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Delivering More Value Through Niche Financial Advice
• Alex Petsis • March 4, 2021
Financial professionals who develop niche expertise can protect their business, earn a pricing premium, and offer tremendous value to their clients. A recent Cerulli report1 states that niche expertise not only delivers more client value, it is essential in differentiating your business, especially as certain aspects of wealth management become commoditized.
Over the past several years, I’ve built out a niche business in special needs planning after realizing how dire the need was in this underserved community. While my niche isn’t necessarily about profit, I can serve my clients in a way I never could before, accounting for their needs holistically and improving their personal and financial outcomes.
What It Takes to Be a Niche Financial Professional
Whatever your niche may be, whether it’s for passion or profit, developing specialized planning services provides an opportunity to deliver a new level of value to clients with unique needs. If you’re looking to build out a niche offering, there are a number of things to consider.
Be a Great General Financial Planner First
It’s important to know that before you can effectively build out a niche offering, you’ll have to be well-versed in financial planning. For any client, you’ll be developing their financial plan first, then overlaying your expertise on top of that financial plan.
For example, in my line of work, I’m often conducting retirement planning for three individuals instead of two. If I didn’t have a full understanding of how to help plan for the successful retirement of two typical individuals, I’d never be able to navigate the complexities and unique considerations of individuals with disabilities.
I’ve had a number of clients referred to me because they’ve been previously provided subpar financial plans. If you’re going to offer advanced, specialized planning services, you’ll need to first be a great planner to build a strong foundation and help people achieve their financial goals.
Develop Your Expertise
A lot of the work of developing a niche offering will happen up front. You’ll have to put in time, likely your own personal time, to develop your expertise in your area. This may be the hardest part, but for that very reason, it’s also hard to replicate what you’ll then be able to offer your clients.
It took me over a year before I started earning a reliable stream of referrals for special needs clients. I had to learn everything I could about special needs planning, seek out professional designations, learn from others in the field, and understand as much as I could about the unique financial and personal needs of these clients.
Your expertise is also important because, as a niche financial professional, your prospective clients will be better informed prior to meeting you. Individuals with specialized requirements are apt to do their own research and often know exactly what they want before your first session takes place. They’ll also know from a mile away if you’re being inauthentic. In my field, that means understanding concepts like “people-first” language and the exceptional challenges these families face. Whatever it may be in your niche, you’ll have to prove your expertise is genuine.
Gain Visibility for Your Niche Services
Your niche offering will be for a select group of individuals, so the way in which you appeal to them will likely be different than for your traditional financial clients. I am a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, I’m a Chartered Special Needs Consultant ®, I teach a special needs education class at my church and my local recreational center. I’m more than happy to provide these services to my community, but they’re also incredibly important for my niche offering. Professional designations not only exhibit your expertise, but they’re key to business development. They enable you to get in front of people who are searching for your specialty services, and build credibility.
Building awareness of your niche offering within your own community, whether that be on a local level or other micro opportunities, is also key to relevant growth. For example, inform current clients of your new service, even if you don’t think it directly applies to them, or advertise in your local newspaper to expand your reach beyond your current circle; outbound tactics as well as referrals are both essential to gain visibility.
Build a Network of Like-minded Professionals
In the same way the referrals you receive for your niche financial services will be different than your traditional clients, the referrals you provide will be different too. Your clients will have unique needs that extend beyond their finances, and in my experience, clients expect you to have trusted referrals for the full breadth of their needs.
The referrals you give are a reflection of your services, so it’s important to follow up with clients on their experience with different professionals. That way you can tailor your referrals over time to help clients get the help they need and have the best experience possible.
You can’t be a niche financial professional alone. It’s important to build a network of professionals so you can truly serve your clients holistically.
Create Scale in Your Niche Services
Whatever your niche, you’ll want your services to be as scalable as possible. This means serving as much of your niche market as possible—tiering your service offerings so they’re accessible to as many income levels as possible is a great way to start. This could come in the form of fee-based planning, retainer models, offering a special rate if clients pay for planning up front, or some combination of all of these.
In my practice, I try to serve as many people as possible. I’m willing to determine who will be a good client down the road and cultivate that relationship to reap the rewards later in my career. If someone truly does not meet the criteria for our planning services, we’ll do our best to offer advice and charge on a per-project basis. We’ll then loop those individuals into our inbound and outbound marketing efforts. That way, they’ll attend our free seminars and get their most fundamental questions answered about special needs planning. This lets us help them while also staying engaged with someone who may be a client one day.
Scalability is essential for the profitability of any niche offering. You’ll want to address this issue right from the start if you intend on offering niche financial advice.
Respecting the Client’s Whole Journey
Offering niche financial advice is all about delivering as much value as possible. Niche financial professionals customize every plan to their client’s unique circumstances. They are mindful that their services address just one portion of their client’s total well-being and are committed to improving the client’s whole journey.
Becoming a niche financial professional may require a lot of work up front, but in the end, you’re able to do more for your clients than you ever could before.
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.
The views and opinions expressed by this blog post guest are solely those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eMoney Advisor, LLC. eMoney Advisor is not responsible for the content, views or opinions presented by our guest, nor may eMoney Advisor be held liable for any actions taken by you based on the content, views or opinions of the guest.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Additional advisory services offered through Anthony Petsis & Associates, Inc. Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., does not offer special needs services.
Registered Advisory Services also offered through Anthony Petsis & Associates an independent Registered Investment Advisor.
Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. and Anthony Petsis & Associates are not affiliated.
1.“U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships 2020: Accentuating the Value of Advice.” Cerulli Associates
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