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The changing language of financial services

The changing language of financial services

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By markn ·
August 19 2016

The changing language of financial services

The number of Australians using financial advice services accounts for only a small portion of the adult population and the key to improving this is in changing the language advisers use, Treysta Wealth Management's Mark Nagle writes.

According to several surveys in recent times, it seems that only about 20% of Australian adults seek the services of a financial adviser.

That leaves a lot of service capacity chasing a relatively small pool of potential clients. Additionally, the 20% figure has been pretty stable over time, which should tell our industry something.

It seems pretty clear that vast swathes of our potential audience don't find what we're saying or offering attractive.

This should be no big surprise given the sales and product culture engendered by large institutionally owned licensees over the years.

On occasion, one can be seduced into thinking things are improving, but news of a client experience that does nothing to warm our services to the marketplace does the rounds, and those pleasant thoughts come crashing down.

Recently I met with three members of a team working on an IT project for our business. We were explaining to them what we do by way of background and I asked if they had any experiences with financial advisers.


"Yes," they said, "our business gave us access to an adviser as part of our remuneration package". Unfortunately they accredited zero benefit to the experience, seeing the adviser as nothing more than a salesperson for insurance and super.

These young people have likely become part of the 80% and turned away from our industry because they perceive no value.

The finance industry needs to change the way it communicates with its audience, our language needs to shift along with our service if we are to attract a bigger audience without losing the one we already have.

By framing our services in a more appropriate manner, engagement will improve.

Consider, for example, conveying that you will be able to help clients make better financial decisions; reframe the way they assess important life decisions like private schooling and help them support their passions in life.

All of this sounds a bit more compelling than 'do you have any life insurance?', doesn't it.

There's a whole new audience out there and it's four times bigger than the one we currently serve, but if the industry doesn't use language that is more appealing and compelling, it won't be able to access it.

To give an example of how this works, in 2006, public officials in Texas became frustrated about the lack of impact of a very expensive anti-littering campaign.

Their targets were 18 to 24-year-olds who weren't really buying into instructions from bureaucrats to change their behaviour.

With a changed message and TV ads featuring snarling Dallas Cowboys, the "Don't Mess with Texas" campaign was launched. The new message was heard; it resonated and reached its audience.

A 29 per cent reduction in roadside litter was recorded in the first year, while this grew to over 70 per cent six years into the campaign.

Financial planning needs its "Don't Mess with Texas" moment, so the new NAB campaign "Life's about more than money" is encouraging to see.

Advisers who get that have a head-start on the pack.

It's time for the finance industry to engage Australians around how we can assist them to live a fulfilled life with financial security.

If our clients believe we can deliver on this proposition they'll see value and our audience will expand significantly.

Changing your business language is challenging, and not without risk, as potential clients need to recognise what services you are offering.

This process starts with consumer awareness, which borders on the impossible for small businesses to create.

However, when one of the big guys starts changing their language it gives us all an opportunity to leverage from the increased awareness being created in our market that life certainly is about more than money.

Mark Nagle is the executive director of Treysta Wealth Management


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