How to be a superadvisor: Commentary

Standing out from the crowd

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How can financial advisors differentiate themselves from the ever-increasing competition, both human and online/automated? Certified financial planner Tim Maurer, a member of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisors Council, weighs in with 10 tips for standing out in the financial-planning crowd. Maurer is director of personal finance for Buckingham and the BAM Alliance.

Commentary by Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com
Posted 28 April 2015

1. Be yourself

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"There's a reason why this tip is listed first: It's the most powerful and simplest to apply, as long as you feel comfortable doing so. It might mean bucking industry norms—on everything from your choice of socks to a favorite form of recreation—but authenticity builds trust and attracts the type of clients you likely want to work with."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

2. Be vulnerable

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"And nothing exudes authenticity like straightforward vulnerability. No, of course I'm not recommending that you tell your clients every stupid thing you've ever done. But credibility doesn't require perceived perfection. Indeed, your clients just might trust you more by knowing how you responded to a mistake than by erroneously believing you've never made any."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

3. Develop a niche market

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"This isn't new advice, but I do have a new spin on it. Instead of developing a niche simply because you believe it will be profitable, build a name for yourself in a profession or among a demographic you are passionate about. Writing, speaking, blogging—social media, traditional media and networking can all work to get you there. But only if you're good at it."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

4. Specialize

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"Developing a niche market requires outreach, but not everyone is built for continual networking, writing or speaking. If this is the case for you, specializing in a particular area of interest—especially a challenging one, like estate planning, alternative minimum tax or relocation—could make you the go-to guru on that subject."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

5. Generalize

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"Although the niche market and specialist routes are still effective, they're also not secrets. Is it possible, then, that you could actually make a specialty of generalizing? I believe so, especially if it's in an arena where the specialists have left the masses behind. That's how robo-advisors, for example, are making meaningful inroads in the vast middle market."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

6. Get educated

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"Just saying you're an expert in South American basket weaving doesn't make you one. And while you can't really speed up the process of gaining experience, you can pile on education. Doing so from the most reputable outlets within your niche or specialty can compound the benefit."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

7. Educate

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"There is no better way to learn than to teach. It forces you to stay sharp and abreast of changes in your area of concentration. It's also great "practice" for writers, speakers and media sources."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

8. Gain experience

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"You can't shortcut or replace experience, so once you find your path, try to stay on it—or at least on its tributaries—as you build a body of work."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

9. Certify your competency with credentials

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"Compound the education and experience you've gained within your niche or specialty through an outward expression of your expertise. Consider going for at least a few letters behind your name, ones that resonate with your market. Err on the side of quality over quantity."

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com

10. Find a problem—and fix it

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This is written by a CNBC contributor.

"Embrace the entrepreneurial mantra and make the world a better place. The behemoth that is the financial services industry used to be about sales and commissions, but it's moving toward advice and fees, thanks, initially, to the urging of a handful of zealots. The industry proper ignored the everyman until upstarts like Charles Schwab and Vanguard founder Jack Bogle brought investing to the masses. What other problems do you see that you could help fix?"

By Tim Maurer, special to CNBC.com