Senior Vice President of Advisor Education, Capital Group
At one point or another, nearly every advisor has been told that they need to create a “value proposition” to define the types of clients they will work with and how they will serve them well. While articulating a value proposition can be a useful exercise from an internal planning perspective, it has limited value when it comes to building strong, deep client relationships.
Trust is at the heart of every successful client relationship, and a value proposition doesn’t begin to deliver on the need to create and build trust. Rather than focusing on how advisors articulate their product offerings and service differentiation, advisors need to define how they establish trust with their clients. That is why we believe “credibility statements” are significantly more impactful than value propositions.
As discussed in “Three C’s of Strong Client Relationships,” there are three core elements of building trust and developing strong relationships with clients: credibility, consistency and connection. Of these three, credibility is possibly the most critical element of building trust. Below, we’ll address how you can establish credibility with clients and prospects, and we’ll walk you through the process of developing a credibility statement.
Three Elements of Credibility
When a nurse cares for a patient or when a firefighter rushes into a burning building, these professionals garner the utmost credibility with the people they are helping. As a society, we know that nurses and firefighters have the training and experience necessary to do their jobs and have taken an oath to fulfill their job in service to others. But what does credibility look like when it comes to delivering financial advice?
Credibility is something that all successful advisors have built, but few understand where their credibility comes from. In working with thousands of advisors to help them grow their practices, we have found that credibility is a function of three primary elements: credentials, competence and character.
Formulating Your Credibility Statement
Your credentials, competence and character need to be communicated and reinforced throughout each client relationship. But it is especially important to convey these concepts at the outset of the relationship. That is why having a credibility statement that succinctly delivers these ideas is so helpful.
A well-crafted credibility statement is one to three sentences that describe your qualifications, what you do and your results. Your credibility statement should serve as your elevator pitch: it conveys what you stand for, what you deliver and what you promise in a succinct yet powerful package.
Here is an example of a credibility statement that we created:
For over 17 years, our team has proudly provided investment advice and has helped build and implement investment strategies for individuals, families and businesses in the greater Detroit area. Drawing on our team’s experience working in the accounting and management consulting industries, we have helped individuals and families work toward reaching their retirement, college and legacy planning goals.
Let’s examine the three parts of a credibility statement:
To help in building a credibility statement, we’ve created a useful guide, which you can download here.
Finally, developing a credibility statement should be a team undertaking. It not only has the obvious effect of ensuring that everyone on the team conveys the same message to a client, but it also helps to bring the team together to rally around a well-defined set of values and promises.
Taking Your Credibility From Good to Great
How will you know if you have done an outstanding job building credibility with clients and prospects? One way is to ask them how they would describe your expertise.
If you haven’t been intentional about following the steps outlined above but have done a generally good job of building credibility, there is a good chance that their response might be something along the lines of: “My advisor is knowledgeable about investing.” But if you have been focused on articulating your credentials, competence and character in ways that are relevant to your clients’ goals, their response might be something like: “My advisor has explained to me his commitment to staying at the leading edge of financial advice and how that helps me reach my goals.”
Clearly, taking a focused, deliberate approach to building credibility and developing a credibility statement can be among the most powerful decisions that you can make for the growth of your practice.
About the Author
Chris Gies is senior vice president of advisor education for Capital Group. He has more than three decades of industry experience and specializes in training high-level advisors on various practice development topics.
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