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Using Client Data as a Foundation for Creating Client Personas

Connor Sung March 5, 2024

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Client personas are used by businesses to help them identify their ideal customers for marketing purposes. They are typically created by grouping people based on their dominant traits and then determining which groups are most ideal to work with. Once those ideal customers are identified, a business can build its marketing strategy based on the best way to reach them where they are.

Beyond their use as guides for marketing and communications, client personas can also be used by financial professionals to optimize their business models.

Using Client Personas to Grow and Deepen Relationships

Examining the data that is available for an existing client base can help advisors determine things like gaps in the services they offer and ways to deepen those client relationships through personalization.

Aligning services with client needs: In financial services, it’s not just about the services you offer, but how relevant those services are to your clients’ needs. Client personas can provide deep insights into what your clients are looking for, allowing you to tailor your services to meet those specific needs. Your client personas can guide you as you consider adding services or building a stronger referral network.

Creating a personalized client experience: Personalization is the cornerstone of client satisfaction and research has shown that clients are looking for it as part of their financial planning relationship.1 A personalized client experience can be a differentiating factor that sets you apart from the competition. By using client data to create client personas, you can customize and scale your existing client interactions, communication, and services to provide an experience that’s uniquely tailored to them.

Developing and retaining multi-generational clients: Research by Cerulli on the generational wealth transfer taking place over the next few decades found that only one in five affluent investors uses the same advisor as their parents.2 By using client personas to understand the needs of their clients as well as those clients’ families, advisors can work to move seamlessly from advising one generation to the next to retain valuable business.

Getting Started with Client Personas

Crunching your existing client data to create personas can take time. Start broadly and refine your segments over time to customize to your specific client base.

Looking at clients by life stage is a good place to start. Our research revealed several life stages and their corresponding financial planning needs which are likely to be present in many firms’ books of business.3

Next Gen:

  • Education planning
  • Cash management
  • Tax-efficient investing and financial planning


  • Social Security maximization
  • Retirement income planning
  • Tax-efficient investing and financial planning


  • Efficient wealth transfer strategies
  • Legacy planning
  • Required minimum distribution

Niche financial planning practices can also benefit from this level of client segmentation. Though your clients may all be a part of the same industry—perhaps tech or medical—their interests and needs will still vary according to their life stage.

Next Level Client Personas

After you have general client buckets determined, take your process to the next level by assigning personality and preference traits to further break down these broad categories.

Our consumer research also uncovered several segments of clients based on financial metrics that included comfort and confidence level, engagement and experience level, and challenges to taking action. While these metrics are certainly valuable from a prospecting and marketing perspective, they can also be used to build deeper, more profitable relationships with existing clients.

We call one of these segments Cautiously Pursuing Planning. Here’s what this client sounds like:

“I have a decent income, with some savings, yet it gives me angst to think about my financial situation. I know I need to do more, but I just don’t have the knowledge or confidence to act. I need help. The resources I was using on my own will not get me to where I want to be.”

We found that 31 percent of these clients are working with a financial professional, but only 23 percent are satisfied with the advice they have access to. Top areas of advice this client is looking for include:

  • Preparing for retirement (30%)
  • Improving overall financial knowledge (28%)
  • Developing smart budgeting and spending habits (26%)

It becomes clear that breaking groups of clients into personas in this way provides insights into their needs and tips for ensuring their retention long term. By optimizing for the service needs of this client, an advisor can demonstrate the empathy and understanding they require to build the truly personalized financial plan—and relationship—they are looking for.

Why Build Client Personas?

Client personas can inform many aspects of your business. An extensive examination of your client base provides insights into everything from satisfaction levels to the development of service offerings and the best fee structures for different client types. Understanding what your ideal client experiences when they work with you can inspire innovative improvements to your practice.

You have a lot of data about your clients. The key is using what’s best to help you serve them better. Start broadly and refine your personas as you work with clients and uncover the methods and processes that resonate with them. The better you understand your clients, the more equipped you’ll be to effectively build the types of deep relationships that will support your business in the future.

To learn more about client segmentation and the technology that supports making authentic connections, read our eBook, Bringing Planning to More People.


1. eMoney Consumer Pulse Survey, August 2022, n=1,201

2. “Cerulli Finds Just 19% of Investors Use Their Parents’ Advisor.” Cerulli Associates, 2023. November 14.

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

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.

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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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