“If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s the career advice a lot of us received from family members or even teachers and mentors in our youth. Some of us took that to heart and identified, whether early on or through trial and error, the careers that called us.
The path to becoming a financial advisor is varied. For some, it’s simply an interest in finance while others enjoy finance but also want to help others. And yet, some are driven by the earning potential and competitive nature of the career. Regardless of your personal motivation, as with any larger community, finding your place is essential. It involves identifying your strengths, your passions, your goals, and balancing all of them to determine the roles and niche that will bring you success and fulfillment.
One of the best aspects of the financial advising career path is the potential for various roles, and the ability to evolve into new roles as you gain knowledge and experience. Many individuals who start their careers as financial planners go on to find new roles or refine their expertise into a niche market such as retirement or estate planning. It’s one of the primary advantages of the career as a whole, the ability to transform and modify your career path.
As a financial advisor, you may work in any number of roles, including (but never limited to):
In addition to the roles, you may find these roles vary by the financial institution for which you work as well. The kind of financial planning you engage in at a bank is likely different from the planning done at an investment firm. In short, even within the roles themselves there is variation.
There was a time in the financial planning and financial advising world where being what’s referred to as a generalist was a great asset. It meant you could fulfill just about any need your clients had when it came to their finances and their financial futures. However, as seems to be the natural progression of careers and the individuals who seek out expertise, refining your understanding of a specific niche or need is more essential now than ever.
Your clients will come to you with very specific needs and goals, and you want to be able to deliver. More than that, in a very competitive field, you want to differentiate yourself from others and have clients actually seek you out for your experience and expertise.
In addition to identifying the role you’d like to play, one of the biggest assets a financial advisor or planner has is their target market or audience. Identifying this niche is equally important. While it doesn’t lock you in to a specific client base, it can certainly help with prospecting, leads, and referrals. In short, your financial advising career is, without a doubt, as much about building relationships and helping clients as it is about finance, numbers, markets, and more.
So what are these niches? These are groups of people with whom you can easily connect based on a number of factors:
With a clearer understanding of what these niches may be, how does one go about discovering where they fit best or what fits them best? Here are a few tips to get you started:
We often start with this directive because it’s really essential to your career path. Not only will understanding what you want help you outline a path, but cataloging the groups you’re a part of can help you identify niches where you might create easy connections that prove fruitful. This means also being able to identify your strengths and any roles and niches you would truly find engaging and challenging. For example, if technology isn’t your strong suit and learning to leverage it isn’t appealing, you may want to steer clear of the tech savvy crowd.
Your niche may be reflective of experiences rather than an intrinsic characteristic. For example, some people are risk averse by nature, you, on the other hand, may have had a negative experience with a poorly calculated risk. This experience can push you into guiding others through high risk investments or financial decisions with protections in place, or at least more careful calculations. Alternatively, it may push you towards clients who are more risk averse as that may be a space you’re more comfortable in.
Early in your career, you may want to consider working with clients who are also in early career stages, perhaps just beginning to plan and invest. As you gain experience with products, services, accounts, and more you may wish to change your niche. However, if you have considerable experience, you may find that you’re more suited to one niche than another based on the expertise you’ve developed.
It’s easy to get distracted. However, staying focused on your niche will allow you to build not just knowledge and expertise but also a network from which to build your client base. Further, as you explore a niche, the broader categories may reveal more refined categories for you to explore and capitalize on.
Because you have identified a niche that fits, doesn’t mean you should ignore other opportunities. While bouncing from niche to niche isn’t likely a successful strategy, focusing on a niche should not negate you from seizing opportunities when they arise. For example, if you’re working predominantly in a 401K niche, you may, as your career progresses, realize you love retirement planning and that may open up new doors for you with new clients and communities.
Regardless of your career stage, if you’re trying to build your business, finding your niche could be key. Further, from a marketing and sales perspective, understanding your target market and how you can best reach out and connect with them is beneficial, not just for you, but also the client. There are a lot of pitfalls out there when it comes to selecting a financial advisor or financial planner and enabling clients to find someone who understands their unique needs or perspectives can put you both on a path to success.
If you’re interested in learning more about the FA Match team can put you in touch with firms or advisors with skills or needs that complement yours, get in touch with our team today and let us help.