5 Practice Drivers Found In A Thriving Financial Advising Practice 

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Oftentimes financial advisors think they need to work harder to double their revenue and grow their practice. But, rather than working harder to find more clients, certain practice drivers provide you with qualitatively different results. 

Practice drivers separate a high performing practice from a low performing practice.  An advisor has a fundamental choice when trying to double or triple their income. They could choose to take a quantitative approach, and potentially bring in two or three times the number of clients they otherwise would, or choose an approach based on the same number of current clients but make sure the approach and clients themselves are qualitatively different.   

In other words, you could set out to help 75 clients a year to equal the same results as 25 clients a year but your approach must have different drivers based on quality (and not quantity).

Here at Consolidated Planning, we want every advisor to experience the high performing practice they have dreamt of. Over our decades-long journey developing advisors, we understand that the planning philosophy in place and resources available can help an advisor build that practice. 

In this article, we’ll define what a thriving practice is, how the five practice drivers are necessary to build a high performing practice, so you can decide if Consolidated Planning is the right firm to grow your practice with. 


What Does A Thriving Financial Advising Practice Look Like? 

As a foundation, this advisor has 25 or more clients a year. Anything less creates a lower probability of success, and a willingness to work with just anyone. The following behaviors are found in this thriving practice without exception: 


#1 An Advisor Is Fully Licensed 

Being a fully licensed financial advisor is straightforward, yet the achievement of this goal is often delayed for newer advisors.  We almost don’t want to include this as a primary practice driver, yet if it’s absent for two long the advisor loses their full capacity to compound investment advisory fees and financial planning fees. 

At Consolidated Planning we require that your FINRA Series 65 or 66 is achieved in your first six months. Many of the advisors new to CP already have one of these two licenses, but not all, and while they are not entirely interchangeable, they are required to build a thriving practice. And because time and success are intimately linked, if you can’t get these necessary licenses to charge advisory fees and financial planning fees (more to come on this), and do so within your first six months, then you’re already behind

That’s because your Assets Under Management (AUM) begins snowballing in year 1 and if that snowball is delayed, the more your full potential is forever lost. 

Your licenses are part of your practice building and are necessary for your learning, marketing, and prospecting. 


#2 An Advisor Always Charges Planning Fees For Advice 

Your biggest value as a financial advisor is the advice you provide to your clients. And you should be compensated for that. Not just when that advice is implemented. 

It’s quickly becoming the industry standard to always charge planning fees for your advice. Advisors who choose to charge planning fees often review a client’s entire planning. ,These clients show up on time, desire an organized inventory of the present, and expect a thoughtful set of recommendations for the future.  

An advisor who charges fees for their planning advice has the following qualities: 


They Charge Fees by Default 

Their normal mode of working with clients is by default, by first charging a planning fee. There may be clients that are not charged a planning fee for a situational reason, but it’s not the norm. But a lot of advisors do the opposite, charging a fee with irregularity, thereby appearing transactional to consumers. 


They Have A Standardized Method 

There are many ways to structure a client fee, you’ll soon find out. However, advisors who want bigger, better, faster, have a method and stick with it. They don’t waiver from their standard and that consistency offers a better experience for both advisors and their clients. 


Their Revenue from Advice Fees is Extra 

Advisors who extract revenue from these fees typically direct them right back into their business. Usually to marketing, an assistant, or another tactic to continually grow their business. 


As a rule, you should always charge new clients a planning fee. While exceptions may exist to not charge a fee, they are just that, the exception, not the rule. Paying for financial planning advice as a separate and distinct service has become an accepted practice among financial advisors. And, in many cases, it has become an expectation of clients.  

If you’re not charging financial planning fees separately from the compensation that you receive from the sale of products or managing assets, you’re at a competitive disadvantage. 

Talk with a team member


#3 An Advisor Has Qualitatively Different Clients  

One of these is not like the other. There is a 3:10 ratio for client selection, meaning out of every 10 clients, 70% are ‘good clients’ and 30% are ‘great clients.’  

These clients in the 30% ratio make at least 750k annually, are married, have kids, or have a business with employees. Qualitatively speaking, these 30% clients have bigger problems to solve and more money to solve them with

Now, this doesn’t mean all of your clients aren’t ‘great’ clients to you. It just means that some more than others will be the bread and butter of your practice’s growth. The ones who allow you to build the thriving practice we’ve mentioned because you’re doing more for them.  

So, how can you build on clients that fit into the ‘30%’ into your future client base? 


