Financial advisors who work with or are targeting corporate executives need to be able to explain how they can provide value in a quick and succinct manner. Here are some ideas that will help you to be more effective at engaging executives.
Corporate executives have one key financial issue that other types of clients don’t have: equity compensation grants (i.e. employee stock options or restricted/performance shares). These grants often represent a significant portion of their total compensation and are often misunderstood by the recipient. Consequently, advisors who can engage executives and help them to maximize the value of their equity compensation are able to attract high net worth clients and assets under management.
Start the engagement process by asking good questions to gather critical information, build rapport and get the executive thinking about their current approach to managing their company stock and options. Here are four questions that get straight to the point:
- What type(s) of equity compensation grants do you currently hold?
- What role does your equity compensation play in the achievement of your financial goals?
- What is your framework for making timely and profitable decisions?
- What resources do you utilize to help you with your equity compensation?
The answers to these questions will provide you with insights and set you up to deliver a value proposition. Don’t describe all the services you provide. Focus only on how you can help them with their equity compensation grants. There will be plenty of time to determine and address their other financial issues after they become a client. Equity compensation assistance is the best way to get your foot in the door with a corporate executive. So your “pitch” needs to explain your process for helping them make profitable decisions regarding their company stock and options.
According to Wikipedia, the term “elevator pitch” comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. It is defined as a short summary used to describe a product or service and its value proposition in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. In my experience, a good “advisor” elevator pitch has three parts: 1) it establishes an objective, 2) explains how this is accomplished and 3) provides next steps. Here’s an example that takes less than a minute to deliver:
“My firm helps our clients with equity compensation to maximize the value of their company grants and reduce risk by making timely diversification decisions. We do this by providing a detailed analysis of your company stock and option holdings. This report is updated quarterly and looks at: value, vesting and expiration, taxation, risk v. reward, leverage, concentration and the role equity compensation plays in attaining your goals. Using this analysis and your feedback, we establish decision criteria that are monitored daily to enable us to alert you when to take action. This iterative and ongoing process facilitates profitable decisions. To get started all we need is a copy of your grant summary statement.”
Corporate executives represent a large, long-term opportunity for financial advisors, so it behooves you to hone your engagement process as follows. Step 1: write down the equity compensation questions you plan to ask and your elevator pitch. Step 2: practice these until they flow naturally. Step 3: Refine your questions and pitch going forward to continually improve your process for engaging executives. Follow these guidelines and corporate executive engagement will become second nature.
Bill Dillhoefer is the CEO of Net Worth Strategies, Inc. a service firm specializing in providing equity compensation risk analysis and tax planning applications for financial advisors.