Substance Over Style?

Sure, your business must be built on substance—a strong and growing client base, effective communication with clients and a knowledgeable, efficient staff under your competent leadership.

But style matters too. And whether you know it or not, you have a style, and it’s vital to emphasize it in order to set yourself apart in a way that is appealing to current and new clients.

There’s another word for style: personality.

You don’t have to be an extrovert, although it helps. Fortunately, most financial planners are extroverts. We love interacting with people and helping them. (If we didn’t, we’d have chosen to be actuaries. Badda boom!)

As I admitted in a previous column, I have a big ego. I’m not reserved. I’m controversial at times, so I draw a lot of media attention. My personality has become an integral part of my company’s brand.

I’m sure you can think of many others in this industry, and in other fields of business, who allow their styles to shine through in ways that draw public attention.

Express your style in speeches, interviews with reporters and in news columns. Be aware that all these actually are performances, where your style (personality) must shine through.  

If you come off well, readers, listeners and viewers will conclude that you are a good advisor, and some might contact you. 

Your “onstage performance” occurs everywhere: at cocktail parties, at shopping malls, in restaurants and alongside soccer fields where your kids play, as well as at genuine business events like chamber of commerce meetings. Remember that people are always evaluating and judging you (just as you do others). How good an advisor you are and how much they like you are largely determined by the way you represent yourself (your style) in all forums.