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Phil Wickenden: Providers must address the value-delivery gap


You have to do hard things to be successful in life. The things no one else is doing. Why? Well there are some existential reasons: for instance, life coaches will tell you those are the things that define you, the things that make the difference between existing and living. This may well be true but if that does not float your boat then author, entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin rather gets to the point: “By doing hard work that others fear, you create unique value”.

The logic follows that because it is hard 99 per cent will not bother, which makes it even more exceptional when you decide to roll your sleeves up and deliver something special. And who doesn’t like special? This adviser does: “They make you feel special. They spent the whole day with me in person working through three complex cases I had when they did not really need to. You can’t put a price on that kind of experience.”

Unfortunately, this is an exception. We asked advisers what service and support they value in relation to retirement planning and how well they are currently served in those areas. There is a clear service deficit when we consider value versus delivery (alarmingly most pronounced in those areas most keenly sought after by advisers).

Advisers value direct contact and staff expertise above secondary resources and tools. However, as a rule, it is the areas of greatest importance where we see comparative under-delivery across the industry – possibly because this stuff is hard (and expensive) to do well. Advisers most covet case related technical support, online content and telephone consultant support – though in each of these cases perceived industry standards are notably lower.

On the flipside, the value-delivery gap is narrowest with educational materials/conversation starters. No surprises there, as they typically require the smallest investment of resources. In short, this is “easy” territory. That is not to say you should not do it but there is a surfeit of collateral out there so do not expect to be revered for adding to noise.

So, back to the hard stuff. Few providers consistently invest here, let alone stand out, meaning those that do (both) will benefit from a positively disproportionate impact on advisers’ propensity to do business with them.

Of course, the hard things are often the easiest things to avoid. To procrastinate. To make excuses. To pretend they somehow do not apply to you and your business. Up to you.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So here’s The Plan 



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