How to Build a Virtual Advisory Practice

Do you ever feel like your business is getting left behind?

If you’re not moving your financial advisory practice online, that hypothetical fear is about to be more valid than you realize. The most respected professionals in our industry have already taken their firms virtual, leaving the rest of financial advisors wondering how they, too, can have a successful virtual practice of 100 to 200 clients. The goal is for a financial advisor to have complete control over their energy and schedule without being tied to traditional restrictions of running their own firm. And doing this all while leveraging their unique brand and strategy.



The first, and perhaps most straightforward, is NATIONAL VIRTUALIZATION. The industry has organically created this initial and basic form of becoming virtual by encouraging advisors to pick a niche, have a national focus, and solve a pain point for clients.

Select A Niche. Focus on professionals in an industry or company as the ideal client. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, or employees of a specific company are great examples of an industry niche.

Have A National Focus. Open yourself up to working with people all over the country.

Find The Pain Point. Find a problem related to the niche. For example, if you are working with younger dentists, you could focus on the pain of student loans. Your help and execution with solving this initial pain develops trust. You can then begin focusing on delivering holistic advice on investments and financial planning.

Remember to Find the Lost Human Connection. The best advantage you can have in the financial consulting industry is human connection. With a move toward virtual business, people can easily become overwhelmed by the amount of information they are receiving. They feel they might be doing the right thing with the automated solution, when in reality they are doing so much wrong. Financial advisors have a unique opportunity to find common ground and acknowledge clients problems while building a trusted relationship. Doing this can be harder on video conference, so remember to be patient if your practice growth is not as quick as you would like.


Next up: LOCAL VIRTUALIZATION. For established practices, it’s a bit easier to take a local virtualization approach. Instead of looking nationally for new clients, you can maintain a local focus and seek to solve a couple of different pain points for people in your area. For example, you could focus on a 30-mile radius around your city and target retirement income planning or cash flow planning for young couples.

You will still solve pain points for these clients, but as you develop systems and rhythms with them, you can set virtual expectations. You will still want to have an initial face-to-face meeting, but at the end you can highlight the benefits of doing virtual meetings going forward. You might suggest that because you value their time, you’ll do future meetings via video conference since traffic is so awful in your city.

Human relationships are always strongest locally, and being able to go virtual in this way will give you the best of both worlds. In doing so, you’ve maintained relational connections, however, you are still not building leverage. After all, you are still wearing all the hats in your firm: marketing, client service, operations, technology, financial planning, and more…


The third and final way offers the best solution for advisors, VIRTUALIZATION WITH LEVERAGE. This method of going virtual allows you to focus solely on what you do best, while giving you the freedom to work anywhere from your laptop. You will still focus on your niche and the pain points of your clients, both nationally and locally, but you will do it with absolute freedom.

In order to be successful you’ll have to take an introspective review of what you actually do well. Once you’ve identified these items, it will be time to focus on them, and let go of other necessary tasks for your business functionality and start delegating them to others. The entrepreneurial spirit of financial advisors often makes us feel like we can do everything well, so take some time to really assess what you are uniquely positioned to do for your clients and your business and let go of the rest.

In order to get the freedom you desire, you must focus on your strengths and bring in people to support you in the things you don’t do well or simply the things you don’t like to do. In a virtual space these people don’t have to report into your office every day, they could be working anywhere in the world. Yet, this support team will provide the leverage you need to be successful and have the practice you desire. As your business grows, be sure to focus on incentivizing your support team to retain high-quality talent. Before you know it, you will be operating at your maximum potential and have full control over your time and energy!

Is building a virtual practice with leverage easy? No, but it is an ideal way to take your business to the next level and can be the most rewarding type of financial planning firm. You have to be honest with yourself, be committed to having a team to help you, and constantly reassess what is and is not working. In doing so, you will build enterprise value in a way that is best for your goals, time, and business. So shake that “left behind” feeling and take your first steps towards virtualization today.

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