June 7, 2012

10 Ways to Acquire Clients & Grow Your Financial Planning Practice

Nandish Desai

When I entered financial planning business, I really had no idea on how I will be setting-up my practice or how will I be getting clients! I think I have observed my business very closely and it’s dynamics and with a lot of brain-storming (Manish and I) have found some tools and methods of approaches that helps in getting financial planning clients. We have given hours and hours on call to study our business and how we can take it to the next level.

We personally think that financial planning is not a traditional service or goods and it can’t be marketed using traditional methods. This business has its own dynamics and it is really very important to try new ways with different clients. Jagoinvestor is into online model but this can be applicable to any model that you have. None of us is a CFP Certificant at Jagoinvestor, we love what we do and that is our only strength and qualification.

You may be thinking of becoming a planner (Novice) or you are a new planner (Competent) or already an established one (Master). I will try to see that you get some learning from my sharing. Read More and place yourself in one of the 3 Stages of Growth of a Financial Planner.

Now let me share 10 ways you can use to GROW YOUR PRACTICE. These are the ways that we have learned over a period of time, it has worked for us and I am sure they will work for you as well, just pick the one that suits you most and apply it to your practice.

1. Don’t give them a taste

I have a very strong view about when you meet new prospects never give them a little taste of your services but actually give them all of YOU as a planner. Let the prospect experience you fully, never think if I will give more than this, then the person might not need me or won’t come. Give all of the knowledge that you have because the prospects generate a lot of trust when you share things in detail, always see that you have a long conversation and you leave a deep impact on your prospect. This is real value addition; even if the prospect does not become your client he will say good things about you all the time. Many people have come to us after a long gap from having initial call because they had great experience in the first call itself.

2. Don’t make them make hard choices

From the first call I have with prospects, I start to engage them with many different things; they feel as if the process has already started. So now the point is not to say YES or NO to my service the question is whether they would like to continue working with me or not. Never ask a prospect so what have you decided instead ask ‘so would you like to continue having such experiences or not?’ It is like if you put someone in a pool you don’t have to ask them whether they would like to swim or not the point is they are having fun in water and now they would like to continue having fun or not.

3. Fill your calendar

You primary job as a planner is not to be on social websites and create connections and ask for endorsements. Your primary job is to fill your calendar with a lot of conversations. In my experience no business ever got created outside of a conversation. So see that you do this and do not focus on fees if you are new in this business. Never compare what other planners are charging. If you are struggling right now just see whether your calendar is filled with conversations or blank spaces. Get some NO’s today, every news is good news in business when you create. Business happens actually in minutes. Capture how much time you spend on with prospects in each week. This is crucial!

4. Never focus on having more clients

When you focus on having more clients you stop focusing on the person in front of you. If you want to be a financial coach then focus on one person at a time, just serve one person, give him your best, change his financial life and then move on to another and do the same with that person. You will be little slow but will really have a thriving practice very soon.

5. Never discuss affordability

While talking with clients, I have faced issues with fees with a few of them. Now your job is to move the conversation from affordability to possibility. Keep them away from affordability because they will slip back when they are in that zone. The focus has to be on value and the kind of financial future that they want to create. I am very clear, that no client ever pays for financial planning or financial coaching they only pay money for their dreams, for their true wants, for their concerns that they want to clarify. Your job as a planner is to make them clear because when they are clear the decision of working with you happens naturally.

6. Practice speaking your fees

The very first fee I charged was 5k. I really use to practice in the mirror speaking my fees. Hi, this is Nandish and it takes 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k, 50k to do a financial planning project with me. I could see that when I speak 20k or 50k my voice tone would change, my throat would get chocked with a lot of nervousness. I wanted to run away and hide somewhere. After years of practice I am now so comfortable speaking my fees. It is as if I am giving my e-mail id to someone.

7. Focus on people who have money

Your practice will never grow if you only focus on people who don’t have money. If you want to be an HNI you will have to serve HNIs.  A lot of planners I have seen focus on people who don’t have money and then they wonder why they are low on clients.

