Focusing on a specific type of client - whether airline pilots, baseball players or competitive bass fisherman - is one way to give your planning practice an edge. Among high-performing firms with a target client profile, just 3% pursue opportunities outside of that niche (versus 11% for all other firms surveyed), according to the 2012 Fidelity RIA Benchmarking Study.

The reasons are manifold: Word of mouth serves many specialized planners so well they don't need to market themselves as much, if at all. And developing an expertise in a complicated niche produces greater ROI when there are more clients who need it.

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