Focus on Finding Your Ideal Client

Nate Biddick, CFP®, AVP of Consulting
December 18, 2018

For many CPA wealth managers, it can be tempting to want to take on as many clients as possible in order to maximize their firms’ revenue potential. However, not all clients are suitable for your firm, and sometimes it’s necessary to turn potential clients down.

Creating an ideal client profile is a critical first step to any successful marketing or client prospecting effort. When a firm has a clear picture of what the ideal client looks like, it can be intentional about which market to go after. When creating an ideal client profile, it’s important that CPA wealth managers consider some key factors of a successful advisor/client relationship — investment philosophy, attitude, coachability, total profitability (accounting and wealth management aggregated) and willingness of the client to take advice.


The Power of “No”

High-performing firms learn to say “no” to individuals who do not fit the molds of their ideal clients. Those who don’t fall into the firm’s core competency, conform to its financial philosophy or fall within its target client profile are likely not the best fit for the company and should not be acquired as clients. Businesses in the wealth management industry often not only target their clients but also have strict client acceptance philosophies — in addition to profitability — that align with their beliefs and purposes.

Your firm has specific investment philosophies that help guide you in providing assistance to clients in making wise investment decisions by maintaining discipline and intellectual rigor. In order to be successful, it’s necessary to work with clients whose investment philosophies align with those of the firm. Having these similar beliefs will help make for a more aligned relationship between you and your client and help create a lasting collaboration in which you work together to achieve the client’s future goals through established and understood principles that can help mitigate the media noise that bombards investors every day.

Another key factor in determining your ideal client is the client’s attitude. A client with a constant negative attitude is not going to be a viable individual for your firm. Your time and your energy are certainly two valuable commodities that you can’t afford to waste expending on clients who only wear you down. Seek out clients who bring positive and engaging attitudes to your practice — they are the ones who will make your time and energy investment worthwhile.

The clients you work with also need to be coachable and willing to take your advice. There are individuals who will hear what advisors say, ignore their advice, make unwise decisions with their finances and then likely blame their financial advisors for the messes they’ve created themselves. Find the client who is not only willing to listen to you but also take your words to heart and apply them. Your clients must be able to trust your guidance and believe your professional assistance is the right path to take.

There’s a benefit for both the client and the wealth management firm when that firm works with an ideal affluent individual. However, any firm looking for longevity will focus on all types of clients, including those who will eventually be profitable. Many of those individuals in the younger generations have potential to be very valuable clients, and it would be wise not to ignore their financial needs in the present. It’s not simply about serving only the affluent — it’s also about creating the affluent.


A Proper “No”

When turning down a client, don’t just end your conversation by saying “no.” If a client is not the best fit for your wealth management services, it doesn’t mean that your firm can’t provide tax, accounting or other assistance to that individual. In fact, you can help your firm build a strong relationship with the client by continuing to provide tax advice on his or her investments that will make the client feel more at ease and more likely to continue working with the CPA firm.

“After consideration, while we have determined we are not a fit for working together due to [insert reason here: asset minimums, investment philosophy, etc.], we look forward to continuing to serve you through our CPA firm services.” So that their clients are still able to get help they need, some firms may even make referrals to advisors outside the firms that are open to serving lower-asset clients but are still trusted to provide good advice to the CPA firms’ clients.

The truth is that you cannot be all things to all people. Some clients will simply not be the ideal individuals to work with for wealth management services, and it will be necessary to steer them to other resources.

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