Accountants And SMSFs: What Does The Future Hold?

Is your accounting firm looking to make a smooth transition into the financial advice space? As with any business, it helps to have a roadmap to follow – and that’s where your Client Value Proposition (CVP) comes in. Here’s how to create a clear and effective CVP that will guide your business towards a successful future.

If you’re new to financial advice, how do you explain to your accounting clients the additional value you can provide as their adviser? The key is to have a strong CVP, which is a powerful tool for attracting and retaining advice clients.

In a nutshell, your CVP is a statement explaining what you do for clients – and if possible, what makes you different from your competitors. The purpose of sharing your CVP with existing and potential clients is to present a compelling argument for why they should take up your services.

“You need to be able to clearly communicate what you can do for clients, how you’ll do it and why it’s important,” said Malcolm Hills, Practice Development Manager at Count Financial. “These elements all feed into your CVP, which creates a useful framework for how you deal with clients.”

A valuable relationship-building tool

According to Malcolm, accounting firms should formulate their CVP in the early stages of their transition to financial advice. This will help them make the mental shift from interacting with clients on a purely transactional level to creating deeper personal connections – which are a vital element of the advice process.

“When firms are completely new to financial advice, having a CVP is a way of laying strong foundations within the advice environment,” Malcolm said. “You need to have a consistent message that explains what you can and will do for clients.”

While clients usually know what to expect from their accountant, their advice journey will probably cover territory that is less familiar. For many clients, this can leave them feeling worried and uncertain of how to proceed.

Malcolm commented: “Clients tend to approach financial advice a bit like bungee-jumping – at some point they have to take a leap of faith. Explaining your CVP can help by removing the fear around what will happen next.”

5 tips for creating an effective CVP

So when you’re sitting down to develop your firm’s CVP, is there a recipe for success that will help you stand out from the crowd? Malcolm says a good place to start is to consider these 5 factors:

1. Understand your client. The first steps are to pinpoint who your clients are and to understand their needs and goals. This will help you think about how you can serve your clients most effectively.

“You can’t necessarily help everybody,” Malcolm said. “You need to define who you can help and be really upfront about that to your clients, so you can start mapping out how the process is going to look for them.”

2. Create a ‘why statement’. Broadly speaking, your CVP should explain the outcomes you aim to achieve for your clients and the strategies you’ll use to get there. But before the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, you need to work out the ‘why’.

Malcolm commented: “Writing your why statement is important because it makes you think about why you do what you do. If you can articulate your passion in a way that your clients can connect with, it’s a really strong foundation to build upon together.”

3. Focus on client goals. When you’re building a financial plan, the desired outcome isn’t to make your client rich. Instead, it’s about helping them achieve their lifestyle goals. By expressing this in your CVP, your clients will soon see that you have their best interests at heart.

“Firms who are new to advice often ask me which type of investment is best for clients,” said Malcom. “In those early stages, they should instead focus on engaging each client to find out what will make them happy in life.”

4. Create separate CVPs. Just as you have targeted service offerings for different client segments, your CVP should speak directly to the needs of each specific client group.

Malcolm commented: “You need to think who your audience is – if it includes accumulators and retirees, having a single CVP could end up being so generic as to become meaningless. A smarter option is to develop a separate CVP for each segment.”

5. Be open and honest. No matter who your CVP speaks to, it needs to be authentic. Honest communication is the foundation of any successful adviser–client relationship, and your CVP should truly reflect what clients can expect from the advice process.

“Building and sustaining long-term client relationships doesn’t just happen by itself,” Malcolm said. “Lots of clients start off with fixed ideas about financial advice – so you really need to be clear about what will happen, how it will happen and why it will happen. If you don’t explain that upfront, the advice process could become like a train without a driver – no one is exactly sure where it will end up.”