12 – Your client value proposition (CVP)

The term ‘value proposition’ is a relatively new one. A value proposition is a simple statement that sets out the benefits that your business will bring to any purchaser of your service. Alternative terms like ‘customer value proposition’ or ‘unique selling proposition’ are sometimes used.

At Dover, we prefer the term ‘client value proposition.’ The reason for this is simple: the best way to establish and develop a successful service business is to add value to the client. This point is sometimes lost on marketers and small businesses, who express the benefits they bring in terms of the benefits to themselves (that is, the practice). How often do you see and hear financial planning practices brag about their size or their FUM in their advertising material. It’s the adviser’s value proposition that becomes the focus. 

The client value proposition should be a simple statement that sets out how a client benefits from your service. The challenge then becomes to meet this proposition.

This will almost certainly require you to develop a set of skills and knowledge that relate to your client’s specific needs. Remember, clients come to a financial planner because they are worried about something. And they generally will not express that worry in terms of a financial product. It will be usually be a bit more human than that.

For example, consider a person who has been involved in a car accident and has a spinal cord injury. They are in their mid-twenties and they receive a lump sum payout from an insurer. This person will be worried about whether their money will last for the rest of their life. Will they run out of money? Now consider a financial planning practice that specialises in helping clients with a disability. If it wants to win the client’s business, the first thing this practice needs to do is demonstrate how it will help the client ensure that the money lasts as long as it needs to.

How does the practice do this? There are various ways, but the simplest will be to be able to show lots of case studies with presentations that closely resemble the one facing the client. If the case studies also address other issues that clients often face: organising care services, negotiating return to work services, etc, then they become all the more useful. But the case study has to address what is on the client’s mind when they first ask for help.

The client value proposition shows clients how the practice will solve the clients’ problems. For that reason, better CVPs rarely focus on financial products. After all, few clients contact financial advisers because they cannot find the right financial product. They contact an adviser because they are worried about something. The CVP needs to address the worry.

The Dover Group