On Spiritual Value

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of travelling around Australia (bits of it anyway) with Ron Baker – the Founder of the Verasage Institute.  Ron is the world leader in the concepts of The Firm of the Future and fixed price services from professional firms such as accountants, lawyers, IT guys and the like.  He has written a number of books on this and other topics and has a great presentation style.  Anyway, enough about him – on to the message!

Ron discussed at his presentations in Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney the perceptions that customers have as to value they get from the experience they have with their advisors.  As he mentioned, the examples of the value that can be added (by accountants in this example) include: budgets, business plans, tax advisory work and the like. 

Ron argues (and I think he’s right here), that at least two-thirds of the value that we provide to customers is “intangible” or, as he puts it, “spritual”.  The argument goes that the care provided, the thinking, the concern and the other “stuff” that comes from a very positive, open and frank relationship is held in much higher regard than a tax return or set of financial statements (which are often a grudge purchase).

Thinking about this over the past week or so has shown that he is right.  The things that I value in the relationships I have with my advisors are not really connected with their professional competence (that’s a “table stake” according to Ron) – it has to do with their apparent concern and care for what’s going on in my life.

This approach and the underlying decency inherent in it will gain a lot of traction in the coming years.  Things will move from “we’re the expert” to a more collaborative approach where advisors and their customers will work together on mutual goals and achievement of the things that are really important to and for the customer – this can only be a good thing on so many fronts. 

So when you next have the opportunity to assess the quality of your advisor, have a think about how much “intangible” support they provide you.  It might well be a pause for reflection – by both parties!

As it was said somewhere before – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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