Starting the advice conversation


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As cloud-based technology and applications create more efficiencies for accounting practices, many firms want to use this extra capacity to offer their clients more value-added services. But many resist introducing advisory services such as SMSF and financial advice, because they fear being seen as salesmen, not professionals by their clients.

Of course, no client wants to feel like they are being sold a service they don’t need or want. But the reality is that over half of SMSF trustees know that they have unmet advice needs – and 48% percent are open to receiving investment advice from their accountant^.

So the key is not to avoid the conversation about advice – but to approach it the right way. If you do, your clients will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to understand their situation and address their deeper financial needs with insight and expertise. What’s more, the right approach can lead to deeper client relationships, better outcomes and a more profitable practice. 


The three rules

1) Put your client goals, needs and objectives at the centre of the advice discussion. 

Clients must see that you have their best interests at heart. So start the advice conversation with an open and detailed discussion around client’s goals needs and objectives.

Once you clearly understand what is important to your client, tell them in high level terms about any of your services and strategies that could help them achieve these goals. Most clients will be willing to pay for services that help them reach the financial goals that they value the most. 


2) Make sure your clients understand the value of your advice.

Nothing makes a client feel like they have been ‘sold to’ than receiving an invoice for a service that they don’t understand the value of. Advice often provides intangible or longer-term benefits. So you need to take time to clearly explain and document the value that your advice provides – at both the initial conversation and all along the advisory journey. And, make sure you call out specific examples where your advice has helped your client achieve their goals and needs.


3) Get your pricing right.

Your price structure should be logical, understandable, fair and transparent. Pricing is part of your firm’s Client Value Proposition (CVP). It should allow you to cover the costs of support services you need to deliver high quality services, and reward you appropriately for the value you add for your clients.

Consider and even pilot a variety of pricing models – time-based, retainer styles, percentage of funds under management and value-based models. All models have their pros and cons, and you may find that the best model for your practice is a combination.

We know that the practical application of the advice opportunity can be daunting. So start by tapping your professional networks and peers and speak to other businesses like yours. After all, who better to learn from then like minded professionals who are have been through the same transition journey.

As a starter, here is a case study on the Gold Group and their transition journey into an advice based model that has enabled them to meet an unmet client demand for financial advice.

^ Investment Trends 2014 SMSF Report