Majority of Investors Think All Advisors Make the Same Promises: Study by BNY Mellon’s Pershing

October 24, 2018

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Even top advisors struggle with developing a unique value proposition, according to the study, Advisor Value Propositions: How Advisors Showcase Their Value—and What Investors Secretly Think, released today by BNY Mellon’s Pershing (Pershing). Sixty-three percent of investors surveyed as part of the study indicate that all financial advisors make the same promises, making it difficult to distinguish between them.

The study, conducted by The Harris Poll, mined the websites of Barron’s Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors for 2017 and then surveyed over 1,000 high net worth investors to find out what investors think about the value statements of these firms.

“Our study shows that while most advisors recognize the importance of a compelling value proposition, many don’t quite know how to create one,” said Janet Kelly, vice president, Practice Management Consulting at BNY Mellon’s Pershing. “Many advisors fall into the trap of using industry jargon, generic terms or trite clichés in an attempt to distinguish themselves, which doesn’t resonate with clients.”

Some of the most common mistakes advisors make when building their value proposition include not tailoring their messages to their target clients and not emphasizing the importance of trust, accountability and transparency, according to the study.

“A unique value proposition communicates an advisor’s passion for serving clients, the value and the expertise they bring to clients,” said Kelly. “Taking the time to reflect on these critical elements will not only infuse their communications with new language, but can also energize the advisor team.” Firms looking to build a distinguished value proposition should take into consideration the following:

Clearly articulate who you are. Assess your skills and what you offer or specialize in; clarify your aspirations and your vision for the firm.

  • Include “table stakes” themes—tailored solutions, fiduciary duty, trust/integrity/accountability—but also differentiate yourself by highlighting your niche.

Understand your clients and explain how your services benefit them. Answer questions such as:

  • Who is your ideal client and what are their key concerns?
  • What do they want from an advisor and how does what you offer benefit them?

Give them a reason to choose you. Demonstrate your commitment to client success and protecting clients’ money but also show them what makes you special, and how your approach and vision will benefit them.

Build an emotional bond. Speak to your client’s dreams and aspirations. Clearly articulate how your vision aligns with their dreams and how what you do will bring them closer to their life dreams. A compelling value proposition persuades by reason, but motivates by emotion.

For more information, download the Advisor Value Propositions: How Advisors Showcase Their Value—and What Investors Secretly Think.

About BNY Mellon's Pershing

BNY Mellon’s Pershing is a leading provider of clearing and custody services. We are uniquely positioned to help complex financial services firms transform their businesses, drive growth, maximize efficiency, and manage risk and regulation.

Wealth management and institutional firms outsource to us for trading and settlement services, investment solutions, bank and brokerage custody, middle and back office support, data insights, and business consulting.

Pershing brings together high-touch service, an open digital platform and the BNY Mellon enterprise to deliver a differentiated experience for every client.

Pershing LLC (member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC) is a BNY Mellon company. With offices around the world, Pershing has over $2 trillion in assets and millions of investor accounts. Pershing affiliates include Albridge Solutions, Inc. and Lockwood Advisors, Inc., an investment adviser registered in the United States under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Additional information is available on, or follow us on LinkedIn or 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 and wealth management and investment services in 35 countries. As of June 30, 2021, BNY Mellon had $45.0 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $2.3 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.