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Michael Kitces @FASuccess Podcast: Focusing on a Niche from the Start with Anjali Jariwala

Anjali Jariwala, founder of FIT Advisors, tells Michael Kitces how she was able to grow her niche advisory firm to more than $250,000 a year of recurring financial planning fees in just her first 3 years.

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Welcome, everyone! Welcome to the 79th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Anjali Jariwala. Anjali is the founder of FIT Advisors, a niche advisory firm that works entirely virtually with clients, and focuses on young physicians and small business owners in their 30s providing financial, investment and tax planning advice for an annual retainer fee that starts at $10,000 a year.

What’s unique about Anjali, though, is that by focusing in on a niche from the start, which allowed her to pursue unique marketing channels that other financial advisors didn’t use, she’s been able to grow to more than $250,000 a year of recurring financial planning fees in just her first 3 years. And she did it while also starting a family, having had her first baby barely a year after the launch of the firm.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Anjali positioned her advisory firm squarely in a niche of serving independent physicians and similar small business owners by leveraging her background as a CPA and a CFP certificant, the way she marketed into her niche to attract entirely virtual clients who meet with her solely online, how she iterated her business model rapidly in the first few years from offering short Quickstart plans to charging an upfront planning fee and ongoing monthly retainers until eventually she eliminated all the upfront fees and just raised her ongoing retainer instead, and how she explains and justifies charging a $10,000 retainer fee on clients who have less than $1 million in investable assets, for whom her fee can be substantially higher than the traditional 1 percent.

We also talk about how Anjali structures her upfront and ongoing planning meetings with clients, from an initial “Get Organized” meeting where clients have to aggregate all of their accounts in eMoney Advisor before they meet, to a second meeting that focuses on cash flow planning alongside George Kinder’s famous three questions of life planning, and then shifting to a cash flow and implementation meeting ... and allowing her clients to set the agenda from there, while sometimes waiting as much as a full year before she ever actually even does a “traditional” retirement planning projection for clients.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Anjali talks about the challenges of balancing out her work life and her home life, the way she broke the news to her early clients that she was going to take time off to have a baby within months of starting with them, and how she reinvested into and restructured her staff support to be able to continue serving her clients while taking time off.

So whether you’re interested in learning more about how you can build a successful practice using the retainer model, how to pursue unique marketing channels other financial advisors don’t typically use, or are interested in how you can better balance your home life and work life, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!

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