Products and Solutions are Not Interchangeable Terms

Sue BerginSue Bergin

In an attempt to appear as holistic financial service providers, many advisors have stopped using the word product.   Solutions is the new phrase darling.

Now a retirement solutions cloak drapes annuity sales. Income protection solutions describe disability insurance.  It all sounds remarkably client-centric and needs based oriented, but often the advisor is simply recommending a product that fulfills a niche need.

The term product has gotten a bad rap because theoretically:

  1. Clients live happily ever after with solutions providers but have limited expectations of product salespeople.  They consider a product sales person as one-dimensional professional who meets a need then moves on to the next client.
  2. Products are implicit commission generating vehicles, whereas solutions are holistic and in the client’s best interest.

The products have not changed.  The sales, servicing and payment to the advisor have not changed.  The only difference in many cases is that whenever the client is in earshot, products are referred to as solutions.

The approach might work when writing brochure copy, but it leaves gaping holes in a client’s quest to achieve financial goals.

Product and solution are not interchangeable terms.  A product may solve a problem, or it may be just one component to a solution.  More often than not, a solution involves more than one product and includes other services or features.

Brinker Capital’s income solutions, for example, go well beyond product.  Both our Crystal Diversified Income Strategy and our Destinations Balanced Income Strategy have income distribution features.

We also offer customized income distribution services.  We deliver “paychecks” to clients for a specified period, while managing reserves to cover their long-term capital growth needs.  We also generate reports that include a spending analysis and notify clients if their portfolios are in jeopardy of falling short of stated goals.

You can only offer solutions when you analyze client needs holistically and extend your offering to include products, services and technology that address the problem on all levels.

Our Destinations, Crystal Suite, Personal Portfolios and Core Asset Manager products all solve specific client needs.  On the other hand, our Personal Distribution Strategy, Dollar Value Averaging, and Asset Class Strategies are holistic solutions that combine product, services and technologies that address client problems on all levels.

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