Advisor Ron Munman was clear on his goal of building and growing a sustaining advisory business that helped families in a first-class way.

The problem: He lacked the confidence and control he felt were necessary to achieving his vision. “I was a generalist who took most clients, with no defined process in place, and our discussions typically revolved around investment performance,” he says. “I was always reacting to clients instead of being proactive about family issues.”

Munman realized he needed a more holistic approach. Working with a coach, he and his team implemented a few key strategies that have helped grow his business.

1. Create a crystal-clear value proposition. Munman emphasizes that advisors should define who they are, what they do, and who they do it for in great detail to be successful and avoid being commoditized. That means not only deciding on who your ideal clients will be, but also developing a process for delivering an exceptional experience to that specific niche—and then not deviating from that framework. In Munman’s case, his value proposition means advising small and middle-market business owners on advanced planning issues.

2. Deliver comprehensive wealth management. Munman and his team put in place a five-step process for delivering wealth management, which is fully represented in both their modeling and investment plans. It includes a discovery stage designed to help Munmun understand clients and their families on a deep level so that the plans he creates reflect their core needs, goals and values. It also systematically addresses his clients’ key non-investment concerns through a team of specialized strategists in areas such as wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable giving. “By gaining a holistic understanding of our clients, we get to do so much for them—and that is a key component to creating and growing flourishing partnerships with the families we serve,” he says.

Based on his experience, Munman offers the following advice to advisors looking to move to a higher level of success.

Focus on value. “We believe that value drives growth, period,” he says. “We never focus on revenue because we know our business will grow if we're focused on the right metrics—and those metrics always begin with the value we bring to clients. If you can provide that value for the clients you work with and your referral sources clearly understand your value-add, everything else will follow.”

Identify the right market for you. “You can’t be everything to everyone,” notes Munman. He believes advisors need to ask themselves two key, equally important questions to get clear on their value proposition:
• Where is the greatest opportunity?
• What type of clients do you love to serve?

Armed with that insight, you can make informed decisions about how to best spend your time, energy, money and resources in ways that can accelerate growth.

Make the commitment. Munman’s journey from generalist advisor to specialist wealth manager didn’t happen overnight. Instead, it took a period of years and an intense focus on implementation. “You can’t have transformational change by dipping a toe in the water—you have to dive in,” he emphasizes. “Give yourself time and accept the expertise of the coaches or people who are guiding you through the process.”

Today, says Munman, the practice operates with more confidence and efficiency than ever. “Because we’re focused on serving a specific group, we’re seen as specialists with a strong knowledge base in that area. We’re also extremely proactive in addressing issues because we know our clients so well and the issues they’re likely to face. And we’re able to deliver that proactive expertise more efficiently because we’ve systematized the experience.”

The best part, he says: “I can honestly say we’re delivering a first-class business in a first-class way.”

John J. Bowen Jr. is CEO of CEG Worldwide and CEG Insights.