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How to get a Competitive Advantage

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Competitive advantages are difficult to attain and even harder to keep. Dean Holmes explores what you can do to put your financial planning business at the front of the field and considers what ideas need to be considered in order to achieve the holy grail of business - a sustainable advantage.

In the world of financial planning there are a range of things you need to do to be at the top of your game and if done well they are areas where you can differentiate yourself and stay ahead of your competitors. Let’s start with those first.

1. Market and Grow Your Online Presence.

Clients and potential clients are going to look for you online so you want to be where they can find you. Have a concisely written website that shows up on search – no waffling. Develop hypertargeted messaging which really helps to solve the unique financial problems of your target market. Become active on social media. You should be sharing your content across at least 2 platforms – Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The best platform will depend on your where your audience spends their time. Engage with your audience on their posts too and deliver them real value in your insights.

2. Embrace Your CRM System

Used properly, customer relationship management software can streamline your business and free up more time for you to do what you do best, personally interact with your clients. Your goal is to create personal connections and a meaningful understanding of your clients’ lives. Use your CRM software to track their families and personal situations, their values, goals and interests.

3. Leverage Technology

One of the best ways to forge ahead of your competitors is to streamline the back end of your business with strong processes and become a technology ninja. The more tasks you can automate, the more efficient service you can provide.

As a starting point, advisors should utilise automated appointment calendars and offer high-quality video conferencing. Screen sharing hand drawn diagrams and charts via a tablet during meetings is a great engagement tool via video.

Some advice firms have adopted the use chatbots and robo-advice to provide customer service – although this is still generally the domain of larger practices. However, rote tasks like data collection and sharing, form pre-population, reviewing documents for completeness and accuracy, creating reminders for account management milestones – such as renewals, anniversaries or retirements can be undertaken by businesses of all sizes with robotic process automation tools. The way in which you report to your clients can be largely automated and there are also some compliance checking tools available. In broader terms there are many software products available which can assist with marketing, lead generation and management. The point being, if you are trying to manage all of these things yourself in a manual or labour-intensive fashion you will be well behind the eight ball in terms of time, cost and efficiency.

4. Outsource

Advisors should outsource everything except the client relationship and value proposition and focus exclusively on the human connection to differentiate their services. From blog writing, to bookkeeping there are services that do it for you. Utilizing the vast resources available online via freelance services or offshore staffing solutions can boost your productivity and be economically advantageous.

5. Network With Your Peers

Whether it’s being an active member of a community like The Wealth Network, XY Adviser or Linkedin and Facebook groups there are real advantages to accessing the collective knowledge of your industry. Trade ideas, support one another and refer when appropriate. You might even meet your next business partner.

6. Co-plan with clients