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If you could build the perfect practice

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Dec 1, 2009 7:48 pm

I need some advice from you guys.

I am opening a satellite office a ways away from my current business. I have about a decade of experience and have a strong practice as an indie.

My question is:

If you could start from scratch again and build a perfect advisory business, what would it look like? What would you do differently? How would you prospect? How would you structure your fees? What kind of clients would you look for? Account minimums? I think you get what I’m going for here.

Since I have a good business now, I’m not starving at all…so I have the luxury of building this new practice in exactly the way I want. I would just like to hear how you guys would do it if you had the chance.

Thanks for the input.


Dec 1, 2009 7:58 pm


  How is this a new practice if it is a satellite office? Wouldn't it be just an extension of your existing practice?   But for giggles.. I would have client minimums from day one. I would prospect anyway to find my client minimum Fees would be based on my expenses and how many client I am wanting to take on  
Dec 1, 2009 8:02 pm

It is a satellite because I already have a couple clients in the area, but it is not my main location.

As for your answers…

What would be the minimum you would take?

You say you would prospect “anyway to find my client minimum”…what does that mean? Is there a niche you would pursue?

Thanks for the reply.


Dec 1, 2009 8:05 pm


Niches are for failures "We work with clients who have a minimum portfolio size of $250K, do you fit that description"
Dec 1, 2009 8:06 pm

Niches are for failures? I think you’re kidding…I hope.

Dec 1, 2009 8:24 pm

Nope… my niche is qualified clients.

Dec 1, 2009 9:14 pm

I think niches work great if you are going to actually work the niche (and you live in an area with a large enough population of your niche).  It doesn’t mean yopu ignore other prospects, you just focus your prospecting on the niche.  Maybe you are in a miltary town and you become the “go-to” guy for military retirees.  I live in a military town.  Literally thousands of military personnel and retirees.  They are loyal.

Maybe you focus on divorcees and widows.  You network with all the divorce lawyers in your area (there will be ltos of them).  I don't like doctors, but some advisors sepcialize in needs of doctors, and focus their practice on it.  The key with niches is that your prospecting becomes focused and your referrals increase....that is if done properly.   But I agree, minimums would be ideal.  $250K is probably a good number unless you have some specialty that can allow you to go higher (i.e. retirement plans, endowments, pension funds, concentrated stock positions, etc.), or you already have a large book and don't need to add a lot of new clients.   I have read David Mullen's book about building a $1m practice.  Although it is great in theory, most people are not in the position to find 100 clients with an average account of $1m.  I think about 150 clients is the most any solo indy should manage (if you are really "managing" your clients), so just look at it from an average account size.  150 @ 250K average is $38mm AUM.  Depends on how much revenue you want and how quickly and how much you plan to prospect for it.   I would also find ways to automate the practice.  Use model portfolios.  Limit your product types and don't just hold any old asset that comes in.  Spend less time analyzing hundreds of funds & ETF's and researching stocks.  Use model trading if available.  Adjust all portfolios with one click.  Have a standard service process.  Call X times per year, meet X times per year, send X e-mails per year.  Automate it, put it on the calander.  Have a good out-of-office process (for you and clients).
Dec 1, 2009 9:24 pm

B24. Thanks for the great response. I was thinking alone the same lines you seem to be. My current practice is already automated in terms of portfolio management. Contact management is a different story.

Establishing a service standard is a great idea as well.

Thanks again!


Dec 1, 2009 9:33 pm

What’s your portfolio management process?

Dec 1, 2009 9:38 pm

We have four in house portfolios that are traded in blocks. We use the buy and sell signals from a money manager that we mirror. It’s really easy and saves us a lot of money that would otherwise go to the money manager.