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How to Differentiate Yourself from Others Or Becoming More Like Licorice

Financial Services can be an incredibly wonderful industry if you are successful. Unfortunately over 75% of the people who pass the series 7 exam, fail out of the industry in the first few years. These results are in spite of very professional hiring strategies that include psychological testing and a whole host of other algorithms expected to choose only people who have a very high chance of success.

I reject all of that and simply believe that most financial advisors try to keep up with their competitors without concentrating on their own strengths and weaknesses.  I believe that advisors should be trying to differentiate themselves from other advisors who either don’t know how to or won’t make the effort to break away from the crowd. Instead of trying to be like everyone else they should be striving for a total package of skills and rubrics that will allow them to be unique and appeal to an audience who really appreciates what they bring to the party.

Jerry Garcia said* it all with his most famous quote when comparing the Grateful Dead to other bands, he simply said, “We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”

You don’t have to appeal to everyone as long as the people you appeal to can’t do without you. Be different!!

One of the things that will help differentiate you from others is to create repeatable processes. This can be in the areas of opening accounts, client servicing, client retention and in the processes you choose for managing money just to name a few. At least half your week should be scripted with repeatable processes. This will really make you different from most others.

You should also subscribe to the belief that the client experience should be a totally unforgettable experience.

When some one walks into or calls your office it should be equivalent to a 5-star experience.

  • Have a real person answer the phone.

  • Put fresh flowers in your office.

  • Schedule yourself so that no one will ever have to wait once they arrive for an appointment.

  • Have a loose-leaf binder made of leather filled with testimonials to you sitting on the table in your waiting room in case someone arrives early.

  • Dress better than everyone else.

  • Learn how to communicate better as well.

  • Know what their interest are and ask them about them.

  • Provide crystal glassware.

  • If you serve coffee or tea, make sure it is premium and fresh.

  • Ask your client how their spouse, their children or grandchildren are doing.

  • Ask them how they are doing. Let them know you care.


Be at least one percent better than anyone else all of the time at everything.

Make sure what you do and what you are good at square up with your value statement. The value statement can be one of the most differentiating factors.

And finally care more than anyone else cares. Your clients want to know that you really care about them. Find ways to communicate that to your clients.

The reason all of these things are important is that you are trying to turn your clients into apostles, so whenever they are in a social situation they may relate to their acquaintances stories about how wonderful their experience is with you.


  • I first heard this comparison from Don Connelly


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