Most wealth managers want to grow their practices. However, some obstacles are reflected in their concerns, such as finding ideal clients and increasing their assets under management (Exhibit 1). One way to address these concerns is to build a powerful brand, which concerns about 60% of wealth managers. For a comprehensive list of concerns, see What are the Key Concerns of Financial Advisors?

Of the wealth managers concerned about building a powerful brand, all report trying to do so. However, 60% believe they are not gaining much traction (Exhibit 2). A sixth say their efforts are very effective, and 30% say they are effective.

A powerful brand is a tremendous risk reduction strategy in the private wealth industry. It can be extremely effective in enhancing business development efforts. With a powerful brand, it is much easier for wealth managers to be referred by clients and other professionals. Wealth managers with powerful brands easily stand out from the crowd.

Branding Strategy
Branding strategy is taught at business schools, training firms, in books and by coaches, and a lot of content is available online. A lot of branding strategies start with defining the brand’s purpose. The branding strategy will then fold in some understanding of the audience. It will also often include perspectives about competitors to make favorable comparisons. In effect, much of the advice on branding focuses on the wealth managers.

A more robust approach leverages the Everyone Wins Process, where the focus is on the other person instead of the wealth manager. What determines if wealth managers have powerful brands is their insights into ideal clients and their ability to deliver exceptional value to them.

To be clear…A powerful brand communicates the results promised to ideal clients before working with them.

This approach focuses on the benefits a wealth manager’s ideal clients receive from working with them. The approach is about the “promise of results.” There are four core steps to building a powerful brand.

Four Core Steps To Build A Powerful Brand
The four core steps to build a powerful brand are:

Step I: Specify your financial goals. Yes, your powerful brand is about your ideal clients. Still, you always start with what you want to earn and what you want to be worth. You are in business to make money. The particular business you are in is wealth management. You want to profit. It is impossible to make well-informed business decisions without knowing the numbers, and your desired income, even more than your desired net worth, is a critical number you need to know. Your desired future earnings tie into your choice of ideal clients. It will also help determine the wealth management business model you select.

Step II: Decide who your ideal clients are. With an understanding of what you want to earn, we move to whom you wish to serve. You need to determine who your ideal clients are. Having a solid rationale for your choice of ideal clients is invaluable when making this decision. This can be anything from an opportunistic situation, such as being brought into an association, to you believing your chosen ideal clients are the future generators of substantial private wealth.

In deciding who your ideal clients are, you are not just picking an exciting and appealing segment of all potential clients. You choose whom you want to work with because you know the cohort well. You understand the value they seek from a wealth manager, and you can deliver beyond their expectations.

Because of your knowledge of your ideal clients and wealth management solutions, you can become a thought leader. This is about providing your ideal clients and other professionals who may work with them with insights into wealth management solutions that drastically improve their financial lives. It takes greater effort to become a thought leader, but the rewards are also greater.

Based on your deep understanding of your ideal clients' needs, wants and preferences, you must set out how to deliver exceptional value to them. Suppose your wealth management practice is not structured to provide exceptional value to the ideal clients you have identified. In that case, you must adjust your business model or who you prefer to work with. What is essential is being able to meet or exceed the promise of results made by your powerful brand.

Step III: Share your message with your ideal clients. If your intended ideal clients are unaware of your expertise and capabilities and how they can majorly benefit by engaging you, then you do not have a powerful brand. There are different ways to communicate with various audiences, and you need to know what they are to build your powerful brand. In sharing your powerful brand, it is helpful to think about a larger faceless audience and when you are in a one-to-one situation with a prospective ideal client.

Step IV: Walk the talk. Your powerful brand is a promise to your ideal clients of future exceptional value. You have to make good on the promise after a prospective ideal client becomes a client. Therefore, your wealth management business model must be able to fulfill the promises made by your powerful brand.

You are promising results, so you must deliver results. Doing so builds your reputation, which reinforces your powerful brand, which further builds your reputation.

It takes time to create a distinct identity and perception in a desired audience, your ideal clients. There are ways to accelerate the branding process, but it will still take time and a concerted effort. Many wealth managers start to build a brand and then get distracted by the day-to-day needs of running a wealth management practice. Therefore, if you are thinking about building a powerful brand, consider the demands of your time and decide if you can commit to the endeavor.

A powerful brand does not make for a highly successful wealth management practice by itself. It is an additive. Yes, a powerful brand can improve your wealth management practice, but it must be combined with a high-quality, proficient wealth management practice. Only then will you likely experience tremendous success.

With a powerful brand, you will, in all probability, not be worldwide famous. That is not what you are looking for from a powerful brand. You are looking to be renowned for your expertise with your ideal clients. Your powerful brand will help you get more ideal client referrals. It will help you get more and wealthier client referrals from other professionals. It may even lead to some ideal clients walking in the door because they were researching private wealth industry professionals, and you stood out from the crowd.

Jerry D. Prince is the director of Integrated Academy, part of Integrated Partners, a leading financial advisor firm.