Investor’s Business Daily: ‘Know Your Niche: Advisors Share Secrets Of Serving Target Markets’ by Morey Stettner
Many advisors target a niche of clients. Whether it’s dentists, divorcees or another distinct population of investors, planners often specialize in serving a segmented group with common characteristics and needs.
Over time, advisors gain an insider’s knowledge of their niche. They learn how a particular profession generates income, analyzes data and plans for retirement. Their deep grounding in a particular industry gives them an advantage over advisors who lack the same familiarity with that market.
For advisors just starting to pursue a niche, stereotypes can mar their ability to make a convincing pitch. If they only have a superficial understanding of the potential clients they seek, their marketing efforts can fall flat.
Say you want to attract hospital-based health care providers, such as physicians and nurses, as clients. If you rely in popular culture to understand their attitude and concerns, you’re in trouble.
James Pollard, founder of The Advisor Coach in Claymont, Del., knows an advisor with lots of medical professionals as clients. Nurses have told the advisor that when they watch television shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” they roll their eyes at all the inaccuracies.
“When you know the real deal, it’s different,” Pollard said. “So if you’re going to market to a niche like nurses, find messages that resonate with them. It’s all about relating to your niche and becoming an insider, knowing a secret that’s privy only to people in the know.”
Law And Order
A benefit of getting up close and personal with a specific type of client is you begin to appreciate the subtleties of their professional world. As you learn more, you develop an authentic sense of what financial challenges they face in their business.
If you’re targeting attorneys, for instance, tracing the trajectory of their career enhances your value as an advisor. Facing student debt in their early years, they may confront other obstacles decades later when promoted to become a partner. If you work with several lawyers at the same firm, you may even get acquainted with the details of its profit-sharing plan.
For Eric Moore, an advisor in Merrick, N.Y., working with law enforcement officers for the last 14 years has helped him gain insight into how they think.
“Generally, they are not trustworthy of others as they’ve seen so much bad (behavior),” Moore said. “So you have to give before you get” to prove yourself, such as attending fraternal organization events and donating your services.
While it’s always wise to explain your compensation model to prospective clients, transparency matters even more with law enforcement officers. Earn their trust by educating them on different fee structures — and giving them the space to respond on their timetable.
“Commit to not expecting an answer right away,” Moore said. “You don’t want to come across as pushy.”
When communicating with law enforcement officers, Moore suggests that you address them by their rank — such as sergeant, chief or inspector — if you know it.
“It’s a title they’ve earned,” he said. “There has to be a formality at first. They see value in that.”
Track Income Swings
Depending on your niche, you may need to highlight certain skills. Serving recently widowed or divorced individuals requires empathetic communication skills. Working with young tech entrepreneurs or social media personalities means speaking their language, operating a virtual office and providing a cutting-edge client portal and the latest fintech tools that appeal to them.
Mark Kasimirsky, a Pittsburgh-based planner, specializes in advising executives in the oil and gas industry. To serve this niche, a wealth manager must master the intricacies of budgeting based on ever-changing variables.
“Their income tends to be very cyclical,” Kasimirsky said. “A lot of their compensation is tied to incentives, RSUs (restricted stock units) and company stock. So you need to have a firm grasp of their income inflows and outflows.”
Because their compensation can fluctuate significantly within short periods of time, advisors need to “know when to exit out of certain positions, like company stock, to diversify the client’s holdings,” Kasimirsky added. “You need to review their income streams quarterly, at least.”
People in different professions may exhibit varying degrees of interest in their investments and financial planning. Advisors sometimes struggle to get the attention of exceptionally busy clients, while others pepper their planner with questions and investment ideas regularly.
David Higgins, a Houston-based advisor, works with many physicians. He sees himself as an educator as much as a financial planner.
“In terms of education, I put (doctors) in the middle between business owners who just want the big picture and engineers who want to know all the details,” Higgins said.