Brian Graff’s piece on NAPA.net in April, “Retirement Services are not Orange Juice” talked about a recent series of attacks on the retirement services industry following the enactment of fee disclosure legislation. (And, props for the reference to the movie Trading Places by the way.)
The author states: “Perhaps this is the retirement plan industry’s own fault. With the advent of fee disclosure, we have been so busy competing aggressively on fees … we haven’t been focusing enough on the critical value proposition the industry provides. If we don’t do that ourselves, how can we expect our critics to focus on anything but fees?”
He concludes, “If the retirement plan industry continues to innovate and deliver on these promises, the value proposition that is provided will be self-evident. Retirement plan services are not a commodity — and ultimately it’s up to the industry to show this.”
Well “Amen” to that! If you provide a valuable service, you should be able to charge for that value. Of course, the key is making sure that the value delivered is perceived and acknowledged. But, is the retirement services industry the only place where we find this conundrum? Not really.
I see many industries where the majority of sales people are reduced to a puddle of sweat as soon as the customer questions their fees. It seems that nearly the entire supply chain of the printing industry, and to a lesser degree upstream in marketing services, suffers from this affliction. Matt Parker posted last week that “Failing to Educate Customers is a Mistake for Printers.” While that is true, Print’s customers need help educating their customers (and the industry at large) as well. Funny isn’t it, how suppliers and buyer often have the same problems. Maybe they should talk, eh?