Years ago, while working with a client to grow his business, he asked me if I had a list of advisor niches. I didn’t have anything written down and I told him that I would find him one or two lists online.
But I couldn’t find any lists. I was surprised and amazed. Why? All the research shows that the most successful advisors have a niche (and a business plan). I mean, shouldn’t every advisor who is running their own business or book of business have a niche?
As I continued researching, I also was interested in the history of niching. There was none, either!
My previous niche marketing research, knowledge I’d grown up with from being “in” the industry for 20 years, had suggested that niching may have originated in the financial sector (at least in the US). Over time, in a newer town, a business banker would move in. But they didn’t like doing personal banking as there was no or little collateral. So, over time, a personal bank would arise.
Fast forward a few hundred years, there was a time when as an individual, you went to a personal bank for your needs and had a personal banker who knew you and vice versa. If you were a business owner or CEO of a corporation, chances are that you would have gone to a commercial bank. Brokerage firms also came in two flavors: retail houses or institutional firms.
Let’s Take An Overall Look At Nailing a Niche
Niches are very broad segments of who your ideal clients are. It’s about a community of people or businesses you’ll work with … not about their AUM (although some advisors advertise that they work with affluent or high net worth clients). Their AUM or the revenue they generate yearly comes into play — after all, you’re in business, but be open to niches that describe a community of people. Their AUM or generated revenues can easily be part of the step after you choose your niche — creating an ideal client profile.
I recommend choosing a niche based on the 3 P’s System of Niching: passion, population, or products/services. At one time, niches were based on product types. But no longer. I feel it’s a combination of all 3 P’s, not just one of the P’s. Find your niching sweet spot by choosing a niche based on the intersection of the 3 P’s.
Niches can be categorized by general characteristics such as an occupation, a passion/hobby, or by the type of product or service consumed. Best is when all 3 overlap. In this step, “finding or redefining a niche” has little to do with who can afford to pay you what you’re worth — although part 2 of the niching process — finding your ideal clients — IS about making sure that you can find a good number of people who can afford the services you’re planning but more importantly WANT and NEED your services. Niching is about finding a community of people or businesses who you can connect with, enjoy working with, and can share experiences with AND who want and need your services.
Part 2 of niching, “finding your ideal clients”, has you get into the nitty gritty of everything about your niche. I talk about the difference between niching and ideal client in this article about managing your niche.
Population Characteristics Population may be a “person” or a “profession”.
- Corporate Executives, Managers, Supervisors or Employees
- Men/Male who
- Women/Female who
- Business lawyers
- Divorce attorneys
- Divorced Women
- Divorced Men
- Defense Industry
- Dual Income Families
- Single Income Families
- Families taking care of their Parents
- Industry-specific professionals (executives, CEOs, etc.)
- Professional couples with children
- Unmarried women professionals
- Physicians specializing in a particular human or animal practice area
- Older women married to younger men
- Older men married to younger women
- Partners in a second marriage, with or without children
- High net worth individuals or couples
- Children of wealthy clients
- Nonprofit organizations
- The Affluent
- The Super Affluent
- Specific religions
- Specific nationalities
- Specific sexual orientation
- Scout leaders
- Unemployed with 401K plans
- Religious affiliations
- Middle market executives
- Women CEOs
- Registered Investors
- College Alumni
- Members of a club you’re a member of
- Estate attorneys
- Franchise business owners
- Under-40 business owners
- Business owners in a specific industry or in a specific stage of their business (rapid growth, 20 years from retiring, etc.)
- Family-owned businesses or corporations
- Restaurant Owners
- Individuals who own animals
- LGBT individuals and/or couples
- Families with a disabled child or children
- Families with children who have a specific disease
- New Parents
- Parents of school-age children
- Special needs parents
- Empty Nesters
- People who have had serious personal injuries
- Athletic Coaches
- Professional Coaches
- Adventure Enthusiasts
- Advertising Professionals
- Art Directors
- Computer/Technology Specialists
- Engineering Companies
- Environmental Planners
- Fitness or Weight Loss Instructors
- Fund Raisers/Corporate Developers
- Health Care Administrators
- Human Resource Managers
- Interior Designers
- Internet Consultants
- Management Consultants
- Manufacturing Companies
- Marketing Professionals
- Media Executives
- Museum/Cultural Administrators
- Real Estate Executives
- Franchise Owners
- Sales Executives
- Systems Analysts
- Traders (at firms or home traders)
- Wall Street Executives
- Web Designers
- Parents of Adopted Children
- Parents or individuals with ADD/ADHD, Asthma, Allergies, Autism, Cancer, Diabetes, etc.
- Co-Parenting Parents
- Interracial Couples
- Holistic Couples
- Couples dealing with infertility
- Individuals who built their own homes
- Individuals/couples dealing with a loss
- Public Relations Professionals
- Real Estate Professionals
- Social Media Professionals
- Socially Conscience Organizations
- Horse Training
- Dog Owners/Showing/Breeders
- Your Country’s Residents Who Currently Live in a Specific “Other” Country
- Recently Inherited or Sold Business
- In Transition: Job Changer
- Large companies (you’d work with their employees) Universities, Health Care Systems, etc..
Passion/Hobby This is a specific area where you can connect with clients such as you where you have a passion you share with a majority of your clients such as:
- Wine enthusiast
- Football fan with season tickets
- Other sports
- Home beer brewers
- Chess players (or other games)
- Pet owners/breeders (dogs, cats, snakes)
- Chocolate lovers
- Car restoration/collectors
- Coin collectors
- NASCAR fans
- In Recovery Programs
- Bird Owners/Breeders
- Cat Owners/Breeders
- Horse Training
- Dog Owners/Showing/Breeders
- Wealth management
- Socially conscious investments
- Life planning
- Fee-based financial planning
- Business planning
- Business succession planning
- 401K retirement planning
- Tax reduction strategies
- Insurance or specific products: annuities, life insurance, long-term care, etc.
- Mutual Funds
- Self-directed plans
- Education/college planning
- Personal financial planning
- Profit sharing
- Retirement distribution planning
- Estate planning & conservation
- Investment management planning
- Socially responsible investments
What Niches Should You Stay Away From?
You may have noticed a few niches I’ve left off my list. Specifically, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (The Millennials) and Generation Z. Why? They’re been very much in vogue but think about it. Thirty years from now, a firm that niched to work with boomers will have how many clients? And the firm will be worth how much? If you’re currently branded in any of these four groups, create a sub-niche you can use in your branding, too. Or do what one firm who works with XY’ers does. oXYGen Financial (as you see in their name) highlights their niche in their firm’s name. But their brand will also outlast the test of time.
Once you choose your niche and ideal client, you’ll need to clarify your firm’s message, introduction, marketing materials, and onboarding process. Everything you do needs to attract your niche and make the feel comfortable.
I remember walking into the office of an advisor whose niche was military personal and their ideal client was a specific segment of the military. I was meeting an advisor who was a Chamber Member for a networking opportunity. I walked into a green and white office. It felt wrong. Years later, they hired a coach, and their office colors were immediately changed to red, white and blue. That’s an office the military would connect with right away (and the colors I expected to see in their office..
So, as you update your niche, make sure your entire business reflects and attracts whom you’re passionate about working with. And that includes your website, too!
Did I miss your niche? Please post it in the comments section. I’m always learning and adding, too.
© 2012, Updated 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 Elevating Your Business. Are you ready to choose a niche? Not confident about the niche you’re thinking about? Want to know how market to your niche? Get on the waiting list for more information on our twice yearly Book MORE Ideal CLIENTS program and get our Niche Rich Assessment and video here