“What we do is provide people with dignity when it matters most,” is how Shane E Westhoelter described the financial advice profession during his presentation at the MDRT 2020 Virtual Event in August.
“I help clients understand the difference between financial planning and quality of life planning,” he says. “Dignity – not insurance – is what I have focused on for the last 30 years of my career.”
Westhoelter, the CEO of US-based Gateway Financial Advisors, says when advisers provide dignity and stop selling products, people will refer family and friends to them.
“Quality of life planning is more than just financial planning; it brings in a comprehensive holistic approach, needs-based conversations, storytelling, and resources,” he says.
When it comes to the all-important marketing, he has organised client events, is a frequent guest on radio talk shows, and has fronted educational workshops – including for high school students where he has covered basic money management.
“We use social media, community events, and marketing ideas that are engaging,” he says.
He also makes a point of saying that the complimentary services or gifts his firm provides are not promoted as ‘free’ to clients.
“I now say ‘at my expense’ so there is implied value in what we offer.”
He also recommends delivering value-added services to clients. For example, his firm provides online storage for archiving clients’ photos and legal documents.
Answer the ‘why’
Westhoelter says financial advisers should understand their ‘why’ – the reason they choose to work in the sector.
“Find your ‘why’ and your passion, and then you will not work another day, but you will enjoy bringing that passion and ‘why’ to others,” he says.
“Once you know your ‘why’ you need to package it and share it with others so that they ‘get it’ and can tell others for you.
“This will bring people to you. In turn, you will no longer be asking for referrals but accepting referrals and doing business with people who understand and relate with your ‘why’.”
… find your ‘why’ and your passion, and then you will not work another day…
In essence, he encourages financial advisers to set themselves apart from the pack by building their career and marketing on why they are in the business.
Westhoelter also says financial advisers should focus on helping clients take the ‘if’ out of their lives.
“What if I live?” he says. “This is about longevity planning and having the money you need to live the life you want to live with dignity until the day you die.
“What if I linger? This is about providing proper coverage if you become sick, hurt or disabled. Can you get the quality of care you desire to keep your dignity?
“What if I leave? This is about the two big Ds: death and divorce. Will your assets transfer as you desire to those you care about? Will you be able to keep your dignity, even after you pass?”
Finally, he says, words matter. For example, he talks to clients about ‘protection against the unexpected’ rather than ‘insurance’.