Sports athletes strive to perfect their talent to achieve the highest levels, and there are a number of ways to define that pinnacle. Typically, it’s based on a set of difficult criteria that athletes must complete to be considered “perfect.”
For example, in baseball, that perfection is a perfect game — 27 up, 27 down — no walks, no hits, no errors, no hit batters and no fielder’s interference. In bowling, it’s 12 strikes in a row for a score of 300. In golf, it’s a hole in one. In tennis, it’s a love set.
There’s no prescription or required methods for accomplishing perfection in any of these endeavors. You just have to get there. The hole-in-one that landed right in the cup counts just the same as the wayward tee shot that hit two trees, a rock, bounced off the sand trap rake and rolled in.
If we were to extend this model of perfection in sports to the business of advice, here’s how it might manifest itself in a theoretical “perfect” advisory firm that can stand the test of time.
The Right Name
First, we need a brand and a name for this high-promise operation. This seems simple enough, however, it’s probably the most difficult and arduous challenge. The brand and name must convey the experience that we want clients, staff and the community to experience, while differentiating us in a sea of competitors.
We can’t use our last name, since there’s no real enterprise value in it for future owners. Plus, we have to stay away from the thousands of clichéd names using wealth, capital, management, asset, advisory, etc. — we won’t stand out in that crowd.
Also, we don’t want a made-up word, or an ancient Greek or Latin phrase. We would constantly have to explain what it is, what it means and what we do.
But through much research and diligence, we’ll come up with a name that’s compelling, differentiated and communicates how our brand will resonate with our target market and can resonate across its digital and social media channels.
Set a Target Market
Underlying our branding is the selection of our target market, meaning who we want to work with, who most needs our services and who’s willing to pay a premium price for them. While we are dedicated overall to helping people, we do need to have a highly profitable business so that we can fund ongoing operations and growth.
Our target market can be defined by many factors — demographics, wealth levels, occupations, financial planning needs, technical specialties and more — all of which we need to sort through to determine which niche to pursue.
It has to be a niche that helps us stand out and enables us to become specialists and experts in our target market. That way we become memorable, differentiated and referable to our specific target clients — we can’t be all things to all people.
By specializing in a niche, we drastically simplify our operational footprint, staffing levels and corresponding overhead costs. This move also allows us to establish a defined set of services for our client niche, leading to a virtuous cycle of referrals to similar people.
Next, we need an operational technology stack. Of course, there are many fabulous options of unified systems, wealth platforms, turnkey asset management platforms, established RIAs and other outsourced technology providers we can rent the stack from.
Many are cloud-native, affordable and cybersecure. We can immediately white label with our chosen tech partner and go to market with it.
Not having the burden of a technology stack that we have to procure, manage, integrate, update and operate on our own, will free up countless hours of staff and advisor time to drastically increase our capacity, profitability and scale.