Want to work exclusively with the affluent? You can do it–these principles will help.
Ten years ago, after 15 years in financial services, most of that time spent in the wholesale side of the business, I decided to return to the retail side and work only with affluent clients. “To work with the affluent exclusively and help them disinherit the IRS in favor of their family and charity would be a dream come true for me,” I thought. “What could be better–ideal clients and work that made a difference in my community!”
My problem was profoundly simple: great idea but no affluent clients. In fact, I didn’t have any clients. “How do you magnetically attract only ideal clients who want to work with you?” I mused.
I needed help, so I did research on how to become appealing to the affluent–how I could stand out in their minds. If the affluent perceived me as a salesman with commission-breath pushing financial products, I was dead in the water. There is no mint powerful enough to neutralize commission-breath.
Fundamentally, I needed to transform who I worked with, what they thought about me and how I met them. If they could see who I had labored to become–a consultant, a specialist, an expert–I would look different and be more attractive to them.
However, there were three big obstacles–and they are even bigger today. Too much information! Too many choices! Too little difference!
Too much information! In the 20-year period from 1971 to 1991, the average number of marketing messages per day grew sixfold from 560 to 3,000. In the last 13 years, there has been an estimated tenfold increase to 30,000 per day–information overload.
The daily edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average 17th century individual would encounter over an entire lifetime–information overload. Printed information is doubling every five years–information overload. Two billion websites–information overload at high speed.
Too many choices! Just compare the overwhelming plethora of simple choices like soft drinks, potato chips and running shoes. Now, consider the ballooning range of choices in the more complex areas of our lives, health and finances. Are you overwhelmed with the choices? So are the affluent. What do you do when you are overloaded and overwhelmed? Usually nothing.
Too little difference! According to the Spectrem Group, the number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more in 2004 was around 7.5 million. The Capgemini/Merrill Lynch 2005 World Wealth Report estimates there are only 2.7 million individuals in North America with investable assets exceeding $1 million.
The affluent in this country range somewhere between 2.7 and 7.5 million strong, and there are about half a million advisors. Half a million advisors chasing a very limited number of affluent!
That means one advisor for every 15 affluent prospects on the high side; one advisor for every five prospects on the low side. Either way, in the mind of the affluent (which is where the battle is waged and won) there are few discernable differences among advisors.