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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Big bucks

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The high-net-worth (HNW) segment has long been a preferred niche market for insurance agents and most other financial services marketers. At the same time, however, most of these practitioners have had only modest success in penetrating this lucrative marketing. Maybe now is the time for a fresh look

For years, the HNW market was defined as “upscale” professionals who lived in upscale zip codes, drove luxury cars, played golf at their country clubs and traveled extensively. Then, in 1996, Thomas Stanley published a seminal work entitled The Millionaire Next Door that identified a generally unseen and underserved cadre of affluence in this country. These are savvy business people and value-driven consumers with primarily middle-class sensibilities who continue to work hard to establish financial stability. These individuals work not in high-profile professions, but rather in low-profile occupations. They are, for example, marine engineers, construction supervisors and heavy equipment suppliers who are not traditionally targeted as HNW prospects.

Over a decade later, this group of “invisible millionaires” still remains an enigma to most insurance professionals. As a result, there remains a significant opportunity for those who take the time to understand their needs and priorities.

These individuals do not generally respond positively to traditional financial services marketing programs, sales approaches and product pitches. One approach that has proven successful is known as “relationship mining.” This approach focuses on the slower, but ultimately much more rewarding, process of cultivating relationships with the low-profile, non-traditional high-income individual. Successful relationship mining practitioners take an interest in the prospect’s business, accomplishments and family. They build meaningful rapport by finding ways to help the prospects grow their businesses — e.g., referring family, friends and clients to their businesses, or introducing them to local, high quality service providers. Many have also found that networking with high income prospects and clients is an excellent way to gain additional information, build trust and acquire referrals. Isn’t it time that you rethink your approach to this marketplace?

This article is adapted from The Professional’s Guide to Financial Services Marketing: Bite-Sized Insights for Creating Effective Approaches (Wiley Publishing), by Jay Nagdeman. For more information, visit

For more of Jay’s Marketing Tips, click here.


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