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As an independent financial advisor and small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. You may have a great business, but if you're not growing it, you're flatlining. It's not enough to just serve the clients you have. You need to expand your client base. Not only must you be good at managing wealth and financial planning, but you also need to be committed to providing excellent client experience for retention and marketing for growth. That's why I've put together four steps for growing your client base – this month.
Week 1 – Set realistic new client goals
You can’t sustainably add new clients to your business unless you have a clear idea of what that growth looks like and how you will make it happen.
Set a realistic new client goal. Think about how many clients you would like to take on. How many clients can you realistically add with your current infrastructure, staff, and availability? Clarity about your target number of clients is important.
For example, if you can only handle four new clients per quarter and each client requires an average of five hours of work per month, do you have time to handle the uptick? If you want to increase your number of clients by 50%, the added revenue might seem appealing, but you will need to be able to cover the increased workload.
Financial advisors can grow their client base by setting realistic new client goals. When starting out, it can be challenging to determine how much of a client base you can manage. But this becomes more predictable with experience.
If your new client acquisition exceeds your goal, you’ll have to determine how to best support that growth. You might need to hire more staff or move into a larger office space. You may also want to consider adding additional services for your existing clients so that they can refer more people and grow your business even further.
Knowing your goals sets the groundwork for your next move.
Week 2 – Determine your niche
To grow your firm, determine your niche as a financial advisor. (For more information, read my in-depth article on this topic: Why Financial Advisors Should Offer Niche Services.) What kinds of clients are you uniquely qualified to serve? Who are you most passionate about helping? What are the characteristics of your most profitable clients? You can confidently build upon your current client base by identifying these questions and answering them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What kind of clients do I want to work with?
- What kind of work do I enjoy doing with my clients?
- What do my current clients value most in our relationship?
- What type of client would be most profitable for me?
Your niche could be an age group, such as young professionals. It could be a profession or sector, such as physicians, software engineers, or small business owners. You may want to focus on serving a tight niche, such as women divorcees or widows, ultra-high-net-worth families, older parents of young children, or a broader niche, like pre-retirees.
Each of these categories has specific needs, and the more you know about their needs, the better you will be able to serve them. Speaking their language, knowing about the obstacles and opportunities they face, and anticipating their needs to meet them proactively goes a long way in establishing a satisfied client base that’s more than happy to spread the word about you.
Week 3 – Do you need to trim some clients?
When you started out as a financial advisor, you may have felt like you needed to take every client who came your way. But as you grow your business and build a name for yourself, you may find that some clients don’t align with your vision or brand.
Getting rid of less-than-ideal or unprofitable clients is a must. This will allow you to make room for ideal growth in your business. Unfit clients can drain your time and resources and it may be time to refer them to a financial advisor who is better suited for their needs. It’s a great way to free up space so that you can focus on growing your business in the direction that works best for you. If you have clients that you dread seeing on your calendar, it might be time to let them go.
Your time is precious. Sustainable growth requires discernment about the people you choose to work with. This can be a tough call, but it's important.
Be sure that the clients you're working with are the right fit. Some clients just aren't going to help you grow your business and may even be detrimental to your progress. Decide whether they're worth keeping.
Week 4 – How are you working with your clients?
With an effective marketing strategy, you have a number of tools at your disposal to increase your client base. But it’s critical that you first understand why you are engaging with your clients in the way that you are, currently. Are you hosting meetings at your office because it's what your clients want or need, or because it's the way you’ve always done it? Are there things you can do to be more accessible to clients? Or do you need to put better boundaries in place so you’re not taking non-urgent calls on Saturday afternoons?
Your relationship with each client is one of the most important aspects of your business. It has an impact on everything from capacity (how many clients you can handle) to profitability (how much money each client brings in) to overall satisfaction (whether you enjoy your business and life). All this factors into successfully growing your client base.
Creating growth on your own terms
Independent financial advisors need to be intentional about growth, in a way that aligns with their vision and goals for the business. To stay competitive, strive to be the go-to authority for your clients and prospective clients, live up to your brand promise, and surpass expectations. By working smart and prioritizing your client experience and marketing activities, you will stand out from the crowd, position yourself as a leader in the industry, and grow your client base with confidence.
Crystal Lee Butler, MBA is the owner of Crystal Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing agency dedicated to working specifically with independent financial advisors. Since 2011, she’s helped financial advisors cut through the noise to attract ideal clients and grow their businesses using proven strategies that we use with our clients every day. As your “Chief Marketing Officer,” our goal is to help you grow your business and put time back on your calendar so that you can focus on what you do best: serving your clients.
This material was prepared by Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and is intended merely for educational purposes, not as advice.