Niche vs Specialty: What Is Best for Financial Advisors That Want to Predict Referrals?

Quick answer to the question in the title:  whichever one you authentically have.  These can be developed, but, they must be true

Any experienced financial advisor/planner has heard some version of the following:  “You need to have a niche.” The problem is that most people in marketing and/or financial services have never really developed a successful nice...and if they have they don't want to tell you about it.

The same can be said of specialization:  You are or you aren’t specialized

If you say you are a specialist in a particular thing…you better be able to withstand scrutiny from experienced professionals in that field.

How about a few examples and then some practical application/guidance?

One of the best examples I can provide you about niche work is from a client of mine in Harrisonburg, VA: Tyler Conley.  Tyler is a CFP working in a financial planning firm with two other advisors and he has a very strong niche.

Tyler is a lifelong advocate for farming and hunting (they go really well together and if you don’t understand that…you don’t know that niche).  We have been working on a plan to develop that niche for effortless and predictable referrals over the rest of his career.

Tyler is 100% credible and authentic in this niche because he spends significant time on farms and hunting and has done so throughout his life.  When he talks to a hunter or farmer he can easily develop rapport and show deep understanding of what the other person loves and bases their life on.  

Our plan for Tyler is both micro and macro.  He is writing and creating more content about hunting/farming and showing how he sees many synergies between those two passions and his professional purpose as a financial planner. 

In addition, he is also sharing personal stories and advocating for both areas on social media.  If he is consistent with integrating those two major areas of his life consistently…he will become the advisor of choice for farmers and hunters in his area and potential nationally. 

If you don’t have a niche already you can get started on one right now. 

Take a moment to look at your personal interests and see if one of them is dominant.  For example, I love strength training and could develop that as a niche if I wanted to.  I am very passionate about it and love talking ‘shop’ about strength training with anyone I run into.  What do you love to do?  That is a potential niche for you.  I will be going deeper on this over the next few weeks.

Note:  this isn’t a specialization because the folks that hunt and farm are very diverse.  Hunters can come from any profession.

I will use myself as an example of specialization.  I specialize in #financialadvisors and #financialplanners.  This isn’t a niche because I have deep and substantive experience and expertise in this industry.  I have been coaching and consulting for multiple decades and I get referred specifically because of that expertise.  There aren’t many things I haven’t heard about and/or worked with when it comes to successful advisors and it is easy for me to display that knowledge in conversations with them.

Nobody starts out as a specialist and there really aren’t certifications for it. 

You can get some training/education in a particular area, but the specialization gets real after you get experience in it. 

One of my clients (you know who you are) is very passionate about special needs planning (he has a special needs daughter) and is developing expertise in that field through classes and more importantly, tons and tons of research and practical application.  He is well on his way to being an advisor of choice when it comes to special needs planning and I personally consider him to be a credible expert in the field.  

Is there a particular area of your financial practice that you are drawn to and/or really enjoy working with?  This might be your emerging specialization. 

We will cover this process more in the next few weeks.

Why do all this?

For one reason:  the real key to getting predictable referrals (the ones you can count on year after year) is to be able to answer the most important question in #sales “Why should I meet with you?”

This question is even more important to work on when you are aiming to scale your financial services business the best way ever:  referrals.  The conversations about meeting you are usually occurring when you aren’t present as your clients and referral sources interact with other professionals and associates during their day/week.

If you want to get more appointments you need to be able to make sure that your referral sources can provide an answer (for why to meet you) beyond simply talking about what you get paid for.

So much marketing is focused on finding the person that wants to buy right now and that is why it all sucks. You can't ever get to predictable scaling if your marketing is focused on the moment. Instead, grab the power of referrals and start getting different and better appointments in your target market all the time.

If your referral source can only say it is because you sell financial services you are going to lose potential business before you ever realized it was there.

Next week I will dive deeper into starting and/or improving your personal niche. The week after we will examine specialization further. Please ask me any questions about either in the comments below so that I can make sure I tailor the newsletter to your specific needs.

Related: What is Essential for Financial Advisors to Get Better Referrals?