As more and more financial advisors deliver comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services to clients, it’s becoming harder and harder for any particular advisor to differentiate themselves from all the other advisors offering substantively similar services. The good news is that as long as clients are well served, they tend to remain as clients (maintaining good retention for the advisory firm). The bad news, though, is that firms who are unable to differentiate will struggle to grow further, even if they’re serving their clients well and providing good value… because the prospective client’s perception is that every other advisor does, too.
Which means the key to growth as a financial advisor is not merely to be better, but to be different as well… crafting a unique value proposition that is relevant for the particular target market (or a subset thereof) that the advisor wants to serve. Which, in turn, requires the advisor to identify the specific niche solution they can provide to attract some or all of that target market. Except for most advisors, the struggle then becomes: how do you pick the “right” niche in the first place?
In this Guest Post, financial advisor marketing consultant Stephen Wershing shares his perspective on how advisors can better understand the range of niche choices in order to pick the one that best suits them. Because the reality is that not all types of niches are the same in the first place.
For instance, an “Affinity” niche is about developing relationships based on a common social circle (e.g., business development at the yacht club or the local chamber of commerce), while a Values niche builds relationships based on shared Values (e.g., shared religious beliefs, or a Values system like the Boy Scouts). An Educational niche focuses on prospective clients who are looking to get more educated about a particular problem or issue, while a Psychosocial niche focuses on prospects who need to address more emotional needs (e.g., recent divorcees or widows), and an Experiential niche tries to differentiate by crafting a unique experience that will resonate with a particular type of clientele. And some advisors will differentiate with a Technical niche, where they bring to the table a unique and specialized expertise that is relevant for a particular niche clientele.
Ultimately, advisors can differentiate themselves with any of the 6 different types of niches, and which will be most appealing depends on the advisor’s own interests, style, existing relationships, and natural market. The key point, though, is simply to recognize that differentiation isn’t just about being better, but about being different… and the best way to be different is to focus on a particular type of clientele who have unique needs, and develop a niche solution that is especially relevant (and differentiated) for that particular clientele!