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5 Ways to Prepare Your Business to Serve Mass Affluent Clients

Connor Sung October 4, 2023

A couple discusses their finances.

The financial services industry has historically been focused on serving high-net-worth individuals. But in recent years, financial professionals and wealth management firms have been racing to serve the mass affluent client segment. This huge market represents a major opportunity for financial professionals to expand their client base and set their business up for a successful future.

With an annual income of more than $75,000 and between $100,000 and $1 million in investable assets, mass affluent clients have different needs and challenges than the traditional high-net-worth client. Though they lack the assets of the traditional high-net-worth client, mass affluent clients still have complex needs that require sophisticated and personalized financial planning services.

If you are looking to expand into this market, there are key strategies you can implement to adapt your business to best serve them.

1. Develop a Standardized Service Offering That Starts with Budgeting

When you are preparing to serve a new client segment, it is important to develop a standardized service offering that meets their unique needs. This will ensure you serve them effectively and help you create processes that are scalable and repeatable, enhancing your ability to serve more clients.

Our research has found that this group of consumers is looking for customized, actionable advice on budgeting, saving, investing, insurance, and planning to help provide peace of mind regarding finances.However, they can also be resistant to the idea of paying for a financial plan. One way you can hook mass affluent clients in is by having your standard service offering start with creating a budget. This budget should be simple, personalized, actionable, and tied to a single goal.

By starting with a simple budget tied to a single goal, you are providing yourself with the opportunity to move the conversation from budgeting to financial planning. The budget is their first step towards their goal–and their first step towards creating an actionable financial plan with you. It is also a simple way for you to demonstrate your value and begin building trust. This can go a long way in encouraging them to retain your services and commit to a more comprehensive financial plan.

2. Invest in the Right Technology

Leveraging technology is a must if you are looking to serve mass affluent clients efficiently and effectively. Many of these clients are looking for an advisory experience that combines support from a financial professional with digital resources and tools. There are a few key features you should look for when you are selecting a financial planning software solution to utilize with the mass affluent market.

Mass affluent clients are looking to get control of their finances and begin working towards their goals, so they will appreciate a software solution that offers a collaborative client portal. Different aspects of a client portal may be attractive to different demographic segments. For those just starting out on their financial journey, aspects like budgeting and cash flow may be paramount. For those mid-career, after accumulating various assets and accounts, seeing their overall asset allocation or the allocation of a single account may shed light onto their situation. And for those late in their career or early retirement, features like vault, allowing them to securely store important legal documents and records may be of interest.

Account aggregation capabilities will help them easily view their full financial picture and get into the mindset of thinking about their finances as a whole. Account aggregation is also an area that can help add scale to your practice, allowing you to efficiently serve this market.

Finally, because they are often looking for the answers to questions like “How much should I spend?” and “How much should I save?”, they will also benefit from a solution that offers spending and budgeting tools.

3. Consider Your Fee Structure

While charging a fee for assets under management (AUM) has been the most popular planning fee for decades, financial professionals who are looking to serve the mass affluent market should consider other fee structures. Clients in this segment likely will not have enough money for the traditional AUM approach to be profitable.

Instead, consider alternative fee structures that are gaining popularity in the industry today:

  • Subscription fees: In a subscription based financial planning model, services are charged on a regular basis, such as monthly, for ongoing work. A financial planning subscription will include a well-defined set of services, meetings, and other touchpoints. This model will give mass affluent clients the short-term solutions they are looking for while establishing the trust you need for them to commit to working with you long-term.
  • Flat fees: Depending on how you choose to structure it, a flat fee could be for a single financial plan, a single financial planning session, a series of sessions, or even a one-time project. This structure could be appealing for mass affluent clients who are looking to get help creating a budget or saving for a specific goal but aren’t ready to commit to a full financial plan.
  • Tiered fees: This model groups clients into different categories based on their level of planning needs, with fees increasing based on the complexity of planning required. This model allows you to work with a broad range of clients and graduate your clients to higher, more complex tiers as their financial situation matures.

Each of these popular financial planning fee structures has pros and cons to consider for your clients and your business.

4. Build the Right Team

Any time you are looking to expand your business, it is important to ensure that you are staffed appropriately to meet the needs of a growing client base. Can your current team handle the additional workload, or do you need to consider hiring new employees? If you need to add team members, serving mass affluent clients is an ideal venture opportunity for junior advisors. Look it as a chance to build your team and meet clients where they are with advisors who are closer to their demographic. Also, as you develop your service offering, ensure everyone on your team understands the elements of the offering and whose responsibility it will be to cover each item.

5. Lean into Financial Psychology

Consumers in the mass affluent market are looking to gain peace of mind regarding their finances. They want to gain control over their finances, but many of them also feel unsure about their financial situation or their financial future. In addition, there are many people who question whether financial professionals have their best interests in mind and may be wary of trusting your advice.

Breaking down these barriers will require you to understand the feelings and motivations behind their financial behavior and gain their trust. You should also be prepared with financial counseling techniques that encourage open communication and help you build closer relationships with your clients.

Expand Your Planning to Mass Affluent Clients

Adapting your business to serve mass affluent clients is an ideal venture for financial professionals and firms who prioritize longevity and profitability. By using the strategies discussed here, you can start filling your pipeline with mass affluent clients who will support the success of your business for years to come. To get more insight into how you can meet the needs of mass affluent clients, download our eBook Bringing Planning to More People.

Sources:

1. eMoney 88 Million Consumer Research Study, April 2022, n=1,616

DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

Image of Connor Sung
About the Author

As Director of eMoney’s Financial Planning Group, Connor helps clients build more successful practices and deepen client relationships. He leads an exceptional team of financial professionals who help clients transform their technology platform and financial planning processes to increase efficiency, drive growth, and create planning-led user experiences. He oversees eMoney's financial wellness strategy, as well as internal and external financial education programs, aimed at providing financial peace of mind for all. Joining eMoney in 2013, Connor has over 10 years of technology, practice management, and planning experience. He earned a Bachelor's degree from James Madison University, and earned his CFP® designation in 2016. Connor loves spending time with his family and friends in Philadelphia, and enjoys staying active by golfing, snowboarding, playing hockey, and playing with his goldendoodle, Nala.

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