The Evolution of Client Advice Solutions

Earlier this year, we published an article from The 360◦ Solution’s™ Vicki Writer. In that article, Writer said the only way for risk-focused advisers to be profitable and sustainable in the 21st century is for them to revisit their service proposition and re-package what it is they do.

Her article prompted a lot of responses as the debate over how advisers, especially risk-focused advisers, add value to their clients, continues. In this follow-up article, we examine Writer’s business proposition and rationale in more detail – a proposition that is designed as one possible solution for advisers who may be seeking to re-examine the way they add value for their clients.

Writer urges advisers to consider facilitating and managing ‘whole of life’ outcomes for their clients, in which the life insurance ‘conversation’ forms only one component of a multi-faceted client engagement service. In other words, what she advocates is not intended as a replacement for an existing advice model, but rather a new proposition that serves to complement the adviser’s existing model.

A graduate and advocate of the Strategic Coach program, Writer has developed a seven-stage program for consumers, which looks holistically at a person’s life. The program is based on Writer’s 20 years of work in human behavior and motivation. She says it is intended to create a conscious, compelling and achievable plan for the future.

The seven program steps, which assist the client to clarify their lifestyle goals and future vision, follow a logical and sequential path, each containing a full set of program modules. The seven stages relate to the client’s:

  1. Life Evaluation
  2. Health and Lifestyle Risk Profile
  3. Values Exploration
  4. Vision Commitment
  5. S.M.A.R.T. Game Plan
  6. Lifestyle Continuity Plan
  7. Monitoring System

Writer says there are three main challenges advisers currently face:

  1. Their remuneration structure is under threat, requiring advisers to develop a service proposition that adds significant value to their client base
  2. The responsibility period for clawback of commissions is being extended from one to two years, leading to more uncertainty about remuneration and cash flow
  3. Client best interest duty must become the centre of everything advisers do in relation to their clients

She suggests The 360◦ Solution model can be incorporated into an adviser’s existing business process and/or advice proposition, which can help them to broaden the scope of opportunity that exists to deliver value for each client. She says this allows the adviser to project manage and facilitate overall, holistic outcomes for the client and to charge a fee in addition to the sale of life insurance or any other financial instruments that are relevant to the client’s best interests.

From the adviser perspective, Writer maintains the program is designed to:

  1. Add significant value to an adviser’s existing and future client base
  2. Open the door to additional revenue streams
  3. Change the conversation from being product-based to a more ‘whole of life’ strategy based relationship

According to Writer, the adviser then becomes the facilitator of the client’s life and lifestyle goals, using the 360 degree program as an ongoing engagement tool.

She says her program also offers a significantly reduced cost of delivering advice because the program is online and is completed by the client. She adds it also meets the best interest duty requirement because the program is completed by the client themselves, identifying their short, medium and long term goals.

Writer notes this style of advice can significantly improve client retention because any financial products and other services are directly linked to the client’s overall goals and aspirations

She has told riskinfo she is in discussions with a number of companies who are looking at how her program can be integrated into their own service offering.

Writer is also in discussions at dealer group level, where she says a number of key licensees are recognising the value the program could offer to their advisers because of how it addresses best interest duty and aligns to the white paper that Deloitte put out on the Advice Based World.

She has also been discussing the program directly with advisers who she says are keen to embed the program into their own business and to use it to differentiate themselves from others in the advice sector, while at the same time developing potential new revenue streams.

The benefit of having the client complete this questionnaire is the incredible information it gives the adviser

Advisers who operate in the corporate super or group space are also displaying interest in this program because Writer says they accept “…product is no longer the answer.” She says corporates are making more concerted efforts to assist their employees enhance their personal wellbeing as well as providing them with access to tools designed to help build their resilience.

She adds that a by-product of her program for financial advisers is all of the retail and personal advice opportunities that fall off the back of the program because it looks at every aspect of a client’s life.

“In developing the content, I have used all of my knowledge of human behavior and motivation as well as accelerated learning techniques. I’m delivering the content to a variety of learning styles and communication preferences, so the learning outcomes can be maximised.” says Writer, as she continues to evolve and develop her service proposition.

She says one of the tools she has built into her program is a brief Learning Preference Questionnaire, designed to be completed by the client. The electronic questionnaire assists the client in identifying whether their own communication preferences are mainly visual, auditory, kinesthetic or ‘auditory digital’. “In addition, I have developed a de-briefing document so that the person taking the questionnaire knows how to interpret the information and how to use the information to their best advantage,” says Writer.

“The benefit of having the client complete this questionnaire is the incredible information it gives the adviser,” she adds.

After having conducted many presentations around the country to advisers, Writer says it is evident that the majority are very detailed in their own communication preference: “As humans, we tend to communicate with people in our own preference style, rather than that of the person with whom we are working,” she says. “Herein lies a very big problem. 60%-70% of the population is highly visual and therefore there may often develop an automatic disconnect between adviser and client when information is being aurally presented.”

She continues, “By having a client take this questionnaire, it will tell the adviser what their communication preferences are, thereby assisting the adviser in determining what techniques and tools to use, together with what words to use when presenting information to the client in a sales situation. My program will help advisers close more sales and that is just one thing the program does from the outset,” she says.

Writer accepts that not everyone is going to embrace or agree with her vision for the future of advice and the solutions she envisages will be delivered to clients in 2016 and beyond. But with the advent of the new Life Insurance Framework, she maintains that advisers know they need to be offering more value and facilitating a broader range of services for their present and future clients.

Vicki Writer has spent a significant amount of time developing a unique process called The 360◦ Solution™ which has been based on years of research into global best practice and three years as a participant in the Dan Sullivan Strategic Coach Program in the USA.

Vicki says the program is unique, is based on her knowledge and wisdom and helps to address the dangers and risks facing us all. Because of the way it is structured, she says the program cannot be replicated, it cannot be competed against on price, and it certainly cannot be sold in a supermarket! She says it is a great example of how an independent income can be earned outside of the sale of the product.

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