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How to build a national solo practice

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I am a solo practitioner, with the majority of my clients out of state.

Although I think I have a relatively modern practice, it is nowhere near state of the art, and yet I have been able to expand nationally.

Here are three tips on how you too can take an advisory practice national.

Step 1: Publish nationally. Advisors can have global reach by publishing on the web, reaching virtually anyone, anywhere, at any time. Many financial sites welcome advisors to post, and many pay to do so.

Don’t write self-promotional pieces or even teasers to get clients to make contact. Consumers are savvy and will likely see right through that.

Give clients useful information, and don’t hold back. Come up with unique solutions that the reader can implement on their own.

They may feel appreciative enough to personally contact the advisor and see what else the advisor can do for them.

Step two: Differentiate the practice. If what an advisor offers seems similar to what everyone else offers, clients will be less likely to reach out. I have differentiated my practice through my fee model (hourly) and by structuring my services with the goal of doing a one-time plan and then letting the client take it from there.

Based on the number of referrals and my wait list, it is an approach that seems to resonate. Other ways to differentiate oneself are to offer advice that is not commonly given or recommend unusual products.

For instance, I advise that clients pay down or pay off their mortgage because it is the inverse of a bond.

I often recommend direct certificates of deposit with small early withdrawal penalties. These essentially give the client a put option, as they have the right to sell it back to the bank or credit union if interest rates rise and they can make more elsewhere.

Step three: Use technology. I have never met the vast majority of my out-of-town clients in person, but I have had face to face meetings with many. Simple, free or very low-cost tools such as Facetime or Skype allow these meetings.

Other tools allow sharing screens.

Although these don’t compare to sitting at a table with the client, they still work and are far better than what most robo-advisors do.

And, of course, the client and I can share documents nearly instantaneously with the magic of the web. insist, however, that no sensitive information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers be shared over the web.

I think my system is secure, but so did Equifax and many others. Luckily, I am a much smaller target.

So, advisors who are ready to expand their horizons from sea to shining sea should try these three steps to build a modern national practice.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on savvy ideas on modernizing your practice.

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