Kitces & Carl Ep 94: Is Being A Financial Planner A Service Business Or An Intellectual Property Business?

Kitces & Carl Ep 94: Is Being A Financial Planner A Service Business Or An Intellectual Property Business?

For many financial advisors, the most valuable part of what they offer comes down to the financial advice that they give, whether it be the expert guidance they give to a certain niche or a unique point of view that presents unique insights to an individual client. However, the advice given to clients is not always the only useful offering provided, as the process through which financial advisors deliver their advice can also be an important part of their value proposition. As while most financial planning advice may ultimately be modeled on similar principles, the process by which a client’s situation is analyzed and how the advice is delivered can be vastly different depending on the advisor’s particular areas of expertise, niche, firm size, standards of conduct, and other differentiating factors.

In our 94th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss how an advisor’s process can be considered a form of intellectual property, and how advisors can market themselves not only as providers of client-specific financial advice, but also as developers of systematic and effective processes used to deliver their advice.

Marketing a service process as intellectual property can be of great value to an advisor – not just as a business venture itself, but also as a way to articulate a firm’s ethos and brand, and even as a channel for the advisor’s own personal development. While creating blogs, books, podcasts, and other types of creative work can be instrumental in publicly affirming the brand identity of what an advisor is creating, it can even help the advisor grow personally and professionally. Clarifying and formalizing what their process is can help generate leads that are drawn to the unique aspects of the advisor’s process, and thinking through best practices and the reasons for implementation can encourage advisors to understand and articulate their most important personal priorities, helping them to identify their own career goals and trajectories.

Importantly, creating a marketable financial planning process can be intensely time-consuming work and can require substantial creative energy, which means that consistency and perseverance will be key to (eventually!) developing a valuable offering for consumers. In the end, though, advisors who commit to a regular schedule to create their intellectual property offering – regardless of what form it takes – will more likely be successful in creating a relevant and functional tool, and at the same time may come away with a deeper understanding of their own character and values!

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