Pershing Study Shows a Gap Exists between What Advisors Say and What Resonates with Investors

August 26, 2014

Successful Advisor Propositions Answer the Question, 'Why Should I Choose You?'

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - An effective value proposition strengthens audience connections and fosters growth, yet many advisors have had little objective guidance in formulating such statements until now, according to a new study released today from Pershing, a BNY Mellon company. What Do Top Advisors Say and What Do Investors Really Think? reveals how an advisor can communicate their value proposition to investors and differentiate themselves from other advisors in the industry.

A unique value proposition answers the critical question "Why should I choose you?", yet according to the survey 60 percent of investors say that many advisors make similar promises, making it difficult to distinguish between them. The strongest value propositions incorporate these four key elements:

  • attributes of the advisor;
  • benefits for the investor;
  • a rational explanation of how the firm’s attributes benefit the client;
  • and language that evokes emotion

"Developing an effective value proposition can have larger implications on an advisor’s overall business than they may realize," says Kim Dellarocca, managing director at Pershing. "In many instances, the value proposition is the first impression potential clients experience and can be the catalyst for a future relationship. It is also an opportunity for advisors to promote business growth by using language that differentiates themselves and targets their ideal client base by articulating attributes and features that appeal to specific demographics. Of course, the real test is delivering on what you promise."

Choosing the right language can make a big difference for investors. Pershing’s study found that investors prefer value statements that incorporate "comprehensive" over "holistic" by a ratio of seven to one. Additionally, two topics that investors care about most – conservative investment approaches and trust – are under-represented in most value propositions.

Based on a systematic look at the value propositions used by top advisors, and investor reactions to these and other value propositions, Pershing has identified key takeaways for advisors to consider when creating a value proposition of their own. They are as follows:

  • Include core promises—but add more. Investors found three themes to be the most compelling among advisors’ value propositions: tailored solutions to meet their needs, advisors working for the investors’ best interest and experienced investment managers. An advisor’s website and marketing materials should include these top promises. Advisors who do not mention these in their value propositions risk being excluded from consideration by potential clients. Successful advisors also need to include something extra to differentiate themselves, such as why investors should choose them over other advisors or unusual client benefits like building a family legacy or understanding personal aspirations.
  • Don’t oversell simplicity. Many websites promise to simplify investing and relieve clients of the burden of managing wealth, but according to Pershing’s study, most investors accept the need to take an active role in managing their own finances.
  • Give conservative approaches more prominence. If advisors’ money management approaches place special emphasis on preservation of capital, it should be a highly visible component of their value proposition.
  • Work hard to establish trust. Trust remains a much bigger concern for investors than the financial industry realizes. Advisors must ensure their value propositions include a message on why investors should trust in them and includes themes like trust, accountability, integrity and fiduciary responsibility.
  • Tailor the message to the ideal client profile. Different market segments place higher emphasis on different attributes. Advisors should know who their ideal client base is and what is most important to them in an advisor, and make sure their value propositions exhibit those points. For instance, investors under 40 place higher importance on advisors who will provide guidance through life’s major events and relieve the burden of managing finances.
  • Watch your language. Investors dislike jargon and favor words with emotional connotations- that means how the value proposition is formulated is just as important as the message it is trying to portray. For example, when judging between near-synonyms, investors prefer words with an emotional punch, such as "unwavering" and "passionate" rather than "committed" and "dedicated".

About BNY Mellon's Pershing

BNY Mellon’s Pershing and its affiliates provide advisors, broker-dealers, family offices, hedge fund and ’40 Act fund managers, registered investment advisor firms and wealth managers with a broad suite of global financial business solutions. Many of the world’s most sophisticated and successful financial services firms rely on Pershing for clearing and custody, investment and retirement solutions, technology, enterprise data management, trading services, prime brokerage and business consulting.

Pershing helps clients improve profitability and drive growth, create capacity and efficiency, attract and retain talent, and manage risk and regulation. With a network of offices worldwide, Pershing provides business-to-business solutions to clients representing approximately 7 million investor accounts globally. Pershing LLC (member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC) is a BNY Mellon company. Additional information is available on, or follow us on Twitter @Pershing.

About BNY Mellon

BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment management and investment services in 35 countries. As of June 30, 2019, BNY Mellon had $35.5 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $1.8 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE: BK). Additional information is available on Follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon or visit our newsroom at for the latest company news.