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Networking into new niches as a financial advisor

Specializing can help solidify your value; the next steps are to grow your reputation and client base in the target market

Most financial advisors have a couple of clear goals in mind: Provide exemplary service to their current clients, and to expand that roster of clients, and thereby, their business. One way that they can do both, as mentioned in our previous piece, is by specializing in specific niches or industries.

For advisors, the advantage of specializing, or working within a niche, is that it makes your services more valuable to your client base — you get to know the specific financial hurdles and needs of people working in a given industry, allowing you to improve your service to those clients. Not only that, but people who work within a given industry tend to be tight-knit, which means referrals may be easier to secure, thus expanding your potential pool of clients.

And in an industry that is likely to evolve and become more holistic in coming years, finding a niche may become increasingly important for advisors.

‍How advisors can network into new niches

There are multitudes of niches that advisors can potentially target. That can be both good and bad, however, as it may require some thought as to how broad of a niche you’d like to target. Working with clients in the medical field, for instance, may focus your business into a niche, but even that may be too broad. But choosing to work with surgeons or medical technology entrepreneurs, on the other hand, is a more targeted, precise group.

Once you decide upon your chosen niche, the next question concerns how you get started building a client base within it. Here are a few ways to get started.

‍Start with your personal network

You may already work with several clients that either exist within or overlap with your chosen niche, which gives you an excellent place to start, and that can offer you organic inroads into a  group, allowing for some natural networking opportunities.

Working with the clients in your niche has likely already given you some insight into the specific needs of those clients. Spending even more time with those clients, and studying the intricacies and details of their financial situations, can help you put together a mental profile or model of the clients in your niche. 

But to dig in further and to start expanding your client base within your customer subset, a relatively easy thing to do is to simply ask for referrals — your handful of surgeons, for example, likely know other surgeons who need financial advice. Another way to get the ball rolling is to act as a business matchmaker, and introduce your clients to each other who may have common or complementary needs. A surgeon with an idea for improving the medical field, for example, may be happy to learn that you also work with some medical technology entrepreneurs, and would be grateful for an introduction.

‍Demonstrate your value to clients in your niche

Clients typically want one thing above all else from their advisors: Somebody who can speak their language. That means that, as an advisor, you understand your clients’ specific financial circumstances, how they relate to their goals, and can provide effective guidance and advice.

That ability builds trust among clients in your niche, and demonstrates the unique value you bring to the table. Also, since clients in your niche are likely to have similar financial profiles, the more you learn about them and the unique obstacles that they face, the more valuable you become. 

For instance, the clients in your niche may share similarities in the following areas:

  • Financial situations (earnings levels, tax brackets, etc.)

  • Retirement goals and timelines

  • Career trajectories

  • Lifestyles 

  • Geographic locations

So, if your niche is medical tech entrepreneurs, you’re probably going to become well-versed in things like stock options and employee compensation plans. And as your knowledge in those areas compounds, your value becomes more apparent to those in your niche. Then, with any luck, your clients start passing your name around to their colleagues who are in need of an advisor — you’re making a name for yourself within your niche, and developing a feedback loop of clientele.

Entrench and expand

Once you’ve developed a foothold in your niche (or if you already have one), your goal is to further entrench your position as a financial specialist for that field. That should, again, help further your potential pool of clients and help you create a self-fulfilling referral loop of clients — allowing you to spend less time looking for clients, and more time providing them specialized financial service and advice.

As for how you can further expand into your niche, you can take some pages out of a standard networking and business-building playbook to build relationships.

For starters, you can attend or host networking events for clients (or prospective clients) in your niche once things calm down. This will be a good way to make in-person introductions and meet more potential clients. This may include hosting dinner parties, happy hours, or even more personal outings — maybe a small fishing trip, for example.

It may also be a good idea to engage in a marketing and branding campaign to truly cement yourself and your practice as the go-to advisory for people in your niche. That may mean making some changes to your website, social media accounts, and other marketing materials to make it easier to find for those in your niche — and, of course, to make it clear that you’re bringing a specialized service to the table that a generalist simply can’t match.

Finally, you can develop a simple referral program for your existing clients. Hopefully, your clients already feel like you’re providing them an extraordinary, specialized service, and are happy to refer others to you. But if you give them an incentive or reward for doing so, it may help speed the referral process along.

‍Specializing your business helps you work smarter, not harder

Successfully specializing your advisory should make you more valued among your clients, help you further your organic reach to attract new ones, and, naturally, help you grow your business.  After all, as an advisor, you’re trying to work smarter, not harder, and the more time and energy you can reserve for your clients, rather than marketing yourself, the better. In a field where potential clients have thousands of options, the more targeted and trusted an advisor is or can be among a certain clientele, the higher the potential ceiling is for that advisory.

October 28, 2020