now.”
The third time this happened I asked the customer whether it would work better for them if I only provided advice and helped them find others for investment and insurance products. The response from this person and every person since has been yes I would rather pay you a larger consulting fee but not have you do any products with us.
I believe our industry has an issue in being consistent for how we get paid. I’ve learned that my comprehensive clients believe they are hiring me for the advice and coaching I can provide. We’ve added help in hiring outside specialists as part of our mix because our clients have a need for specialists but don't always now how to hire the right ones.
This doesn’t mean I can’t provide investment or insurance products. It means that people like you have told me several times it's about the advice and coaching, not about the products. I'm coming to believe that those who sell products should do that and those who provide advice should provide advice. I don't think the two mix very well and neither do my clients.
Being congruent in what we do and how we get paid is important. It's something you might want to think about also. Does the service or product you sell track with how you really make your money? If not, you might want to think what business model might serve you better.
Since adding this additional method for how I get paid I’ve found that I’m happier and my clients are happier with the arrangement we have. As a result my clients are more forthcoming about what’s important for them and what they’re thinking.
I’ve put together a mind map on our client experience for those who chose to go to our fee only service. If you’re interested in looking at this mind map, please click on the button below and you’ll be taken to that page.