8. Be the first one

I could convert many prospects into clients because I took the courage to tell the truth. Tell me who you would like most, the one who pleases you? OR one who tells the truth? I use high-flame language with people, which is nothing but truth and that makes conversions very easy and smooth. You can be the first one in investor’s life to tell the truth, just try this and see how magical it is. Initially it used to take 2 weeks for us to convert a client, then it reduced to a week, then a few hours and now we have converted people in less than 3 minutes. It takes time to learn this but I am very clear it is a skill anyone can learn.

9. Testimonials

One of the methods you can try is to take a testimonial before someone becomes your client. Ask them to write an experience they would like to have after working with a planner. Now serve them in a way that this testimonial becomes real, also promise them that they will get much more than what they have written. Then start demonstrating and try to make the testimonial real. If you go on our website you will find many heartfelt testimonials, we call them as our ‘love-letters’. One of our client after the service said I am not happy with the outcome, we did the entire process again with him and he said ‘I love you guys’. Capture the body of your work in form of testimonials and videos, it really works. (See that they are real and not fake). Your clients will become your living, walking and talking brand ambassadors.

10. Really serve people

If you want to learn one thing from Manish Chauhan, then it is ‘being of service’. His commitment to serve people is so high you can’t even imagine. His arms would pain in the night but he will still reply to each and every comment, all by himself. He really does not have readers on the blog, what he has is ‘raving fans’. If you want to earn more money first focus on serving people, build your skills, become competent and don’t just be good at what you do but be great with what you do.

I could not cover all the points that I wanted to share but let’s keep it up to here. I hope this sharing helps you as a planner. If you have some specific questions you can ask me in the comments section. Manish & I would really like share and teach all that we have learnt over the years with other advisors. Thank you for reading.


Authored by,

Nandish Desai

Financial Coach

43 Thoughts to “10 Ways to Acquire Clients & Grow Your Financial Planning Practice”

  1. Nandish. Excellent insights. Love the bit around conversations as this profession in my opinion is more about that than investment plans and strategies

    • Yes .. I agree that conversations is the most important things , This is true for even this article and any blog or any thing .

      I hear this “Clients dont trust us” issue all over financial planning community , Unless people go and talk to people and spend their time with them , the trust is not going to happen . The way clients see “financial planning” as expense and not as “investments” . The same way even financial planners see “conversations” as expenses and not investments . Thats the real issue people struggle to get clients .

      What do you say Vishal ?


      • Agree Manish. The key is to try to develop a model that measures the lifetime financial value of a client relationship and the referrals that he generates over his lifetime for your business. Suddenly what we view as an expense today may look like a great potential investment and the ROI can be materially significant.

      • Manish, I agree with you on the trust factor. But before you can expect your cleitn to trust you, you need to ask yourself – do you trust yourself? Do you trust your judgement and your intentions? Do you trust your sincerity towards your client? If you do, then it’ll show in everything you do, in every word you speak, in every action, even in your body language. And believe me, the client can sense that. And that, in turn, allows him to trust you.

        I’ve never come across a client who didn’t trust me. In fact, i know that a lot of my clients actually trust me more than they do their own family members. And that’s because I’ve never had a moment when I’ve distrusted myself. I’ve always believed that if oyur client does not trust you, then it’s not his fault – it’s Your fault. You have failed to earn that trust. Therefore, if you cannot build trust, then you’re in the wrong profession. Either change yourself, or your profession.

        • Yes .. I agree totally with you on that .. “If you trust yourself , it will show , the client can sense it” . Very true .

          This same thing can be mapped to “charging fees” thing . If a planner is 100% sure and trusts that his fees is justified and provides value, the client will also believe and trust that . But that is lacking in most of the planners them selves.


