When a financial advisor starts their own firm, they face many important choices. One of the key decisions is determining the type of clients they want to serve. Some advisors may choose to take a generalist approach that leaves the door open to working with the broadest possible pool of prospective clients. But with hundreds of thousands of financial advisors competing for the same prospects, it can be challenging to build a generalist advisory business from scratch. Alternatively, many advisors select a client niche to serve and specialize in these individuals’ specific needs, which not only helps clients feel understood but also helps the advisor improve the efficiency of their practice.
In this guest post, Ryan Townsley, founder of Town Capital, an independent RIA, explains how he made the transition from nuclear power plant employee to financial advisor and the process he went through starting out as a generalist who transitioned into a niche where he now works with clients from his former profession.
When Ryan first opened his firm after 15 years in the nuclear power industry, and only a few months working as an advisor, he marketed himself to the broadest range of potential clients possible, using generic marketing and content creation. But after experiencing tepid business growth, he soon realized that he did not stand out in the sea of generalist advisors. So he decided to pivot and serve a niche with which he had significant experience: the nuclear power industry. As a former nuclear engineer, Ryan’s access to specialized knowledge – from understanding how workers in the industry think, to the challenges of their careers, and the financial considerations that come with employment in the industry – helped him decide that this was a niche market he could serve very well.
Ryan’s first step was to redesign his website. He replaced his generic graphics with themes that would be relevant to nuclear power plant employees and made it clear that he would be the go-to planner for those in the industry. His next step was to systematize his planning process to help him work more efficiently as a solo firm owner. And because nuclear power is a process-driven industry, the use of standard workflows was familiar ground for many of his prospective clients. He also built redundancies into his planning process (e.g., using two different risk tolerance assessments), which resonated with his target clients accustomed to built-in redundancies as a key part of operating nuclear power plants. Finally, Ryan created a private Facebook group exclusively for nuclear power workers, where he posts webinars that demonstrate his expertise in addressing the group members’ specific financial needs. And while many members view the free content for their own educational purposes, nearly 20% of the group’s members have become clients!
Ultimately, the key point is that serving a niche has allowed Ryan to build a growing solo practice that allows him to have a solid work-life balance. His experience demonstrates the benefits of using specialized knowledge to create a planning experience that resonates with a firm owner’s target market and creates a more efficient and enjoyable practice!