Shayne Sommer (left), Chris Morcom and Tracey Sofra

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US President, said over a century ago. Yet, his words still resonate with financial planners considering how to best articulate the value of their advice to clients.

With Roosevelt’s words in mind, Shayne Sommer, a private wealth adviser at Shadforth Financial Group in North Sydney, starts the process not by talking but by listening.

It’s not about selling an “amazing strategy you’ve developed for another client” or a “one size fits all” type of script, she tells Professional Planner.

Chris Morcom, partner and wealth adviser at Hewison in Melbourne, agrees.

“If you’re listening to clients and truly understanding what they want to achieve, you can tailor the way you communicate your service offering to them in such a way that they perceive it to offer a huge amount of alignment and value,” Morcom says.

Listening, says Morcom, can help you understand whether clients need caring and handholding or just the facts and figures. It also helps uncover issues they perhaps haven’t considered yet.

Plus, it’s not limited to perspective clients. When catching up with existing clients, Sommer asks for feedback on their experiences and what they had expected, say, in the last meeting. She then recaps what’s since been achieved and how that progresses things towards the clients’ goals.

Getting the message across

The way in which you articulate your value is crucial.

“Not everyone can sit down and read a slab of writing and I don’t think that’s particularly effective either,” Morcom says.

Rather than just handing out a statement of advice, his firm tries different communication techniques, such as storytelling and visual presentations, to inform clients on how it plans to meet their needs.

The value proposition being communicated isn’t necessarily all about you. Sommer says it’s about what’s important to clients. For example, some clients just want to know that you are qualified; others need to know all the finer details about your qualifications.

“Just because you’ve put something out there, doesn’t mean clients will interpret it the way you expect,” she adds, noting for instance, that stressing being very tax efficient might offend some people.

Sommer says the tangible benefits of advice can be shown via facts and figures while intangible value can be demonstrated by storytelling, for example, by detailing the kinds of calls you take from clients.