For years I have had “experts” pounding on me to focus on a niche. The reasoning I constantly hear is “riches through niches.” Nice expression, right. The thought in my industry is by focusing on a specific niche you can better serve those clients, which I totally get. I worked with a guy years ago who knew the retirement plan for Goodyear inside and out and new clients came to him because of his knowledge. The secondary thought is this is the best way to grow because the message is easily communicated to potential clients.
Earlier this year I spent quite a bit of time figuring out who is my ideal client so I could better serve that person. When determining your niche you are told to identify a certain profession, like pediatricians. Or, someone going through a certain life stage, such as recently divorced. You know what I discovered – everything I did to identify my niche was wrong. Let me explain.
If a consultant looked at my clients he would say I should specialize in working with medical professionals as I have quite a few clients who are physicians, dentists and nurses. However, I have numerous clients who are in sales, several engineers and a few CPAs. Some clients are retired, some are early in their careers as high-earners, and others are right there in the middle but most of their assets are tied up in work retirement plans and stock options. Then there are those clients who fall into no specific category except one I can only describe as they are nice people I really enjoy working with. Actually, all my clients are very nice which I realized is part of my ideal client profile. This is also how I realized everything I was doing was wrong. Yes, I was wrong. (Please do not tell my wife I wrote this…twice!)
The common thread for my ideal client falls outside of a certain profession or a specific life stage. Well, maybe you can call it a stage of awareness because the common characteristic for my ideal client is they realized they wanted a fiduciary advisor who provided transparency. Yes, they wanted an advisor who was open and candid, which apparently is harder to find in my industry than you would think.
All my clients are bright and analytical. Many of them reached out to me because I lay it all out there, starting with the flat fee I charge. If you have read my stuff for awhile you realize this transparency extends beyond getting clarity on fees. It includes things ranging from what a good financial plan should look like to why someone should not automatically roll a 401k balance to an IRA (my position is pretty much heresy in the financial services industry).
So, unfortunately, I am a failure within my peer group of financial advisors as you cannot say I work with only one certain type of profession or person going through a life stage. Instead, my ideal client includes:
- People of various ages, life-stages, income levels and professions;
- Who know they need and want sound professional financial advice without the BS or self-serving hype;
- From a fiduciary CFP® who will always put their interests first;
- And will be fully transparent with every decision and recommendation.
As I go forward, I will continue to write about topics that follow this theme of improving transparency when it comes to your financial lives. I also understand it is harder to identify who my ideal client is because it isn’t as obvious as a specific profession or a life stage. However, while I may not know the Goodyear retirement plan inside and out, I will take clients who want a fiduciary advisor offering full transparency every day of the week. So, if you ever decide you want complete clarity just reach out to me. Oh, and it helps to be a nice person. Not that you’re aren’t😉