Bringing Real Value to Clients’ Lives
Advisor Matt Schafer recognized that it was crucial to offer a client service experience that would add significant value to clients’ lives before seeking out new high-quality prospects.
“My view was that we couldn’t build a pipeline of business until we knew how to truly serve that business,” says Schafer, the founder of Sequoia Wealth Management Group in Minden, Nevada. “It would damage us more if we brought new people in and then dropped the ball. I wanted to make sure we had real substance first.”
Schafer found that substance through a coaching program offered by CEG Worldwide, where he learned (among other strategies) the concept of the discovery meeting—a deep exploration of prospective clients that goes far beyond their assets, liabilities and other financial characteristics into their core goals for themselves and their families.
Implementing this discovery meeting process empowered Schafer and his team to help clients gain clarity about key areas of their lives—including their most important relationships, their values and dreams, and how they like to work with their advisors. It also helped Sequoia shape its value proposition, by honing in on the types of clients Schafer both was best at working with and enjoyed the most.
Sequioa combines deep discovery with the process of mind mapping. A mind map is a living visual document that allows clients to see a true picture of themselves and their world, crafted using the information gathered from the discovery meeting. It allows a more meaningful planning process that reflects who the clients truly are and what they want out of their lives.
The mind map has become the core document Schafer uses in all client meetings. Instead of simply discussing the growth of an account balance, he can now show clients their progress in seven different areas of importance to them. That level of detail helps clients make better decisions and handle adversity better, because the mind map gives them a perspective that a chart showing just an investment return can’t possibly provide.
Schafer believes that his client-centric service model differentiates his firm from many others, giving it a sustainable competitive advantage. “Investments and investing are largely commoditized now, and what clients want is to define what really matters to them and how to use wealth to get it,” he says.
Schafer’s approach has fueled Sequoia’s growth, with AUM growing from $80 million to $500 million today. He offers the following advice for advisors:
* Focus on the right clients for you. Work with ideal clients to whom you can provide great value, and don’t be afraid to let go of clients that aren’t a good fit.
* Go beyond investing. Given the commodification of investments, most of advisory practice’s value these days should come from services other than traditional money management.
* Start with the client experience. Get your service experience up to speed and firing on all cylinders, then look to grow your business knowing you’ve got the capabilities to deliver consistently on your promise to clients.