Often when we think about our business goals for the New Year, we start planning ways to add more clients to our roster. This year, consider paring down your practice and serving only your best clients.


A recent article in ThinkAdvisor1 says:

1. Fit matters, because “problem” clients sap your energy, your employees’ energy and your resources.

2. Clients who are too small will not generate enough revenue to cover their servicing costs.

3. Clients who are too big will not be served adequately with your level of support.

All of these factors can lead to lost revenue. That initial revenue boost you get from a less than ideal client will eventually get washed away by the stress, frustration, and additional resources you pour into serving a client who doesn’t align with your business’s strengths and values.1

One of the financial industry’s leading practice management trainers, Duncan MacPherson*, says “Small is the new big.”2

Many advisors have a difficult time with the idea that a bigger practice is not necessarily better. In fact, more often than not, advisors dream of building a very large client base.

When optimizing a practice, it is often important for an advisor to reduce their number of clients before adding new ones. In most cases, to remain at the same income level you are at now, you may drastically reduce your client base by letting go of less-than-ideal clients who are not significantly contributing to your business or your bottom line.

To increase your income, you don’t necessarily need more clients, just different ones.2

Duncan says that it’s important to examine your existing client base carefully. “Who is your ideal client? Who is no longer suitable as a client? Who takes up too much of your time?” By answering these questions truthfully and taking action to pare down your list “your income won’t really suffer.”

The reality is that some clients are more of a hassle than they should be, yet advisors tend to keep them on as a sort of insurance policy hoping that these clients will acquire more investable assets sometime in the future. The problem is that these less-than ideal clients can cause you to lose sight of the clients who really deserve your attention now.

By offering consistent and personalized service to your top clients, they will feel as though you are looking out for their needs. If, at the same time, you are in the habit of regularly sharing your referral process, those same clients will brag about you to their friends and family. Naturally, this means that you will begin to enjoy a steady stream of introductions.2

Finding the right fit means full disclosure from the outset of your relationship, from the time of that very first consultation–or even before. Industry expert Michael Kitces recommends that you put your fees and account minimums right on your website as part of a fiduciary approach which will ultimately benefit both of you.3

Kitces.com 3 says,

Waiting until the first prospect meeting to discuss advisory fees and minimums, and can actually put us in situations where we make ‘business’ decisions we ultimately regret!

Actually putting fees on your website is not that hard. Just write ‘Our fee schedule is <blank>. The minimum to work with us is <ZZZ> of assets.’ If you are concerned about the possibility that you might take a client with only $300,000 who was in their 40s, then go ahead and just write something like “Our minimums are $500,000 of investable assets. However, our services are also available to active accumulators under the age of 45 with only a $300,000 minimum.” In other words, if you have rules about how you decide which clients to take, or not, simply disclose it, and let prospective clients choose!


*If you are interested in taking your practice to the next level in 2018 by growing smarter/smaller, contact Shurwest VP of Marketing Tandi LeFranc. We offer a number of solutions for business development and practice management including Total Client Engagement, in partnership with Duncan MacPherson.


1 ThinkAdvisor “5 Ways to Get a Better Client Fit.” ThinkAdvisor.com. http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/11/06/5-ways-to-get-a-better-client-fit?page_all=1 (accessed December 18, 2017).
2 LinkedIn “Small Is the New Big.” By Duncan MacPherson. LinkedIn.com. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/small-new-big-duncan-macpherson-1/?likeFromLogin=true (accessed December 18, 2017).
3 Nerd’s Eye View at Kitces.com “Another Reason For Putting Your Advisory Firm Fees And Minimums On Your Website.” Kitces.com https://www.kitces.com/blog/advisory-firm-fees-minimums-website-fiduciary-transparency-price-haggling/ (accessed December 18, 2017).