The type of business you run says a lot about who you are as an advisor. This is something we carefully considered when starting our firm.

To develop a business model, ask:

  1. What services do you want to provide?
  2. What experience do you want clients to have?
  3. How will you charge for services?
  4. What type of clients do you want to work with?
  5. What other experts can help you provide your services?

After discussing these questions with our team, which consists of two advisors, an assistant and a marketing associate, we concluded we wanted to stand for three things: Care (to be genuine and compassionate with our clients), Clarity (to provide clear and effective solutions) and Excellence (to provide first-class service). This mantra permeates everything we do and is the foundation we consider for every new client.

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Here’s how we worked through the questions.

1. We wanted to offer a full-service wealth management offering to ensure all of our client’s financial needs were being met, not just their investment needs. That’s why we incorporated other services, such as financial planning, insurance, tax and estate planning, banking and charitable giving. We also provide market presentations and monthly newsletters to educate clients.

2. By providing full service wealth management, clients would have clear and effective financial strategies implemented for them, so they could spend their time on more important things, like family, friends or careers.

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3. When determining how we would charge, we again wanted to be clear and transparent. We also wanted to be fair. We felt a fee-based model was the best option because clients would easily see what they were paying and we could focus on their wealth management needs.

4. We thought business owners and professionals would probably be able to take the most advantage of our services. However, people with investable assets of greater than $500,000 could also benefit. For instance, we recently met a prospect who had more than $1 million in investable assets. He already had an advisor managing his portfolio, and was happy with its performance. However, he also had a large business that required additional financing, and his current advisor wasn’t able to help. He also didn’t have an estate or transition plan, which left him uncertain as to how he would transfer assets to his children. Since we had taken the time to build our business model, it was easy to show him how we could address his unmet needs. This separated us from his existing advisor and he signed with us.

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5. We realized we couldn’t be experts in every area, so we needed to enlist the help of outside professionals. This meant assigning an area of wealth management to each expert. For investment advice, we took on that responsibility. For insurance, we either handle it ourselves since we’re licensed, or if it’s a complex matter we use an insurance specialist outside of our team. For tax and estate planning, we identify the need and work with various accountants and lawyers.

The result of this groundwork is that our business is more focused, our clients better understand what value we provide, and our work is more rewarding. It’s also helped us grow our book because our message is clear, consistent and easily differentiated.

These benefits prove that deciding who you are and want to be is a critical first step that every advisor should take when establishing a business.

Craig White and Grant White are investment advisors at Craig & Grant White Family Wealth Management Group, National Bank Financial.
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