Pick Your Niche

Focus on the right investors for you

By Jonathan Powell

Key Takeaways:

  • There is no shortage of niches to pursue. You may even find the sheer number of choices staggering.
  • It’s not enough to say you focus on “the affluent.” Be more focused and selective when choosing your niche.
  • Your skills, interests and the community in which you work can be key factors in your decision-making process.
  • Centers of influence and your existing clients can be great resources in your niche identification process.

Specializing in a particular type of client is a recipe for huge success.

Consider that a full 70 percent of top financial advisors—those earning at least $1 million annually—focus on a particular niche, according to CEG Worldwide research. In stark contrast, just 35.1 percent of financial advisors earning less than $150,000 a year have a niche focus.

The message couldn’t be clearer: To emulate the success of today’s elite financial advisors, you need to find the right niche for yourself and your practice. Here’s how.

Go narrow, not broad

Simply saying that you want to work with “the affluent” is far too broad a strategy, because “the affluent” represents an extremely diverse group of investors. Instead, you need to narrow your focus by selecting a specific niche opportunity from the overall affluent marketplace.

The good news: There is no shortage of niches to pursue. You may even find the sheer number of choices staggering.

To develop a short list of ideal niches, think about segments first and then niches within that segment. For example, segments might include C-level executives, widows or self-employed professionals. Niches within those segments might include CFOs of technology companies, widows working with top local estate planning attorneys and business consultants.

It’s crucial that you be as specific as possible to narrow your focus effectively. Think carefully about the specific industry, occupation, company, job and geographic area of niche possibilities. If you go too broad with your choice, you’ll likely find yourself unsuccessfully trying to pursue too many scattered opportunities.

Your skills, interests and local community can be key factors in your decision-making process. Let’s say you greatly enjoy helping clients secure their retirement. If there is a retirement community nearby with large numbers of wealthy retirees, this could be your niche. Or you might have a passion for skiing. If you live in or near a wealthy ski community, you could easily match your love of skiing with the interests of a local affluent skiing community.

Five keys to identifying your niche

Here are five questions to help you identify your ideal niche:

1. Where are the largest pockets of wealth in my area? Go where the money is. Look into the specific communities, industries, companies, and trade or professional organizations in your local area to find where wealth is concentrated. For example, companies in the same field often will congregate in the same area—such as technology companies in Silicon Valley, California or insurance firms in the Hartford, Connecticut, area.

Or if you already have a strategic alliance with a CPA, lawyer or other professional advisor, the clients of that firm may also be a potential market niche for you.

2. What are the potential market niches in those areas? Identify three to five promising niches. The best ones are likely to be niches that have a concentration of wealth in which you could deliver substantial value-added service to people who are willing to pay for it and with whom you enjoy working.

And don’t worry if you’re not an established expert in these niches yet. Expertise and credibility are things you can build up over time (for example, through credibility marketing strategies).

Instead, concentrate on finding the ideal market for you to serve. It should be a market that you enjoy, that you feel passionate about and that consists of people you like being around.

3. What are the specific, significant opportunities a particular niche offers? Time to dip your toes in the water by sizing up each niche and the potential it offers to your business. Here is where interviews with centers of influence within each niche can be hugely valuable. These are the key people in a niche who have their fingers on the pulse of what its members care about, need and want. They also are great “connectors” and can introduce you to other important people who can help you serve a niche.

4. Can I tap any existing clients for help? Your best resource could be sitting across the desk from you. If any of your clients are members of the niches you are evaluating, ask for their insight about the needs of the affluent in that niche. You can even ask them to introduce you to key players they know in the niche.

5. What niche is the ideal option? After you’ve done your due diligence on several niches, you’ll be prepared to select the one that presents the best opportunities for you and is narrow enough for you to pursue effectively. At this point, you’re ready for the next big step: targeting specific affluent clients or groups within your chosen niche.

About the Author

Jonathan Powell is a managing principal at CEG Worldwide, LLC in San Martin, California. Working with many of the nation’s top financial firms, he enjoys helping financial advisors transform their professional and personal lives by implementing CEG Worldwide’s research-backed principles.