Put people first to stand out

What is your firm’s product? Financial planning? Investment performance? Anything else? Read about it in my new article in Advisor Perspectives.


How a product or service is packaged and presented has a huge impact on the way its value is perceived. The sleek design of the iPhone, the Apple logo and the box it comes in all “scream” quality and hipness. And Starbucks made a name for itself with the “Starbucks Experience.” That lesson applies to advisors, who must scrutinize the elements of their personal interactions with clients to the same degree as they do their investment and planning processes.

When I was a young apprentice in my 20s at a large international accounting firm, I worked on a tax return of a manufacturing company. It was a good-sized business, but tiny by the firm’s standard; its clients comprised mostly Fortune 1000 Companies. Though expecting a straightforward tax return, I encountered an issue that required some in-depth research and analysis. By the time I completed the return, I felt proud of the quality of the finished product and the team of professionals who worked on it. But I learned later that the client wasn’t happy with the many extra thousand dollars in the invoice.

If only the client knew the expertise and knowledge it took to prepare the return.

But it was what the firm’s partner told me that stuck with me to this day.

Read more in Advisor Perspectives.