Go Ahead and Love on Your Small Clients


A bigger business isn’t always a better business, especially if you like working with smaller clients. Do your numbers to make sure they work, and then don’t worry about headlines and what others are doing. It’s OK to be content with working with the type of clients you enjoy most, whatever their AUM.

  • Know your numbers. Realistically evaluate the costs of running the business you want and make sure you can generate the revenue for that to be viable.
  • Simply focus on your objectives and don’t get distracted by headlines about wealthy clients or big producers.
  • Enjoy being content with the business you are building.

Related: Giant Success Starts With Small Steps Like These


Bigger isn’t always better, especially if it isn’t better for you.

When we had our learn-to-swim school, we had baby and toddler classes. And Becky was the most phenomenal baby and toddler teacher we ever had! What made her that way was that’s what she was passionate about; that’s what really drove her. That’s what she was content doing. In fact, she came alive when she was doing it. . .

Now, we had other teachers who wanted to progress up to taking older children, even into teaching some of our competitive swimmers, which was fine, too. Becky wanted to go to different conferences as long as they had baby and toddler components, where she could keep advancing her knowledge. That’s what she took pride in, and that’s what she was phenomenal at doing—so much so that the moms and dads who would bring the toddlers kept telling their friends about Becky. Sure enough, our business grew, and we had a waitlist for toddlers to get into our swim school and, most importantly, to work with Becky. Becky was content with the toddlers, and she was brilliant at it.

I want to encourage you, as advisors, don’t get blown away with headlines about firms that have monstrous AUM numbers and think that’s what you should be aspiring to. I’m certainly not knocking those firms and those advisors with big numbers; that’s fantastic, if that’s what they’re shooting for. But if you’re content managing $300-$500,000 families, that’s just fine.

I spoke with an advisor two weeks ago who mentioned, “My objective is to get to managing $80 million in assets. I’d really like to have a sweet spot of $400,000 clients. That means I’m looking for 200 clients. Does that sound kind of shallow or infantile?” She tended to look down on those numbers, as if she was selling herself short. But when she talked about the families she’s already working with and the issues that those $400,000 families have, she came alive. She was exuberant about servicing these families; that was her sweet spot.

When we did the math, it was really simple: $80 million total assets, averaging $400,000 per family—she’s looking for 200 clients. She wants to work four days a week. If out of that $80 million in revenue, she’s charging 1% on $60 million, that’s $600,000 a year she’s turning over, working just four days a week. She needs to average about two review meetings every day, if she’s providing two of them a year for every client. It’s simple math. When we broke the details down, she could see her plan was totally doable because she’s already at $15 million under management. So, she got excited about doing shooting for that $80-million-dollar total.

Don’t think you have to add loads of zeros on the end of your AUM number to show people how smart you are. Learn to be content with the business you want to build.

So, to do this most effectively,

  1. Know your numbers. Obviously, you do have to be realistic about the costs that you’ll incur when you’re running your business and know the revenue you need to be generating.

  2. Take pride in pursuing your objective—emphasis on your objective. Don’t worry what the headlines say about multimillion-dollar families or advisors. Don’t worry about how the RIAs which are growing hugely and even being bought out by other firms. Just take pride in what you’re doing.

  3. Enjoy contentment. Enjoy being content with the kind of business you’re building. I’m certainly not saying the larger firm owners aren’t content; don’t worry about them, though. What is going to have you feeling most content?

Set the objectives on what you want, a don’t worry if they’re different from everybody else out there. Figure out how you’re going to get those totals as soon as possible and look forward to being content./p>

I look forward to bringing you another Distraction-Proof Advisor Idea next week.