In the financial advisory industry, there is a push towards advisors identifying their ideal client type. It makes sense, because it is a vital part of branding and helps a firm define itself versus the competition and figure out what types of clients the advisors can best serve.
Unfortunately, the answer can all too easy default to the lowest common denominator: rich people. Hey, who doesn’t want rich people as clients? I don’t think there are many financial advisors — or any business owners, in fact — who would object to having rich people as clients.
Seriously, there are several problems with casting a net that wide:
- Too broad: Rich people are a huge group and by trying to be everything to everybody, it is more likely your firm will end up representing nothing to anyone.
- Too unfocused: Related to the above point, when your marketing and branding efforts lack focus, they are more apt to fail because there is no way to know what types of messages through which specific platforms will most appeal to your audience.
- Too slippery: Even it was a legitimate ideal client type, who exactly are rich people? People with net worth over $1 million? 2 million? What about people who make $1 million a year?
So to my point, the more time you spent up front developing your ideas about an ideal client type, the more productive your marketing, client acquisition and client retention efforts will be on an ongoing basis.
What I suggest to advisors who I work with is that they spend some time not only analyzing their current client base demographically, by AUM, occupation, marital status, etc., but that they also think about the clients that they are most happy to work with. That’s because the clients that your data reveals may not be your ideal client type, they just may be the types of clients that you’ve acquired over the years and who you happen to be working with right now.
This quest isn’t entirely data-driven, though data can certainly play into it. Instead, think about the names on your schedule and which people you are the most happy to see. These may be clients who are a real pleasure to work with or those whose situations and problems you feel bring out your best skills and experience or both.
That’s where to start. It’s a process well worth undertaking because when you figure it out, you can deliberately craft a marketing and client acquisition strategy to find more of these people and, before you know it, you work day may be filled with people who bring out the best in you and who you want to be with, rather than one headache after another.