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Opinion: What trusted advisers do that others don’t

2022 Trusted Advisers

Posted online

There is a lot of talk across many industries about the need for turning technical experts into trusted advisers. There is a particularly good reason for this, as no other role has more potential impact on the long-term success of an organization.

If you manage to become a trusted adviser to any of your customers, you will have gained a significant advantage. Any account management or sales department staff can sit down and chat with customers. But that’s not the same thing as being able to strategize and collaborate. A trusted adviser is a company or individual that’s given a seat at the customer’s table. Instead of being just another vendor, you’re considered a strategic partner that the customer sees as an asset to reach their goals.

Most vendors play some role in a customer’s success, but trusted advisers get to be involved in more strategic decisions that the customer makes. Rather than being told what the customer wants and where they’re planning to go, a trusted adviser will get to discuss what a customer is doing before the decision has been made, to hear innovative ideas first, and to help the customer make informed and useful decisions.

What does a trusted adviser do? Here are some of the ways they stand out:

  • Build deeper customer relationships.
  • Provide more complete solutions.
  • Accelerate business development.
  • Help clients create competitive advantage.

The term trusted adviser is a catchy phrase, but how do you know one when you see one? You can recognize trusted advisers by these characteristics:

  • Clients ask for them by name.
  • They are sought out for advice that goes beyond their described expertise.
  • They maintain relationships that aren’t just technical.
  • They have such strong personal brands that outsiders seek them out for speaking engagements, authoring articles or special projects.
  • They can have special quirks, wear unique attire or make (occasional) smart comments, and executives still love them!

Trusted advisers are made under pressure. Challenges present the most opportune time for a trusted adviser to stretch their limits and provide fresh guidance to those around them to create more long-term value in someone’s life or business. Trusted advisers stand ready to evolve and create a better future by being fully present in the moment. They listen intently, ask questions, apply judgement, provide assurance and put things in order of priority of importance to map out the achievement of the ultimate goals.

How many people on your team fit that description? Naturally, it makes sense to expand the presence of these people on your team, and they will attract like-minded talent to join them.

In my 35 years in banking, things are certainly not getting easier or slowing down. The value of strong relationships and trust is more important than ever.

It has been a humbling honor to be recognized as a Legacy Trusted Adviser in our community. Congratulations to this year’s honorees for doing more, beyond what others don’t do, for the benefit of the clients you serve.

Shaun A. Burke is the president of Guaranty Bank and the Legacy Adviser of Springfield Business Journal’s 2021 Trusted Advisers awards. He can be reached at


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