More on Building a $250 Million Practice

By Dan Richards

February 25, 2014

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In last week’s column, I outlined the first four steps a rookie advisor needs to take to build a $250 million practice within 10 years:

  1. Find the right client community in which you can stand out.
  2. Clearly define how you’re going to deliver value to that niche.
  3. Identify the clients with whom you work.
  4. Build your profile and credibility to become the safe choice for investors in your niche.

At the foundation of this approach is narrow focus and clear differentiation. This was reinforced by an email in response to the article from a fee-only advisor based in Europe who specializes in Americans living overseas. In eight years, he built a $180 million practice.

Here are five additional steps to hitting $250 in your first 10 years:

Step five: Focus on your pipeline

Next on the list is having a “pipeline mentality,” in which you make it a priority to build a robust pipeline of qualified prospects with whom you’re in regular contact.

I wrote about this last spring in my article, Why Landing Clients is Like Dating.  In that article, I outlined the elements of cultivating “clients-in-waiting” who’ve given you permission to stay in touch and who you’re regularly in front of with a “communication catalyst,” something where there’s a clear and obvious benefit. Importantly, what you share with prospects to stay top-of-mind doesn’t come across as marketing material but rather is something that your clients receive – in a sense you’re giving people a window into what life would be like as a client.

The reason this is so critical is that one of the fundamental changes in the past 20 years is how remarkably long it takes from the initial conversation with many prospects for a decision to move, in part because most investors with whom you’re talking already have an advisor that you have to displace. A heightened skepticism about the extent to which clients will actually be better off with you adds to this timeframe, as does the absence of a sense of urgency among many prospects to make a decision.

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