Seeking out new products and finding new avenues you can use to help your clients reach their professional and personal goals lies at the foundation of providing value-added service. Do you hold periodic interviews with your existing clients, as well as your prospects? Have you developed a system for assessing client histories to look for any gaps in coverage or service?

Financial services organizations need to follow in the footsteps of innovative vendors, a necessity I discuss in The 8 Best Practices of High-Performing Salespeople. Offering alternative products and striving to find the best services for your clients is no longer a differentiating factor in and of itself. In fact, 81 percent of financial service professionals (advisors and specialists) already use alternative investments – tax liens, real estate and more – for their clients, according to one survey from Private Wealth and Financial Advisor magazines and Skybridge Capital.

What’s more, 69 percent of those who responded to the survey said they would be increasing their use of this investment category in the next year. This is a response to the sustained market volatility and clients’ desire to invest in assets that are unrelated to the rest of the market, among other forces.

Being receptive to suggestions from your clients and staying up-to-date on current events generally and in your sector will not only make you a better financial services professional, it will prove that you do not settle for the status quo and will continue striving to deliver top-notch service. Show that you are thinking of them in between scheduled meetings by passing along articles that you think they will find relevant.

Providing value-added service is not limited to the products to which you expose clients. How you manage your clients and keep in touch with them will also generate a competitive edge. Take the time to talk to clients and meet them on their terms in order to get a better understanding of the trials and tribulations they handle every day. Your clients will inevitably expect the products that you deliver – but the way to exceed their expectations and set yourself apart from other financial professionals is with the personal service and attention you devote to the relationship.