Today’s Advisory

Hidden Obstacles To Growing Your Practice

And five strategies to help you overcome them

by Tiffany A. Markarian

Ms. Markarian is the Founder and Managing Director of Advantus Marketing, LLC, helping wealth advisors and financial professionals advance their business momentum since 1995. Visit

Financial advisors are often told by leadership or business consultants to “grow your financial practice,” expand your assets under management, or increase activity. The challenge with growth-based goals is they often overlook the obstacles and historical sticking points that can plague an advisor’s business.

Yes, most of us want to increase our revenues or grow our business – but sometimes we are hindered by scale and efficiency issues, time management, or client development challenges. If you want to grow your financial practice, but feel stuck, the following strategies and exercises may help you push past obstacles and identify new opportunities.

When you properly identify the obstacles and hidden sticking points in your business, your frame of reference changes. Your vision and path forward will become much more clear.

1. Rightsizing Your Business

When we talk about how to grow your financial practice, it starts with rightsizing your business. This means restructuring your business to gain greater scale and operational efficiently. The goal is to assess the hours you and your team spend on servicing your different client households (A, B, C client households, as an example). You then want to assess your annual revenues per household and your expenditures to service and acquire these clients.

There are usually two main focal points when it comes to rightsizing a business. First, you may have too many less-profitable clients that are causing a drain on your time or resources. Second, you may be spending too much time servicing your clients due to a lack of consistent workflows, lack of staff, or lack of higher quality prospects to make your efforts more profitable.

The goal is to bring your practice to an optimal size that allows you to maximize your capacity and revenue. If you suspect less-profitable clients are causing drains on your business, it may be necessary to restructure your service model for these clients, adjust your fees, or determine which clients no longer fit the practice you have today.

Use our Client Segmentation Worksheet to identify which households may be causing drains on your business or the households that require more focus in the coming year. Armed with this information, you will see greater opportunities to grow your financial practice.

Sample Client Service Model

Use our sample Client Service Model template to help you define the tiers of advisory service you provide for clients at different stages of their life and net worth. Not every client is an “A+” or “A” client. As such, you need to communicate the service models you provide for prospects and clients so you can properly set expectations, manage your time, and profitability.

2. Optimizing Your CRM and Client Appreciation Efforts

To help grow your financial practice, most advisors utilize Client Relationship Management (CRM) software such as SalesforceSmartOfficeRedtail, etc. to manage cultivation and business activities. The key is recognizing that client management is more than just updating and managing a database of contacts. It’s about fostering an elevated client experience.

Client Cultivation Calendar

You can use our Client Cultivation Calendar to help schedule touchpoints for client appreciation, financial campaigns, and ongoing relationship management. You can send cards or gifts on special days or remind clients of key financial concepts to help secure their financial future.

Clients may not remember the newsletter you sent them last quarter or a letter on tax law changes, but they’ll never forget when you recognize them in unique ways. This allows you to personalize and humanize your marketing efforts.

3. Articulating Your Value

Articulating your value means communicating the value of your services and the work you do in ways that connect with the hearts and emotions of your clients. This will affect everything from your website, social media, your first meeting with a prospect, and your ongoing reviews with clients.

When you properly identify the obstacles and hidden sticking points in your business, your frame of reference changes. Your vision and path forward will become much more clear...

Too many financial advisors fall in love with their process. They talk about their performance, their planning model, pricing, process, platforms, professional background, the people on their team, etc. The problem with this approach is it’s all about you, not about the client. This is not how you articulate value.

Creating Your Value Proposition

Visit our article on creating your value proposition to help you redefine and communicate the outcomes and benefits you create for clients. Clients and prospects care more about outcomes than any sophisticated description of your process.

4. Grow Your Financial Practice with More Effective Referrals  

If you implemented Strategy #1 above – Rightsizing Your Business – you may have noticed a few commonalities in your client base as you assessed each household. Perhaps you noticed you have several architects or a few veterinarians.

If you would like to replicate these clients and make these industries your niche markets, you can conduct market research to identify the key organizations and centers of influence in these industries.

Let’s say you want to get a stronger foothold in working with veterinarians. The answer is not to ask your clients, “Who are other veterinarians I should speak with that would be interested in my services?” That’s not your client’s job.

Instead, tell your clients you have an interest in becoming a stronger resource for the veterinary community. Turn the tables and ask them for advice. Ask them:

  • What would you suggest I do to become a stronger resource for veterinarians?
  • Is there an association or professional network I should join?
  • Is there a podcast or blog veterinarians follow?
  • Are there publications I might contribute an educational article to?
  • Who are the most influential members of the veterinary community here in Pittsburgh?
  • What should I focus on to learn more about the challenges veterinarians face?

Clients are more amenable to introducing you to people in their network as opposed to giving you names of people who need your services. It’s less threatening and far less invasive. This type of approach can allow you to activate a viable niche market. The benefit is you can specialize your services, gain access to qualified prospects, or new avenues to contribute content and expertise for a niche.

5. Time Wasters

Time management is prioritizing tasks in your business and personal life so you can maximize productivity. The goal is to create an environment that is conducive to maximum effectiveness and efficiency. If you feel you are falling prey to time management culprits, it may be time to start blocking and tackling. You don’t want to put your client experience or your goals at risk.

Use our Time Wasters Checklist to help you identify inefficiencies in your business or areas that might need immediate attention.

6. Business and Life Inventory

Moving past obstacles or taking on new growth initiatives requires you to change your frame of reference. It’s about identifying hidden inefficiencies in your business that may be affecting your ability to scale. If you completed the above strategies and worksheets for your business, but are still feeling stuck, there may be larger issues at play. Perhaps, your lack of growth may be due to a lack of overall vision. If you lose sight of your vision or purpose, the path for growth will always be unclear.

Business and Life Inventory Worksheet

If you feel plagued by your circumstances, lack of results, self-doubt, or apathy, utilize our Business and Life Inventory worksheet to help you establish a new vision for your life and your business.

It’s important to remember that the financial industry evolves and changes very quickly. Once you overcome an obstacle and start seeing results, you often hit new plateaus or capacity issues. This may require going back and reassessing your clientele, your markets, or your skill sets.

Growing a financial practice requires you to continually assess staffing needs, incorporating bench strength with junior associates or specialists, or creating new habits. The key is to stay abreast of capacity and efficiency issues so you can avoid complacency and stay focused on delivering an elevated client experience.