Your ‘why I am here’ story is an essential market differentiator. First of all, not every financial advisor even has one – other than to make money. And out of those who really do have a client-centered reason for being in this business, not all of them are able to express it. So if you have a real reason you come to work every day, and you’re able to articulate it in a way that makes sense to the clients and gives them a reason to work with you, you’re already way ahead of the competition.
But the ability to articulate your story in a way that makes it stick is essential. You don’t want to get lost in the details. You don’t want to get sidetracked. You don’t want to get interrupted while you’re trying to tell it. And you don’t want to bore the listener!
Here’s a practical exercise on building your ‘why I am here’ story.
Write down why you’re in this business. For you rookies, it’s going to be focused on why you became a financial advisor. For you seasoned veterans, that will be one component. But you should also include something about why you keep coming to work, and why you love the business of helping clients achieve their financial goals.
Here are a few tips:
- Write a long, detailed version, with 2-3 real world examples of how you helped clients.
- Then write an abridged version that you can tell in 1 minute or less.
- Then distill that down to a 15-second version.
The first version is for when you are in your office or a clients’ home, and you are confident you can get through it without being interrupted. This is for ideal interview settings, where you know the client is expecting to spend a significant amount of time getting to know you.
The second version is for less-than-ideal settings: Restaurant and café meetings, meet and greets, etc.
And the 15-second version is the ‘elevator speech.’ This version should leave them wanting to know more. “I’ll give you a call this week, you can hear the rest of the story!”
The focus on your “why I’m here” story should not be on you. Sure, you’re in it. But the focus should be on your clients – and how you help them. That’s a powerful motivator for you to come to work every day, sure. But you’re not trying to sell yourself.
How to introduce and tell your story
A good ‘why I am here’ story doesn’t need a lot of setup. Just say, “Let me tell you a little bit about myself, and how I got into this business.” And launch right into it.
Remember: You’re there to actually help clients. Not talk about how badly you want to help clients. Don’t let your “why am I here” story drag on too long and take up time you need for a good fact-finder. As a financial advisor, you should be listening a lot more than talking. This is especially true early in the process, when you’re still getting to know the client.
Be sure to rehearse your ‘why am I here’ story until you know it cold! That way you can immediately tailor or adjust it based on the prospective client’s situation and your environment.
Not sure where to start?
Think about whom you’ve helped so far. Start with that. If you’re brand new, then talk to some of the veterans. Ask whom they’ve helped. You can help people the same way.
Example 1: You had an uncle who was too heavy on tech stocks. He believed the ‘New Paradigm’ hype in 1999 – and was devastated by the end of 2000, and wasn’t able to retire. You saw the effect on him and his family, and you started a business to help others so that never happens again.
Example 2: Your parents didn’t have great money-management skills. They didn’t save money. They didn’t plan for the future. They didn’t know how to invest. They fought about money a lot. And that had a major effect on them, your siblings, and yourself. You had to work very hard to overcome that. For years, you read everything you could get your hands on about personal finance and investing. And you’re determined to help other families avoid what you and your family had to go through.
Example 3: Your parents were doctors. They helped thousands of people, and saved many lives. You want to help people, too. But you pass out at the sight of blood. So medicine wasn’t the career for you. So you studied other career paths for years, looking for the one profession other than medicine that would enable you to make the greatest possible positive impact on the greatest possible number of people. And the result, far and away, was to be a good financial advisor. No other profession comes close.
Don’t underestimate the value of stories like these. These are very personal to the advisor. Every one of you is unique. No Wall Street firm can match your own individual story. Your “why I am here” story is part of your brand. When the chips are down, the markets are turning against you, and you can’t seem to catch a break, your “why I am here” story and the personal connections you forged in the telling of it mean that your clients will stick with you, even in the face of significant competition.
A great “why I am here” story not only helps you win new clients – it helps you keep them.
When you’re done with this story, there are seven more to work on.
Write them down, and make them part of your business plan.
Don’t do it during the weekday. Do it at night. As always, use your daytime and prime time hours to make calls and meet with prospects and clients, face to face or online.
What’s your “why I am here” story? How has it been effective in helping you gain and keep business? Drop me a line and let me know.