Ideal Client

In Praise of the Ideal Client

“I’m just not sure if that’s how I want to spend my time.”  That’s how the advisor summed up his feelings on working with a potential new client.  I’ve been coaching Dave for the last year and one of the first things we worked on was defining his ideal client.  As a result, he had a very clear picture of the type of client he was well-suited to serve.

But this couple was different.  From a quantitative standpoint, they sounded great.  They were in the right stage of life and accumulated over $10 million in assets.

However, they weren’t interested in his financial planning or investment advice.  Their assets were distributed across various private funds, real estate investments, bank accounts and other institutions. They created a spreadsheet to try to keep track of everything.  They found that it was a lot of work so they were hoping to hire Dave to do it for them.

Dave called me because he wanted my input.

“If I convince them to invest a fraction of their assets in one of my models, it might be worth it,” he told me.

I reminded him of our definition of an ideal client.  An ideal client is someone who:

  • Needs what you do,
  • Wants what you do,
  • Values what you do, and
  • Is a joy to work with.

In Dave’s case, he had built his practice to serve software engineers in their 40’s and 50’s who needed help setting a plan and staying on track when they were overwhelmed with work and family.  These potential clients looked nothing like that.

Given that there a fixed number of hours in the day, by saying “Yes” to this couple, he’d be saying “No” to other prospective or existing ideal clients.  Worth it?  Absolutely not!

Having a clear definition of your ideal client allows you to make wise decisions about how you spend your time.  Wouldn’t you rather focus on serving clients who need, want and value what you do?

Here are several other reasons why defining your ideal client matters:

  1. You can tailor your advice process to deliver the planning, investing and wealth management services and resources to the needs and wants of your clients.
  2. You can provide the right level of administrative support, communications and educational opportunities for these clients you understand their lifestyle, life experiences and perspectives.
  3. Your messaging is more likely to resonate with them as they recognize you as someone who “gets” them.
  4. You can tell your story with clarity and conviction to others.
  5. Working with ideal clients results in a much more enjoyable experience for you and the team.

I told Dave, “Just because you can serve these clients, doesn’t mean you should.”

With that reminder fresh in his ears, he politely but confidently told them no.  Then he got back to work helping the clients who truly needed, wanted, and valued what he did.  And he had a lot of fun doing it!

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