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Advisers need to set themselves apart from the industry clutter

07 July 2014 Jonathan Faurie
Jonathan Faurie, FAnews Journalist

Jonathan Faurie, FAnews Journalist

Personal branding is one of the easiest ways to achieve success in any industry. Studies show that the public cares as much about the brand of a product than the actual product itself. Bearing this in mind, is it not time for advisers to start raising the profile of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) mark as a trusted brand name?

Speaking at the FPI (Financial Planning Institute) Convention on 25 June, Helen Nicholson, CEO of The Networking Company, said that spreading the word about the CFP brand as an educated brand ambassador is the best way to achieve this.

The public’s perception is everything

There is a reason why brand names such as Levi and Soviet have become the popular brands that they are. People are prepared to pay for brand names as they associate specific emotions to a brand. There is no reason why a pair of Soviet jeans will be significantly superior in quality to a pair of jeans from Mr Price, but the public does perceive it to be this way.

“There are a lot of advisers in the industry, and it is important for advisers to separate themselves from the industry clutter in a positive, meaningful way. Becoming a CFP is the perfect way to achieve this as the public sees the CFP as more professional and will attach certain emotions towards such individuals,” said Nicholson.

This depends on the experience clients have with advisers. If they experience positive emotions then there will be a certain level of respect which is given to advisers, and with that respect comes trust. If the public assigns negative emotions to professionals, then it is an uphill battle for advisers to gain trust.

“It is important for an adviser to make a good first impression. It takes seventeen interactions before an adviser can change a negative perception. With a negative perception you may never see a client again as by nature, humans have very little patience for poor customer service,” said Nicholson.

Networking is the key piece of the puzzle

Nicholson had an interesting view about that fact that we all have a ‘coffee stain’. She said, “I was on a flight to an international destination and my tray table dropped down during take-off. I noticed that there was a coffee stain on my tray and I was bit taken aback that the airline did not make sure that this was clean. My mind then started to wonder, if they missed the coffee stain on my tray, what else did they miss on the plane? It could have been the best airline in the world, but my perception was based on a coffee stain on a tray-table,” said Nicholson.

We need to look at what our personal coffee stains are, that part of our personality may be a bit off-putting to potential clients, because one bad experience can shape their whole opinion of you.

Social media is playing a significant role in the industry, and it is key for advisers to make use of this platform. “LinkedIn is one of the best social media networks for advisers. The biggest participation on LinkedIn is the financial services industry which is made up of women. This is significant because women have significant buying power which can be leveraged off a good story that an adviser can sell them,” said Nicholson.

Look at the way you network

If an adviser wants to build an effective social network, they might need to act like a man and think like a woman. Research shows that women are better at networking than men because they base their network on emotions and the fact that these emotions have a significance in influencing the role that a particular client will play in their life. On the other side of the coin, it is believed that men are better at sustaining a network because of the fact that their network is not based on emotional depositing.

“Women are said to base their network on emotional deposits. The information and support a woman gives out is relative to the information and support she receives. It is likely that a man will pick up the phone and talk to a person that he has not spoken to in twenty years. Whereas a woman will be reluctant to do that the same,” said Nicholson.

She added that there are smaller things that an adviser can do that would improve their chances of success. When an adviser receives a business card from someone, they need to follow it up and make contact with the person. This will be a small, but necessary, change in the way they do business that advisers will need to embrace. Advisers also need to make maximum use of the space on their business cards by printing important information on both sides. The more information you can give out about your business, the more you can intrigue people about your business.

Editor’s Thoughts:
This was one of the better received talks at the convention. Most of us are good at generating business, but are we just as good at sustaining it? An effective business network needs to be built on and this takes time and significant on-going. Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

Comments

Added by Garrick, 07 Jul 2014
Ho hum. Here we go again with the good old 'professionalism' issue.

Get a grip - we are all salespeople. We want (and need) clients to buy our service and/or products.

When people ask me what I do I tell them (with some glee!) that I am a salesman. This immediately saves me having to dispense free advice or listen to their war stories about how some product or another underperformed.

My USP is is simply that I charge no initiation fees, small trail only and continue to service pretty much the same group as I have done for the past 32 years.

But trust me - I need them ALL to buy (or have bought) at some point. Not very complicated.
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