The Client-centred Blog

Turning financial planning clients away – is it good for business?

Who is your ideal client?

It can seem counter-productive to turn financial planning clients away.

Especially if it is not something you are used to doing or may not have considered before.

Towards the end of last year, I was privileged to be invited along to a focus group for a financial planning client of mine.

This particular firm, through dedication, hard work, and a desire to continually improve is one of the fastest-growing financial planning practices I have come across.

A group of the firm’s clients had been invited along to a half-day event where an external marketing agency explored with the group a number of important questions, including:

  • Why they appointed a financial planner in the first place?
  • Why they chose this financial planning firm rather than another one?
  • What they thought of the service and how it could be improved?
  • The client’s attitude to the quality of the communications from the firm?

As one of the clients remarked during the morning, this was a brave thing to do – being willing to open yourself up to hearing what people think of you and your business. Yet as I listened to the feedback from the clients it was overwhelmingly positive and I ended up taking several pages of notes.

Clients want to feel valued

Two of the things I found particularly interesting for anyone who wants to grow a profitable financial planning practice working only with ideal clients are:

1. The initial (and ongoing) conversations with each client were not just about money.

First and foremost, there was a genuine interest in how the clients wanted to live their lives and one of the clients said about the financial planner:

He unlocked answers I had never even thought about before and this was very thought-provoking’.

Several of the clients had decided not to work with other firms or had moved away from another firm because the financial adviser only focused on products, investments and financial matters.

The feedback from the clients was that they wanted to be treated as individuals rather than the next transaction.

But it was also a two-way street because:

2. The practice turned away more people than they took on (only 20% of initial inquiries turned into clients).

If a potential client did not fit the ‘ideal client’ profile, then the financial planner was up-front about it (with kindness and respect, of course).

The paradox of turning business away

If you want to grow your financial planning business, then turning away potential clients may not initially seem to make sense.

In fact, many firms are focused only on the short-term numbers rather than the bigger picture, so they take on pretty much anyone.

This often leads to problems further down the line. For instance, many firms have too many unprofitable clients and spend far too much time on them.

The foundation for working only with ‘ideal clients’ is a state of mind.

It is having the inner confidence (even when it gets uncomfortable) to be true to the vision of what you want to create.

This comes from knowing that you do not need any particular client or piece of business to be ok.

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