Home > Practice Development > 3 Pillars of Financial Advisor Success

Building your advisory practice takes time and consistent work. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming as you attempt to make progress—knowing there are so many little things you must do every day and every week to succeed.

Over the years I’ve interviewed dozens of successful financial planners and investment advisors. And I’ve identified three foundational pillars of success that can help you break down your business goals into more manageable pieces.

When you take one or two positive steps forward each day—or each week, in each of these areas, you’ll see the rewards over time.

Here are the three essentials for your practice—with ideas for advancing each area:

  1. Master your craft.

As a professional investment advisor, you need to continually upgrade your skills, increasing the value you bring to your clients. That means at a bare minimum staying on top of investment trends, tax law changes and potential threats to your clients’ portfolios and financial well-being. Whether you outsource to money managers or invest client assets with a proprietary method, you will need to spend a set amount of time each week studying macro economic trends—and investment trends—that will affect your decisions for clients.

But your craft also involves communication and marketing. You can’t help prospects financially until you reach out to them and win their business. So you should be studying better ways to approach clients and prospects about your services—in a way that showcases your financial knowledge.

Small daily/weekly/quarterly actions could include:

  • Subscribing to and studying specialized financial publications.
  • Following financial thought leaders on social media.
  • Reading books on communication and sales strategies.
  • Blogging or tweeting about your outlook on the macro economy or investments.
  • Completing the next step(s) in earning an advanced certificate or designation.
  • Making changes to your own model portfolio based on where you think the economy is headed.
  • Attending conferences and speaking to other financial professionals about economic and investment trends.
  • Teaching an investment class or offering a client workshop to share your thinking.
  • Create a network of peers or clients who can become a sounding board for your business.
  1. Tailor your services.

As you’re mastering your craft, you’re going to find specific areas where you can add the most value to your clients—whether that’s in offering mutual fund porfolios, managed money or custom porfolios. The same is true with offering insurance, tax-advantaged investing or charitable or educational funding options. You should identify the kind of services you’ll offer—based on your own interests, skills, and the unique needs of your clientele. Not to mention the abilities of your team!

Maybe you love taking a “total” look at a clients’ financial picture—and want to delve into their business  financing options, or the liability side of the ledger. There are no shortage of services you can offer to your clients. But you should get focused so youknow exactly what you do and whom you do it for. That will make your life a lot easier.

One advisor I spoke to in Texas years ago said that as his financial net worth grew, he wanted to find clients who were facing those same kinds of complex issues—with taxes, estate planning—etc. He decided to offer wealth management, to pursue a designation—and to work only with clients above with seven-figure wealth. So while he expanded his service offering, he narrowed the number and type of clients he was serving.

You can choose from three main areas of financial advice:

  • Investment management consulting and/or portfolio management
  • Comprehensive financial planning
  • Wealth management

Stay focused and learn all you can along your chosen path taking small steps to make progress.

  1. Attract and market to a niche.

As you’re mastering your craft and tailoring your client service offering, you will naturally begin to recognize the clients for whom you’re best suited—and vice versa. Having a niche is one of the fastest ways to realize success in the financial advisory business. Maybe you have a natural affinity for teachers or doctors or entrepreneurs—or corporate executives.

Lean heavily on niche marketing to advance your business development goals. Sometimes all it takes is one good client in a niche—to lead to many others. Try to have clear activity goals each year, each quarter and weekly, for marketing to your niche.

Here are some ideas:

  • Revise the tagline for your LinkedIn page and article footers to reflect your niche.
  • Reach out to 10 LinkedIn contacts and let them know you’re a financial advisor for your niche.
  • Tweak your website homepage to tout the benefits you offer clients in your niche.
  • Host a roundtable discussion with members of your niche to better understand their challenges.
  • Write an article about a challenge facing your niche and submit it to a niche publication.
  • Talk to the clients in your niche who bring you 80% of your business to see if you can expand what you do for them—and to tap additional needs or assets needing to be directed.

Obviously, this is just a basic formula. But by mastering your craft, tailoring your services to what you do best for a certain group and finding smart ways to attract and market to your niche—you’re on your way to success.