Skip navigation
The Affluent are Different: Financial Advisors - Are You Prepared?

The Affluent are Different: Financial Advisors - Are You Prepared?

The affluent have worked hard to reach their current lifestyle and as a result, regardless of how they view themselves, they are no longer your average American.

New York:  “I love what you’re saying about how to market to the affluent, it’s something that my partner and I are naturally good at but we don’t do it consistently enough.” Robert whispered in a confessional tone before getting to the heart of the matter.   “We’re doing $2 million and we’re staffed OK for what we have, but I know we’re not equipped to handle 20 new affluent clients.”

Yes, the affluent are different.  First off, regardless of their net-worth, most (93%) come from middle class backgrounds and don’t think of themselves as wealthy.  It’s ironic that demographically they’re categorized by a variety of labels they find distasteful; affluent, wealthy, rich, high-net worth and so on.  However, they’ve worked hard to reach their current lifestyle and as a result, regardless of how they view themselves, they are no longer your average American.  Therefore the affluent are not a financial advisor’s typical client.

If Robert is serious about capitalizing his “natural affluent marketing skills,” he and his partner need to take a long hard assessment of their current team infrastructure.  We only had a brief conversation during a lunch break but I got the sense that Robert knew what was needed; add to staff, give up control (delegate), and consistently go after his affluent opportunities.

So, how are the affluent different?


They are more educated: 55% have graduate degrees compared to 12% of the general population.  44% of affluent women versus 7% of the general population have this level of education.  Thus, it is safe for financial advisors to assume that they’re better read, have a broader knowledge base, and are more sophisticated than the average American.  


  • Questions to consider – Do you have access to the necessary knowledge workers who are capable of providing comprehensive wealth management advice to your affluent clients?  CFP, tax, trusts and estates, banking, generational planning, gifting, etc. Does your junior financial advisor possess both the credentials and knowledge to assist in delivering comprehensive wealth management?  Is your support staff up to the task of meeting the service and administrative needs of your affluent clients? Do you have enough staff?      


They are hard working: 72% of affluent men are working anywhere between 40 and 70 hours a week (52% of affluent women are putting in similar hours).  The affluent know they work hard and they expect no less from someone who provides services and products.  They expect the same level of professionalism, commitment, depth and breadth of knowledge that they’ve embellished in their career.  In addition, they insist on receiving this professionalism within the context of a pleasant and personalized experience; Ritz Carlton service delivered with FedEx efficiency.


  • Questions to consider – Are you readily available?  Are your office hours convenient?  Do you work hard?  Do you and your team deliver a personal and consistent comprehensive wealth management experience to every affluent client in the form of; quarterly themed reviews, involving both spouses, bringing in outside experts when necessary, communicating with them in their desired manner and frequency.  Are you and your team in close and consistent communication?


They don’t trust advertising and don’t like salespeople: Believe it or not, in our 2015 Affluent Consumer Research, banks and airlines garnered the top two rankings respectively regarding “some to full” trust in advertising.  However these two top ranked industries scored a 33% and 31% for trust.  Ouch!  Financial advisory and insurance came in at 26%, automotive at 21% and weight loss/fitness scored at a whopping 4%.  Why is this relevant?  Because it illustrates the high levels of skepticism and distrust that’s prevalent with today’s affluent. 

This is why we have four years of research complete with metrics telling us that when a financial advisor develops a social relationship with an affluent client, they’re ranked more favorably in every area.  These advisors also get more introductions and referrals, and their affluent clients use more services.   Every financial advisor and team member is a living, breathing advertisement.  The affluent also dislike salespeople, with their biggest turnoffs being “too pushy and lack of knowledge.”

This leads us to the most significant impact factor in selecting a financial advisor, or making any major purchase decision; word-of-mouth. 


  • Questions to considerWhat are your clients saying about you?  Are your clients talking about you?  What are you doing that goes beyond expectations, “wows” your affluent clients, and stimulates affluent buzz?  How do you consistently quantify, demonstrate, and communicate your value?



Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.