There’s nothing wrong with wanting a lifestyle practice, but growth is a primary goal for many financial advisors. It could be that you want to grow to a point where you can have a lifestyle practice, or maybe you enjoy the work of building up your business. Maybe you want to leave a healthy financial advisory practice to your successor.
Whatever the reason, you’re interested in acquiring more, better-fit clients and growing your assets under management (AUM). You've seen the success of other advisors, like:
Those numbers are impressive, but they don't mean much if you don't know where to start. That's why we're going to explore how to grow your financial advisor business.
Most financial advisors have a business as a side effect of their true passion—helping their clients achieve financial wellbeing. But business demands persist nonetheless.
As a result, financial advisors tend to only pay attention to their business when its demands are particularly dire—maybe the client base has or is threatening to shrink, or maybe an important client has reduced the assets placed under your management. Suddenly, you’ve been made aware of the need to bring in more clients, so you put aside your regular duties for a short time in order to dedicate time to a marketing campaign.
Maybe you do a few webinars, attend a few networking events, send out some email blasts. Some new clients come in, and the business seems like it’s in better shape than it was a few months ago. You might think, “Glad that’s over,” and get back to devoting 100% of your attention to client outcomes.
Only, you’ll have to go through it all over again a few months or a year later. Somehow, despite your intense efforts at marketing during this time, your practice never seems to grow.
It’s called yo-yo marketing—you spend a lot of time going back and forth but never seem to actually get anywhere.
How to grow your financial advisory business in a sustainable way? Take your time.
There is no need to engage in rapid-fire bursts of marketing activity. As intensive as those bursts may be, marketing campaigns have momentum. Starting and stopping burns up a lot of energy, while slow and steady effort can build up over time.
Take three or four hours every week to stop being a financial advisor and start being a marketer instead. During that time, your job isn’t to guide your clients’ financial futures but to prospect, find leads, build creative campaigns, and attract the people who could benefit from your business the most.
It isn't always easy to carve out another three or four hours every week, however. When they're not attending to their clients, modern advisors' time is often eaten up by administration, portfolio management, and other back-office tasks.
One way to gain the time needed for business development activities is to outsource some of these more transactional tasks. In fact, an AssetMark study found that advisors who outsourced investment management saved 8.4 hours a week—more than enough to engage in consistent, meaningful growth practices like marketing.
Another option is to hire a professional to do all the marketing work for you. They’ll be an expert in growing businesses and, if you find the right person, an expert in growing financial advisory practices in particular. That way, you won’t have to experience the whiplash from yo-yo marketing ever again.
In your slower, steadier market efforts going forward, you’ll want to keep these three key takeaways in mind.
In marketing, execution is often instantaneous—you’ll send out emails, conduct a webinar, write a blog—but the results are almost always delayed and are often difficult to quantify.
This is why the slow but steady approach is the right one. It’s unlikely that someone is going to get in touch with you right after you wrap up a webinar. But a few months down the line, they might hear something that reminds them of you; maybe their circumstances are different now, and they’re ready to take on your services. Or, maybe they mention having attended your webinar to a colleague, and perhaps they’re the one to seek you out.
However the results are realized, it takes time for your prospects to decide whether you’re the right financial advisor for them or not.
If you don’t like public speaking, then don’t do a webinar just because one of your peers had great results. There are a number of ways to market your practice—pick an approach that you like the most and highlights your specific expertise.
Not only will it make it more likely that you’ll apply the consistency that makes marketing efforts truly successful, but your audience will notice, too. A nervous or disengaged speaker in a webinar won’t be as engaging, impactful, or memorable as an insightful and well-written article.
If you don't know where to start, consider marketing tactics like:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of marketing tactics, and you don't need to stick to just one (nor should you). Rather, it's meant to demonstrate that there are a variety of ways that you can market your business, and that you should focus on the approach that you enjoy the most.
You can even focus your other marketing efforts around that favored approach. If you really enjoy public speaking, for instance, then it could be beneficial to build a webinar series. Then, rather than brainstorming blog topics or content for your email newsletter, you can include key takeaways from your webinar.
While marketing takes time to yield results, you won’t recognize those results if you’re not tracking and measuring your efforts.
To set yourself up for success, establish a business plan prior to launching your marketing efforts. As part of this plan, you’ll define your desired goal (e.g., growing AUM by 15% next year) as well as your key performance indicators (or KPIs; e.g., number of new contacts, new clients onboarded, net promoter score, etc.) Keeping track of your KPIs will alert you to whether you’re on track or whether you need to tweak your approach.
Of course, in order to measure your efforts, you need something to measure. This doesn’t just have to be limited to hard data, such as the number of new contacts in your database or growth in AUM. You could, for instance, solicit feedback from attendees to see whether they found your recent webinar engaging and informative. You could ask your current clients how they found you and whether they consumed any resources on your website before deciding to hire you. With the right mindset, you can find actionable information in all sorts of places.
Learning how to grow your financial advisor business is just the beginning; now you actually have to put that knowledge to work. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
You may find that even though you intend to set aside a few hours every week to make consistent effort, obstacles seem to consistently prevent you from doing that.
Unexpected business needs might arise, life events might throw a wrench in your plan, or you might simply not have the extra energy to dedicate to consistent marketing efforts. If any of that is the case—or if you simply want the advice of someone who’s been there before—don’t hesitate to reach out to AssetMark’s team of experienced consultants for assistance.
AssetMark is a leading provider of extensive wealth management and technology solutions that help financial advisors meet the ever-changing needs of their clients and businesses.
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