Advisor Growth: It’s Just Not Us Saying It

Jul 19, 2018


How many of you caught an article (or this one) regarding the new Charles Schwab annual RIA benchmarking study? Or did you read the study in its entirety? Personally, I found the information both fascinating and a bit disappointing. Fascinating, because I’m always interested to know what’s working, what top advisors are doing to set themselves apart or how those top firms are growing. Schwab surveyed over 1,200 firms, and in the results, highlights the fastest growing – those that added a median number of 36 new clients vs. 19 with all other firms. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you should, there is great information in the report.

One of the study’s key takeaways is that the fastest growing RIAs are “Getting bigger by getting smaller.” I’ve said the same for years. Those firms are focusing on a niche and even creating personas, or ideal client profiles to create a curated experience.

Not to repeat myself, but…

My disappointment is not in the message of the survey, but in the fact that despite advisor success not being rocket science, some (many?) aren’t doing the work it takes. Advisors can grow, but they have to focus. I thought it might be helpful to go back to some of our old posts to look at suggestions on building that focus:

  • More than three years ago, I wrote about personas as a way to develop an ideal client experiences. I noted that successful firms were spending less on marketing than other firms due to their niches. Our persona (we named him Gary) was a way to ask questions of firms and lead us to building curated experience that is so valuable.
  • Back in 2014, I talked about a value proposition and a client service statement as a way to tailor your message to those ideal clients. Building your message and branding around Gary can set you apart in a crowded field.
  • Last year’s data breach at Equifax was a great example about how to create a micro moment and can provide value along your client’s planning journey. A general message can get lost but a specific message, tailored to your ideal client builds loyalty (and referrals.)

The point of this post isn’t I told you so, but to remind you that there are tools, resources and ideas to help firms grow. This year, it isn’t just me telling you about the best way to do this, it’s also the fastest growing Schwab advisors. So, listen to them instead of me, but listen.

John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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