Quantity vs. Quality Matters 

If you want to double what’s possible for your practice’s revenue, you could either double your client by count, or increase the revenue for some clients over time. Doubling your client count means more time spent in your client service model, therefore you have to ask yourself if quantity will really help you reach your goals. 

Often, 30% clients make decisions faster, greatly value financial organization, and seek to delegate planning. 


‘30% Clients’ are High Income 

30% of new clients earn at least 750k a year. They may be a professional, executive, or business owner, and make no less than 750k. These kinds of clients allow you to focus on quality, not quantity. 


They Have Responsibilities 

A 750k client that isn’t responsible for others in life probably won’t take planning very seriously. That’s what we find. Now, a 750k client that has a spouse, kids, employees, or all the above to care for, will take your practice further. 


The ‘Other 70%’ 

Don’t get us wrong, the remaining new clients added next year are still ‘good’ clients. There is a ‘smallest check’ limit established, and if a prospective client doesn’t meet this standard, they are not a fit for your future practice. 

Remember, you can’t be all things to everyone


#4 An Advisor Has A Successfully Defined Target Market(s) 

A very clearly defined target market makes all the difference in building a thriving practice. And at Consolidated Planning, it’s necessary to establish this for the trajectory of your practice. Well beyond having an unproven idea for a good target market, these advisors are known in their target markets with active marketing habits to drive inbound leads and continually prospect. 

Increasingly, ideal prospects find them. 

Your target market’s pillars for success are present, and does 3 things for this advisor: 


Brings You Joy 

You thoroughly enjoy working with the clients in this market. You are able to add real value in their lives, and in return they appreciate the planning work you’re doing even more. 


Drives Your Economic Engine 

While some clients may be a joy to work with, they might not drive the economic engine needed to build a qualitatively different practice. It could be a lack of income, assets, or need for insurance that disqualifies a target market. At the end of the day, your target market needs to help build your thriving practice, therefore must drive your economic engine, whatever that looks like for you. 


You Can Be the Best In The World 

This may seem lofty, but over a 5 year period, why can’t you be the very best and most qualified advisor in your given target market? This is what you should strive for. Popular writer Malcolm Gladwell once had the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of guided practice to become masterful. 

It’s not realistic to achieve this on your first day, but it should be possible by your 5th year of practice building. Especially with the right firm to guide you. 


#5 An Advisor Is Clear About Who They Will Not Work With 

Early on in an advisor’s career, they often describe advisors working with “anyone who will fog a mirror.” But that idea doesn’t work if you truly want to build a thriving, robust and sufficient practice over time. 

This advisor understands who is NOT their ideal client, just as they know who their ideal client is. You understand that economic quality of a client means more than quantity of clients and know that letting go of ‘small clients’ is necessary for growth. 


Attention Is Limited More Than Time 

This advisor understands that attention is scarce, and that smaller clients take the same attention as larger clients, if not more. Giving too much attention to smaller clients is inefficient and stunts growth potential. 


There Is A Stated Lowest Check 

This circles back to your 30% clients. This advisor knows the types of clients that don’t bring in revenue necessary for your future how you see it. It’s written down, and you comply to protect your future. You may delegate these ‘small’ clients to other advisors, but since attention is more limited than time, they don’t take your attention. 


You Replace With 30% Clients 

You don’t replace ‘lowest check’ clients with more average clients. You are clear about your 30% clients earning more than 750k, and you qualitatively change the game. 

Just because you are capable of it, doesn’t mean you can or should give your attention to everybody. 


Are You Ready To Become A Financial Advisor At Consolidated Planning? 

So, you want to have a thriving practice? Building a thriving financial advising practice is not for the faint of heart. And adhering to these practice drivers requires an immense understanding of how you’re laying the foundation for your practice. 

Advisors who build a practice based on these practice drivers think differently in two ways: 

  • They still help 125 families or businesses over their first 5 years at CP (versus trying to 2x the quantity of clients), and 
  • Qualitatively they make changes for how they operate, and who they target to help. (They have a minimum standard, and some of their clients hit an ‘ideal standard’) 

Advisors that plateau don’t factor in this quality piece. They try to help all types of clients, don’t regularly charge fees, don’t have an ideal client with a target market. 

To start the conversation around determining your target market and ideal client, talk with a team member about what that process looks like at Consolidated Planning.

Talk with a team member


2024-167878 Exp. 1/2026

Published:  January 26, 2024