Everyone thinks of doctors or business owners, but some niches tend to fly under the radar for financial advisors, and are worth exploring. These might not be the first niches that spring to mind for your practice, but there are many reasons why they make sense.
- Federal employees and retirees. The federal government employs nearly three million employees all over the country – at the Post Office, in Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Energy, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Department of Defense, the IRS, and the Bureau of Land Management. The state of Arizona, for instance, has 106,000 federal employees; as many as 50,000 of them are retirees. More than 60 percent of the federal workforce have college degrees, including many professional and doctorate degrees. Federal agencies employ doctors, attorneys, and scientists. A recent study showed that federal employees earn 78% more than the private sector, with an average annual wage of $84,153 in 2014 ($119,934 when you factor in benefits). Employees with graduate degrees earn well into the six-figure range. “There are many opportunities for advisors as the federal employee gets closer to retirement. They need help knowing what to do with retirement income, and also how to handle life insurance, health insurance, as well as long-term care,” says George Ray of Federal Benefits Advocates.
Once you learn about their benefit plans, and retirement packages, you’re in a prime position to serve this large niche.
- State employees and state retirees. State governments employ more than five million individuals, almost half of which work in education at public colleges and universities. The average college professor can earn between $80,000-120,000 depending on their field. But professors in law and medical fields tend to earn much higher incomes. And the president and other administrators of a university can also earn into the high six figures. The State of California employs more than 200,000 state workers. State governments also employ doctors, attorneys, dentists, pension board members, prison officials and administrators, offering generous salaries and benefits packages. Research your state employee unions and see salary information by searching “state salary database” and “state employee union” plus your state. Here is an example of a California state salary database. Each state has its own benefits package. By meeting with state employees or university faculty, and hosting workshops you can become a trusted voice within this well-compensated niche.
- Local employees. Local governments employ teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and municipal workers—more than 14 million people as of 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Like state workers, municipal workers have unions, and share benefits packages. And also, like state employees, newspapers and public watchdog groups keep databases of salary information. This can be a tool for you to zoom in on certain individuals or departments in your local area. Here is an example of a municipal payroll database in NJ. When you get to know municipal employees, you can become their advocate, and a trusted resource for the issues they face in retirement. And, as some financial advisors have discovered, getting a critical mass of a certain sector – teachers, for instance, can insure referrals and a steady income stream.
- Hi-tech employees. Do you consider yourself an advisor on the cutting edge of everything? One of the fastest-growing employment sectors are high-tech employees. Nearly four million individuals work in technology-related fields according to a recent Pew survey, including as web developers, information security analysts, programmers, software developers, support specialists, database administrators or computer operators. Salaries for these professions routinely exceed $100,000 and reach $200,000 in some locations. Certain locations across the country have attracted clusters of these high-tech workers. Forbes and other publications have identified the following high-tech hubs.
- Automation Alley – Metropolitan Detroit or Oakland County, Michigan
- Cummings Research Park – Huntsville, Alabama
- Denver Tech Center – Denver, Colorado
- Dulles Technology Corridor – Northern Virginia near Washington Dulles Airport
- Eastside – Puget Sound
- Golden Corridor – Near Chicago‘s O’Hare International Airport and Northwest Suburbs
- Illinois Technology and Research Corridor – DuPage County, Illinois
- Optics Valley – Tucson, Arizona
- Research Triangle – North Carolina
- Route 128 – Massachusetts
- Silicon Alley – New York City
- Silicon Hills – Austin, Texas and its suburbs
- Silicon Forest – Portland, Oregon
- Silicon Prairie – Metropolitan Dallas (primarily the northern region and its suburbs)
- Silicon Slopes – Salt Lake City, Utah including Utah County (Provo, Utah) and Summit County (Park City, Utah) and surrounding areas
- Silicon Valley
- Tech Coast – broadly Southern California, Silicon Beach refers to emergent Santa Monica–LAX tech cluster.
- Tech Valley – The Capital District area of Albany, NY
- Telecom Corridor (an area in the Silicon Prairie) – Richardson, suburb of Dallas, Texas
- Texas Medical Center – Houston, Texas
These niches are worth exploring. As always, do your homework, build credibility, and have fun! Niches work best when you have skin in the game, either through your personal interest in a sector or a family background.