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Phil Wickenden: The hard work others fear brings special results

You have to do hard things to be successful in life. The things no one else does. Why? 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 American business author 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: “The people [at his favoured provider] 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 served in those areas. There is a clear service deficit when we consider value versus delivery.

Advisers value direct contact and staff expertise above secondary resources and tools. However, it is the areas of greatest importance where we see under-delivery.

Advisers most covet case-related technical support, online content and telephone consultant support but, in each of these cases, industry standards are lower.

On the flipside, the value-delivery gap is narrowest with educational materials and conversation starters. This is easy territory. That is not to say they should not do it but there is a surfeit of collateral out there, so they cannot 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 will benefit from a positively disproportionate impact on advisers’ propensity to do business with them.

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

Phil Wickenden is managing director at Cicero Research



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