Being a thought leader—a recognized industry expert who monetizes this positioning—is instrumental to creating a successful high-net-worth practice. It is increasingly a requirement for any professional wanting to work with the wealthy—especially the very wealthy.

While recognizing the value of being a thought leader to business development, a great many wealth managers do not believe they can become thought leaders. In a survey of 319 financial professionals, 72% of wealth managers said this is because they did not think they had the requisite skills, while 62% cited a lack of time. Less than 10% thought they were experts or expert enough to become thought leaders.

The high-value content that is part of thought leadership may be part of the problem for wealth managers who don't see themselves in that role. Creating content requires well-defined skills that wealth managers and their teams usually don’t have. On the other hand, adopting a curating approach will—for the most part—eliminate this obstacle.

Producing high-value thought leadership content no doubt takes a great deal of time. Even curating high-value-thought leadership content takes time. All in all, becoming a thought leader requires wealth managers to put in the time and effort. It requires a solid commitment, and if wealth managers are too busy, then becoming a thought leader is not for them.

Another complication is that many wealth managers think very broadly or take a grandiose view when they think about becoming a thought leader. If a wealth manager becomes a thought leader, it does not mean “everyone” will know who he or she is. Wealth managers are well served by building a professional brand. The aim is for select audiences to see them as wealth management authorities because doing so can translate into building a sensational wealth management practice.

Thinking in terms of becoming generally famous or something along the lines of a YouTube superstar is often a debilitating mistake. Understanding that being able to convert high-value thought leadership content into personal financial capital is a cornerstone of thought leadership. Consequently, wealth managers need to be very, very selectively famous.

What is important is that a choice audience sees the wealth managers as a thought leader. This is known as his or her thought leadership “sphere of authority.” It is where he or she is recognized as the wealth management expert. For the most part, a wealth manager’s sphere of authority can be geographic, by target audience, by service or product, or any combination of the three.

It is wise to have a concentrated approach. By being tightly focused, a wealth manager can indeed become a thought leader and substantially become more successful. 

Russ Alan Prince, president of R.A. Prince & Associates, is a consultant to family offices, the ultra-wealthy and select professionals.