Some Financial Advisers may consider themselves a ‘Jack of all trades’, taking on clients from all walks of life, with varying circumstances, with the goal of providing the best service possible to all. Others opt for the specialist route, hyper-focusing on the needs of a specific demographic of clients, in order to cement a reputation as the go-to person in that category. Of course, there are pro’s and con’s to both, and of course we’ll talk a little bit about them, but let’s also outline how, as an Adviser, you can identify your client niche and increase both inbound business, and your own job satisfaction at the same time – win-win!
In the early years of your career as a Financial Adviser, gaining exposure to a range of client scenarios is a great way to explore what aspects of the job you enjoy the most, but also what resonates with you as a person. This is a good way to solidify a varied knowledge across a variety of areas, but as you gain further experience areas within which you have a keen interest will emerge. This will help to organically identify your niche within your field.
On a recent episode of the Financial Planner Life podcast, we spoke with Stuart Jackson, Founder and IFA at Cheetham Jackson, about how, as a company, they’ve established a niche based around their company values, and the impact they have on the lives of everyday people.
“I saw the impact of being local, being part of a community and having an ability for clients to walk through your door and come in to see you whenever they were feeling nervous or worried, so local presence was very much important.”
Stuart Jackson, Founder – Cheetham Jackson
Sometimes your niche can just fall into place and seem the right direction to aim your business focus in your Financial Planning career. To give a classic example, a second careerist making the transition into Financial Advice may have particular interest in clients with a connection to the industry they have previous experience in, or have in-depth knowledge of, that could give them the competitive edge and ultimately allow them to build deeper rapport with those individuals.
However, often it’s not that cut and dry. If you’re starting to explore your niche, with no prior connections to a certain client group, or any previous experience in another industry that might give you a competitive edge, there are some ways in which you can identify which niche is most suited to you as an Adviser! Here are some exercises to explore what client groups would align well with you:
1. Clarify your goals: Before you can start identifying your ideal client niche and target market, you need to first understand what it is that you are trying to achieve. Ask yourself questions such as: What services do I want to offer? Who do I want to serve? What problems am I looking to solve?
Stuart identified a gap in the market that was overlooked by the majority of Financial Advice firms. He explains: “I think we’ve found a niche in the world of Financial Services in an area that most of the industry doesn’t really care about. We really do care about them, and we want to be part of that local community that looks after local people and gives them a chance to get great advice, really cost effectively and make a real difference to their actual income, which is the reason we do what we do!”
2. Research the industry: Once you have clarified your goals, the next step is to research the financial planning industry in the UK. You should take a look at what other financial planners are doing and how they are positioning themselves in the market. This will give you some insight into what clients may be looking for so that you can tailor your offering accordingly.
3. Identify potential customers: Think about who your potential clients may be. What are their needs and wants? What kind of person would benefit most from your services? Take into consideration factors such as age, gender income level and profession when identifying your target market.
Stuart carries these morals at Cheetham Jackson, stating: “We’ve never been about satisfying shareholders… having 10 offices instead of 3 is cost-ineffective, but what we get from having those local presences is being part of a community and our advisers being part of that community.”
4. Refine the list: Once you have identified a list of potential customers, you can refine it further by taking into account other factors such as geographic location, interests and values.
Once you have identified your ideal client niche and target market, it is time to develop a marketing strategy that will allow you to reach them effectively. Consider how you will present yourself online (website, blog etc.), what channels you will use to advertise (social media, email, etc.) and any other steps that you can take to get your message across.
Remember to monitor progress: Analyse the data to see if your strategy is working or if there are areas that need improvement. This feedback loop will allow you to make adjustments as needed and ensure that you are reaching the right people with the right message. Doing this regularly will also give you insights into changes in the market and help you stay ahead of the competition.
Don’t stop there! Continue to engage with your target audience: This could include creating content such as blog posts and videos that are relevant to their needs, or taking part in conversations on social media. The goal here is to build relationships with potential clients and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Doing this will help you connect with customers and ultimately convert them into paying customers for your financial planning business.
Stuart Jackson and the Cheetham Jackson team have done a fantastic job of both identifying their niche, and positioning themselves in front of the right people through clever distribution of offices, whilst holding their values at the forefront of their business focus.
You can find out more about identifying your niche and Cheetham Jacksons values driven business model on the Financial Planner Life Podcast here: