Providing Value is the Starting Point

Bill Snyder, CFP®, CEP®, CRPC®, Financial Planning Regional Director
March 5, 2019

How many times have you heard the comment “it’s too expensive” for a service that you are providing? More often than not, it is due to the individual feeling that they either can get the exact same service for a lower price or do not see enough value to themselves to pay an incremental price. By implementing the following steps, you can help to eliminate this pushback.

  1. Be knowledgeable about your business.

The first logical step is to research and understand the pricing of comparable services. 20 years ago, within the financial services industry, this process was easy; the price was determined by the product company for the solution being sold to the client. Today, with most businesses being an advisory service, it is a little more difficult. If the financial service price is based solely on assets under management, the benchmark rate is around 1percent. Otherwise, deeper research is required, which can entail the use of industry studies, local industry associations, industry relationships, etc.

  1. Clearly define what your service entails.

When the comment is made “it’s too expensive,” that is normally based upon the client assuming that two comparable services are exactly the same. Be prepared to describe what the client receives.

A good way to start the process of defining the service is by asking yourself exactly what a client would ask: what does the service include? List everything that comes to mind. Also, list things that are not included. Once the initial list is created, refine the result into a format that can be used to clearly articulate the answer.

  1. Determine what the client values.

Don’t just assume that you know what the client considers valuable! Many financial advisors, as they are creating their client service matrix, use the number of face-to-face meetings as one of the differentiations for levels of service: high-value clients get more face-to-face meetings and lower-value clients get less. If your office is in a congested traffic area, clients coming to the office multiple times may not see this as valuable.

The most obvious way of determining what is valuable to the client is to ask them. This can be a direct question, or more appropriately, a series of open-ended questions that build off of the response to the previous question. There are a number of resources that can aid in this exercise, such as think2perform's Value Cards, Invesco's "Your Prosperity Picture" Workshop and Bill Bachrach’s Financial Road Map®. Through the use of these exercises, you will begin to understand what the client feels is of value to them. Plus, just the exercise on its own can be seen by the client as providing value, as they may never had this type of discussion before.

  1. Consistently deliver the desired value.

New client acquisition is the imperative for a healthy growing financial service business, and the easiest way to gain new clients is through referrals from existing clients. In order to create this type of referral-based business, you need to not only be providing clear value to the client but also be doing it on a consistent basis.

It’s important for your clients to rave about the service that they are receiving; what a client raves about is either the price of the service or the quality (value) of the service or both. No financial advisor wants to compete on price alone.

When one of your clients raves about the service that they are receiving from you to a friend or family member and this friend decides to schedule an appointment, they will come in expecting the same quality and level of service. If they don’t, this will likely be the last time that your client refers you to someone else.


For a service-based business such as providing financial advice, the foundation is creating—and delivering on—a value that the client recognizes.

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