Being a financial advisor is consistently rated as one of the best jobs in America. And although that is good news for the industry, it means there will always be more and more people joining the current lineup of brokers, financial advisors, financial planners, insurance agents and banking and credit union financial professionals. And for clients, there seems to be an “expert” everywhere they look. The key for any advisor today is to find a way to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

One differentiator is the relationship an advisor has with his or her current clients. The financial services business is, ultimately, a relationship business. We know that there is a direct correlation between the acquisition of referrals and the relationships advisors have with their clients. Some clients can’t wait to introduce their friends, family and colleagues to their advisors.

If you’re struggling to identify your niche, your current clients can be of help. Survey them and you may learn, in terms specific to their situations, how you can help them. If survey your clients and their responses are not compelling, however, you may need to figure out a new way of standing out from the competition.

Here are some sample client survey questions to get you started:

1. How would you describe our organization today to someone who might have a need for our services?

2. How would you describe our organization’s performance? Please rate us on a scale of 1-5 (5 being best):

  • We keep you fully informed.___
  • We do things right the first time. ___
  • We are focused on quality personal service. ___
  • We regularly provide information of value. ___
  • We have adequate contact with you. ___
  • Our employees go above and beyond to serve you. ___ Anyone in particular?: __________________________
  • We make it easy for you to contact us.

3. I would be willing to recommend your services to a friend or colleague. Yes / No In fact, here’s a referral right now!: __________________________

Surveys can be done online through Survey Monkey, through a form clients can fill out on your website or via old school USPS.

Your survey answers may give you exactly what you need to start clarifying your niche. At the very least, you’ll give your clients a chance to be heard, and you may learn other valuable information along the way.

Clarifying your niche can make serving — and marketing to — your clients and prospects a whole lot easier

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.