How to Grow Your RIA Firm Organically Using Proven Practices

What is the best way to grow your startup RIA firm?

Before we answer that question, it’s important to first understand that there are two primary methods to scale your registered investment advisor (RIA) firm. These two growth channels are defined as organic and inorganic processes.

Business growth from the organic process is homegrown.

It involves growing your client base through referrals, ramping up your marketing, expanding your service offering, etc. Organic growth isn’t easy to achieve. It requires a commitment to building your brand and testing marketing strategies and tactics to find what works for your firm.

Inorganic growth, on the other hand, involves growing your business through mergers and acquisitions. Many of the thriving RIA firms you read about achieved growth through inorganic means.

For many startup firms however, inorganic growth is not a reality for various reasons. So, for the sake of this guide we’re going to focus on various ways you can grow your RIA firm organically.

Here goes…

Five Drivers to Growing Your RIA Firm Organically

  1. Establish a Strong Brand

As the foundation to an RIA firm’s success, investment advisors should take the time to develop a strong brand.

Unfortunately, many financial advisory businesses, RIAs included, don’t focus too much on branding and design. Take a look at a couple of RIA websites, and you’ll notice that many are poorly designed or just outright fail to connect with their target audience.

Many financial advisory websites can be described as bland, boring, and dated. The downside to failing to establish a strong brand is losing that competitive advantage top brands have.

If you’re starting an RIA firm or trying to turn around an established one, you should spend more time planning and creating a strong brand identity. Your brand identity isn’t just about the looks; it should reflect your values as a company.

Brand identity is a powerful communication and marketing tool. When potential clients see your branding elements, they should associate them with your company and have an idea of what it stands for. Brand identity encompasses many elements, including:

  • Company name
  • Design language
  • Company logo
  • Color theme
  • Choice of words and tone of messaging

Before you build your firm’s brand, it’s important first to know your business landscape (including competitors) and identify your ideal clients. By taking the time to identify the who, what, and why your firm exists, it will be much easier to attract the right clients.

  1. Ramp Up Paid Advertising Efforts

Paid advertising is an effective way to increase traffic—and in turn—conversions quickly.

Did you know that 27% of website traffic comes from paid ads?

If you want your RIA firm’s website to appear on the first pages of Google search results, you’ll want to leverage paid advertising.

Plus, paid advertising garners fast results. With Google Ads, for instance, your ads will display immediately after they are approved, and you’ll start seeing results in less than 24 hours. In comparison, it can take you months to see results with SEO.

Another benefit you get with paid advertising is advanced targeting options.

For example, with Facebook paid ads, you can target key individuals based on their age, income, interest, and geographical location. You can even adjust your ad settings to target people who have interacted with your business before or even reach new people whose interests are similar to those of your loyal customers.

But don’t rely on digital marketing alone. You’ll need both inbound and outbound marketing tactics for your advisory business to grow. If you’re looking to grow in a specific market, you should consider print, radio, and television advertising.

  1. Develop a Proactive Media Relations Strategy

In today’s competitive business landscape, media relations can deliver benefits unmatched by any other marketing activity.

Media relations can be a powerful factor in raising brand awareness, increasing credibility and authenticity, and controlling crises. Most importantly, developing a PR strategy for your RIA firm can help you organize compelling brand stories that resonate with your audience.

So, if you have been downplaying the role media relations play in fostering business growth, you would be surprised at how much your firm can benefit by just taking the time to introduce yourself to financial writers and journalists.

If you’ve been looking to develop your firm’s media relations strategy but don’t know where to start, here’s a sample email to pitch to journalists and financial writers.

Hello {First Name}

As a regular reader of your financial market and investing articles, I wanted to introduce myself and offer my organization, {RIA Firm Name}, as a resource to you for future stories relating to retail investing.

Our wealth management firm has been working closely {Insert Your Target Audience Here: i.e., Gen Zers, Doctors, Divorcees} and our team possesses deep knowledge and insight on various topics including {Insert Expertise on topics: i.e., Goal-Based Investing, Estate Planning, Crypto, College Funding, etc.}

If you ever have the need for industry insight or commentary on a future story pertaining to personal investing, I would appreciate it if you kept us in mind.

I appreciate your time and consideration.
{Full Name}
{RIA Firm Name}
{Contact Information}

As part of your RIA firm’s media relations strategy, you should maintain a database of journalists and industry writers.

  1. Expand Your Service Offering

There are generally two types of financial advisors in the financial advisory business: a generalist and a specialist.

Become a specialist, not a generalist.

If you’re in the financial services field, specialization is what will make you shine.

The days of being a jack-of-all-trades aren’t over, but generalization severely limits your ability to practice and grow. Large companies can do just about anything, but they have the teams, budget, and branding abilities that dwarf small to medium-sized firms.

You can’t afford to be a generalist in today’s competitive financial advisory landscape. Investors want someone who’s a specialist in the area of investing they are interested in. Here are the steps to becoming a specialist and expanding your service offering.

(i) Consider What You Feel Passionate About

Passion is what drives motivation and specialization.

If risk management is your passion, go that route. But don’t also try to be a financial planner. And don’t try to make everyone your client.

Once you’ve discovered your passion, identify good collaboration partners to enhance your skills and grow your advisory business. And when you become a specialist in one field, people will trust you and see you as a leader.

(ii) Identify a Niche

Next, you’ll want to identify a niche and go with it.

Like any good investment portfolio, you need to diversify your ideal client profile. Once you’ve chosen a niche, go deep and let your network know about it. When you take the time to identify niche audiences, you will be in a better position to expand your service offering.

  1. Reduce Client Turnover

You probably have heard that it’s up to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new client than to keep an existing one.

In line with that, it’s advisable to nurture your existing clients, so they don’t leave for the competition. Investment advisors can drive client retention by.

  1. Exceeding Client Expectations
  2. Honor what you promised to do and go the extra mile to impress the client.

    If you promised to call them back after 48 hours, be sure to make the call, even if you don’t have what the client asked for. In a study conducted by the Spectrum Group, 61% of the respondents said they left because the advisor didn’t return their phone calls.

    Make sure you’re continuously eliciting customer feedback to learn more about what you can do to improve their experience with your company.

  3. Being Transparent
  4. Transparency is critical for any financial advisory business that wants to keep its clients.

    Sure, there will always be days when things don’t go as planned. When that happens, be honest enough to share the bad news with the clients. Being honest and transparent can help you develop deeper relationships with them.

  5. Understanding Your Client’s Risk Tolerance
  6. One of the first things you should do when bringing in a new client is to understand their risk tolerance. This is not only a good practice to help you maintain healthy relationships with your clients, it’s the law. An RIA has to document the investor profile of each client in order to carry out their fiduciary duty.  The profile includes investment objectives, time horizon, and financial situation in addition to the risk tolerance.

    Some clients want to play safe and err on the less-riskier side, while others like the riskier investments with high earning potential. Either way, understanding your client’s risk tolerance can help build a solid relationship that will stand the test of time.

Moving Forward

Growing your RIA organically isn’t easy to achieve. However, those who embrace one or more of these tips are more likely to succeed.

Advisor Guidance offers the support services your RIA firm needs to launch, grow, and comply with today’s ever-changing regulatory landscape. Contact us today or visit our website to learn more about what you can do to register and grow your RIA business.

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