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Stick to a budget
<p>Stick to a budget.</p>

The Marketing Budget of An Elite Financial Advisor

Every elite financial advisor at some point has been a low-revenue advisor. However, we’ve witnessed financial advisors, through a focused commitment of energy and resources, attain elite status in a relatively short period of time. We’ve also seen big producers not spend their marketing budgets wisely. This isn’t an advertising budget; it’s “relationship marketing.” It’s more akin to an expense account used to strategically schmooze existing affluent clients, referral  partners and prospects.

The Oechsli Institute’s 2015 elite advisors study found that 53 percent of elite advisors reported revenue of $1 million or more for the last year. That compares to the general population of advisors, 25 percent of whom produced annual revenue of $250,000 to $500,000, while 21 percent produced $250,000 or less.

The majority of elite advisors (57 percent) spend 4 percent or more of their gross production on marketing. So a $1 million advisor would be spending $40,000 on marketing.

For the general population of advisors, the question is how to mirror the relationship marketing activities of an elite financial advisor with only a fraction of the resources.

I would recommend budgeting between 2 to 10 percent of your gross revenue for marketing. Newer financial advisors with lower production numbers should consider investing closer to 10 percent. This way, a $300,000 producer has a marketing budget of $30,000 and can do a lot more than with a $12,000 budget.

A good place to start is creating a plan and a budget around the following:

Upcoming social events in your community – Determine which will be attended by your affluent clients, prospects and/or referral alliance partners. Budget: _________

Charitable events and fundraisers – Determine which charities are important to your clients and referral alliance partners, and support those in the form of volunteering time, donating money, or both. Budget: _________

Intimate, “fun” client events you host – Once you’ve committed a specific client to an event, your next step is to uncover a specific person in their sphere of influence for them to bring as a guest. Budget: ________ 

Social lunch and dinner – Schedule these on a quarter-to-quarter basis. Select your lunch spots and dinner restaurants, and determine the clients and referral alliance partners you plan to invite. Budget: _________

Surprise and delight gifts – Think of anniversary gifts, a birthday bottle of wine, framed photo of the family dog, etc. These might seem unrelated to marketing, but relationship management and relationship marketing are inextricably linked. Budget: _________

Total Budget: _________

Production Marketing Budget (% of Revenue)


$10,000 minimum
$100,000-$350,000 10% plus
$351,000-$650,000 7 - 8%
$651,000 - $1 million 5 - 6%
$1 million - $2 million 4 - 5%
$2 million - $4 million 2 - 4%
$4 million plus 2 - 3%

In addition, partner with a select group of wholesalers. Many wholesalers are willing and able to provide marketing assistance to elite advisors. To start:

Complete your relationship marketing plan and make sure it includes clients, referral alliance partners, and projected prospects connected to each venue.

Project the business you plan to give each partner as it relates directly to the event they’re helping with.

Set aside an afternoon for meetings with potential wholesaler partners, and schedule each wholesaler for a 20-minute time slot. Here you’re selling your marketing plan and asking for assistance while also creating a bit of competition. Inform each wholesaler that you’ll be selecting four to five partners within
48 hours.

Revisit your marketing expenses from last year, and develop your relationship marketing plan and budget accordingly. 

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

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