Tell people how they are better off because of you.


If someone asks you what you do, the best way to get them interested in talking with you as a financial advisor is not to tell them what you do.

When a prospective client interviews you and asks you what you do they don’t actually want to know you do. What they want to know is “How will I be different or better off because I worked with you?” They do not mean “tell me some of the activities you will engage in while you are working on my file” but rather “tell me the positive outcome I will realize because we work together.”

When someone asks you what you will do for them if they become a client, do you ever respond with answers like one of these?

  • We will provide you with a comprehensive plan
  • We take a holistic view of the client
  • We integrate investment plans with tax strategies
  • We have a fee-only, fiduciary process to make sure that we create the right recommendations without a conflict of interest

Offering those kinds of answers doesn’t actually help.

When someone is considering working with you as their financial advisor the question “what do you do?” Actually means “what will you do for me?” What they want to know is what benefit you will deliver to them. When you answer them with the description of your process or how you go about doing what you do you do not answer their underlying question. Clients do not generally understand enough about what we do to translate your activities into a positive outcome for them. Telling them literally what you do does very little to help them understand your value to them.

Your answer to “what do you do?” Can be more effective if it includes a description of some of these kinds of outcomes:

  • How you can help them make more money
  • How you can save them money
  • How you can help them avoid costly mistakes
  • How you can save them trouble
  • How you can make things go more smoothly for them
  • How you can help them get something they want

That’s why I recommend that financial advisors begin crafting their positioning statement (what we used to call an elevator pitch) with a structure something like

“People like [description of niche client] come to me for [description of desired outcome].”

If you can first answer the question they meant to ask (What kind of outcome can you help me create?), You can stimulate enough interest to get permission to describe how you go about doing it.

But at that point you may not need to.


  1. DanielleNovember 16, 2014

    Great reminder! To often we do things (like elevator speeches) the way everyone else does because that's what we hear, not because it's right or successful.

  2. Stephen WershingNovember 27, 2014

    True, Danielle. Rethinking the things we do once in a while can lead to surprising improvements! Thanks for your comment.


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