The importance of niches for financial advisors
Naming your niche and becoming a subject-matter expert can help propel growth in your practice
Do your clients fit a certain profile? Do you have an ideal client in your head, and do you make business decisions with this model client in mind? If you don’t, you may be putting more work on your desk and leaving money sitting on the table.
Simply put, the typical financial advisor doesn’t have a typical client. This is bad news for the typical financial advisor, because generalists could have trouble making their names. Generalists may protest that they have more potential clients, but potential clients doesn’t equal a larger client base or more assets under management. Maybe it is time to consider developing a niche.
As Wershing explains, an affinity niche derives from an interest or a group membership shared with clients; a values niche originates when the financial advisor and the client share principles that they wish to see followed in their investment strategy. An educational niche serves clients looking to learn about sudden changes in their personal life, like inheriting wealth. An experiential niche might offer unusual experiences for clients — they might meet in groups, for example. Psychosocial advisors aid clients going through difficult experiences such as divorce. Finally, technical advisors specialize in clients with particular and unusual circumstances, like tech entrepreneurs.
Niches offer financial advisors a chance to mix their business with their other passions
Talk of “affinity” and other types of niches might seem dry, but niches offer financial advisors a chance to mix their business with their other passions. A financial-planning.com piece offers eight memorable examples of advisors growing their business by following their passions. One advisor serves fly-fishers, a second serves LGBT clients, a third assists Native American investors, and a fourth reports that 90% of their clients are airline pilots. These examples show that pursuing clients with similar interests or profiles doesn’t just spur growth in your business, but also makes work more satisfying by bringing you closer to your communities
As long as there have been financial advisors, there have been specialists. By specializing, financial advisors streamline their operations and have enjoyed the opportunity to take a deep dive into the concerns and needs of their chosen demographic. Then, of course, there’s the matter of referrals: If you become known as the advisor for a group, you’ll win referral and word-of-mouth sign-ups.The more similar clients you work with, the more you become an expert, and the more your community or interest group recognizes you as the expert. If two people in a potential client’s peer group speak highly of your services and of your individual niche knowledge, chances are that third client will come your way. And down the line, she may refer her friends and peers.
The traditional benefits of working in a limited area still apply, but in today’s economy, there are new supplemental benefits. Most importantly, the internet makes life harder for a generalist and simpler for a specialist. If you’re a jack-of-all-trades advisor, you’ll have to fight hard to get your practice to the top of local search listings — distinguishing yourself from colleagues and peers will take much of your time. But if you’re a specialist, the vast trove of data online makes it easier than ever to search for, identify, and contact the clients you can best serve.
Niche-seeking financial advisors should expect that the process of finding and building a niche will be an iterative process. Suppose, for example, that you decide that you will work with local entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurs” is a broad category, and as a time goes on, chances are that you will concentrate more and more attention on some specific subset of “Entrepreneurs.” If you find success with young entrepreneurs in the technology space, chances are that you’ll soon find yourself acquiring new clients in that demographic.
Or suppose that one of your entrepreneurial clients has a major success and sees their company expand rapidly. Perhaps you initially handled assets for the co-founders, but after growth, expansion, and fundraising rounds, there are dozens of people with money in the bank and equity in the company. If a junior executive needs a financial advisor, why would they go to anyone but you?
As the previous example suggests, niche-seeking advisors need to be flexible. The niche you hold at the midpoint or at the end of your career might not exist in your first days as a financial advisor, and it’s possible that over time your focus may change. But if you keep learning and paying attention, the clients will keep coming.
There are many niches available for financial advisors, and as the world changes, even more new opportunities will arise. Whether you distinguish yourself with cutting-edge tech, hyper-specific personalized services, or by knowing all of the ins and outs of a single demographic, some things don’t change. You still need the best tools for your clients, whatever their desires might be. At Vise, we’re committed to giving you what you need to succeed. Whatever details you need to provide, whatever strategies you want to implement, and whatever niches you opt to serve, our platform can help you live up to your potential and your clients’ expectations.
August 12, 2020