Business owners represent an attractive niche market for financial advisors. Advisors are business owners too, so you probably already have an understanding of some of the needs of these potential clients. But acquiring new clients in this market can be challenging.

At the outset, you must recognize that you will be dealing with corporate rather than individual needs, says Heather Holjevac, senior wealth advisor with TriDelta Financial in Oakville, Ont. Therefore, the acquisition strategies used with retail clients will not necessarily work with business owners.

Attracting business owners means being able to “provide them with the experience they expect and add value to their businesses,” Holjevac says.

Here are five strategies to help you attract business owners as clients:

> Establish a business-owner client profile
Determine the ideal type of business owner you would like to attract — that is, whether they would run small, large or start-up businesses. The size of business would normally dictate the client’s needs, which would in turn enable you to assess what you can offer them.

You may then wish to narrow your profile further, to denote specific business segments, such retail, manufacturing or industrial.

> Assess the needs of your chosen segment
Holjevac suggests that you learn all you can about the type of businesses you have decided to target. Attend trade shows, join relevant trade associations or groups and read related publications to learn as much as possible about your target segment.

This strategy should prepare you to approach business owners and be able to “speak their language” in a knowledgeable manner.

> Determine what you bring to the table
“Business owners need more than investment advice,” Holjevac says.

You should be in a position to discuss taxes, insurance, employee benefits, succession planning and other matters, and be able to separate your clients’ personal issues from those related to the business.

“Instead of looking at what you can offer from an investment standpoint, you must offer what [your clients] are interested in,” Holjevac says.

If you cannot meet the full spectrum of needs of your target segment, make sure you have relationships with other professionals — such as lawyers, accountants and insurance specialists — who can meet their needs to enhance your menu of services.

> Reaching business owners
“It is hard to get in front of business owners,” Holjevac says. “You cannot cold call them. Instead, you need a strong introduction.”

One of the best ways to get introductions, she says, is through centres of influence (COI), such as lawyers and accountants, with whom you may have referral arrangements.

“You must be able convince COIs that you have a strategy to help their clients,” she says.

You also might meet prospective business-owner clients at trade association events.

> Marketing to business owners
“You must be able to connect with business owners on their terms,” Holjevac says.

You must have a well-defined plan and a carefully crafted message that clearly addresses business owners’ specific needs. Your marketing material and your pitch must demonstrate your familiarity with the trends and challenges of the segment you are targeting.

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