The simple RIA startup checklist for growing your new business

Growth is top of mind for most independent firms. Fortunately, it’s a great time to be in the financial services sector.

Established RIAs are looking ahead to the next few years of exciting projected growth. Schwab predicts that in the coming five years, 43% of firms expect to grow AUM by 10% or more annually and 48% expect to grow revenue by the same margin. The median firm, Schwab says, will need to add 6 staff over the next 5 years just to keep up with these growth rates.

As a new RIA, however, you’re still trying to define your firm’s identity and the right approach to growing your business.  The balancing act between generating revenue and building your ideal practice can be a tough one. This checklist will help you stay true to the reasons you started your RIA while getting your business growing in a sustainable way.

Your RIA startup checklist: kickstart growth with these tips!

  • Start with the end in mind: Take time to stake out a target position in the market. How do you want to be known? What are the traits of your ideal client? What kind of practice do you want in the future? If you started an RIA out of a passion for helping clients, how can you build a brand reputation as a trusted and knowledgeable expert?
  • Be an expert, not a chameleon: Resist the urge to try to be all things to all clients. There is a significant competitive benefit in carving out a niche and differentiating your brand. Who do you like to work with? Get specific about the clientele you want to serve (Retiring executives? Pro athletes? Investors facing transitions? An industry like healthcare, oil, and gas, or retail goods?).
  • Set clear, actionable goals: Numbers matter. What do you want your practice to look like at year’s end? Be clear with your goals. Develop daily habits and do frequent evaluations to track your activity and performance versus your KPIs.  Let the data guide what to start, stop, and keep doing to reach your goals.
  • Prioritize time efficiency: Low-efficiency client acquisition activities like 1:1 meetings and cold calls take a lot of time for less reward than more efficient activities that scale your individual labor across multiple prospects. A Kitces Research study showed that the most cost-effective financial advisor marketing strategies are all related to educating prospects. Leading a financial education course is an organic way to build relationships with every attendee at once — without any of the sales atmosphere that turns off their brains.
  • Amplify your voice:  You need a system to attract and retain the attention of your target market. Clients could listen to millions of other voices. How are you starting the conversation and creating meaningful, regular communication? How do you build relationships? This is best done face-to-face (in person or virtually), where human connections resonate the best, and where the pressure of a sale is not on the line. An educational classroom setting, for example, allows for self-selection on behalf of the prospects who have previewed the value they could gain from your services.
  • Look past “emerging” and prepare to scale: An RIA puts a lot on your plate since you’re at the center of everything. You’ll need more than an understanding of how to start RIA marketing. You need a scalable, repeatable system that amplifies the power of your time investment. The earlier you implement it, the better. A turnkey platform with proven results can accelerate your timeline without reinventing the wheel.
  • Embrace mentorship: You don’t have to do it all yourself. Mentorship and guidance will be a huge help. Others have succeeded at this, and you can follow their lead. At FMT, we offer a full slate of guidance and training opportunities from experienced experts to help advisors continue to convert clients and grow their businesses.
Once you’ve checked all of these boxes, your RIA is ready to scale sustainably with efficient time management and real ROI for your marketing efforts. Read some of our success stories with this approach to RIA marketing here and learn how you can save time on marketing, sustain lead generation, and grow your client base.


Contact FMT to learn more about what we can do for your new RIA today.

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