          • Manish,

            On the subject of charging fees, I have my views:
            While it is apparent that the client pays the fee essentially for your advice and services, i believe that some part of the fee he pays is for the relationship; he pays you a fee Also because he does not want to lose the relationship with you, his advisor. While we are so absorbed in the thought that the client is extremely important to us, and therefore do not want to lose him, we invariably miss the point that we (ie, good advisors) are equally important for the client / investor. And the client knows that. And so he pays a fee, simply because he does not want to lose a good advisor, soemone who’s genuinely interested in his welfare. Just like you don’t want to change your family doctor, the client, too, does not want to change his family advisor.

            Therefore, you show him that you’re worth it, and he’ll be happy to pay your fee. The trick here, lies in proving your worth to him – not just the first time, but every time.

        • bang on..sharadd..well said…and it works..

        • nandishdesai says:

          Great input sharadd, I have experienced this many times and I can see that Trust is generative and it needs to be first generated within us…..you do not have trust infact YOU ARE TRUST……and when you are TRUST being with you is itself a deal and a treat for the other person….

  2. Soubhagya says:

    Great input Nandish..Excellent.

  3. abhinav0115 says:

    Thanks Nandish and Network FP for this post.

    The tips offered are very different from others I have read. I saw that the advice is not focussed solely on building your practice but on how first a financial planner can be effective in transforming the financial life of the person he is serving, and as a result of that (or say along that) build his/her own practice.

    All points hold some very valuable lessons, need some time to ponder over the learnings.

    thanks again!

    • nandishdesai says:

      Abhinav I always see you learning from different sources and it is a great quality that you hold….it really shows your commitment. The more you will observe your practice and actions the more ideas you will be able to generate to develop your practice….these are the things we observed during our journey. We are still learning and we think the journey has just begun.

    • Abhinav

      the good thing I like about you is that you are not rushing . You are giving your time to learn things and build things on your side and one day you will start properly . This is a great thing and people can learn things on this from you . When you go slow , you are actually going fast 🙂 . When you go fast , you are actually preparing to move slow in future .


  4. Roshni Nayak says:

    Thanks Nandish, amazing inputs…And, you guys are giving a good name to this noble profession….!

  5. Wonderful Analysis & Experience sharing….

  6. Taking testimonials before somebody is your client is realiy an innovative idea. we may even include it in our data sheet.

  7. Wonderful Analysis & Experience sharing….

  8. Manish Jain says:


    Great info and honestly it can be applied to life in general not just for financial planners.

  9. sureshcfp says:

    All insights are not good but the best.

  10. Vinit Iyer says:

    Hi Manish & Nandish,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Some of the points are really thought provoking. Looking forward to similar experience sharing in future also.


    • Thanks Vinit

      In our experience , we need to break some rules set by traditional financial planning and what we have learnt in courses and certification . We need to brainstorm on each point which is taught to us and ask “will it work in India ?” – “Will is work with indian mindset ?” . Lets not do things american way (I can see the same steps followed in India which came from US financial planning) .

      Build your own process and everything will become thought provoking . What do think on this ?


  11. Dear Nanish,

    It a very great experience reading and understanding this article , by he name i felt that there would be some thing on where should I go to find my clients.
    but after going through the article I experienced that it is more than what i expected it is purely value based and this is some thing which is needed in setting up an practice. Attitude make the difference.
    You and Manish are doing an excellent Job.

    Great all the best !!!

    • Thanks for appreciation Ashish

      You know a lot of people would not open this article after reading the TITLE on face book and their email, thats because of ‘setting expectation” , thats because of some old experience , and assuming what they are going to get . Thats a common problem also faced by PROSPECTS because by label (Financial Planner) , they also expect few things from him/her and assume what they are going to get at the end, and hence do not come .

      They are not “open” to experience things , they are not open to try out things , they are not ready to give “one more shot” .. Thats why they are still stuck at whatever place they are and trying to find that perfect moment , planner or whatever 🙂 .

      What do you say ?


  12. Vinit Iyer says:

    I really think we should make a Pune Chapter of Network FP wherein all the aspiring and current CFP’s can meet regularly and share their experiences and good practices. It will be a good learning platform…

    Sadique/Manish/Nandish: Your thoughts on this.


    • Vinit… some of the participants of our 3 day program “Comprehensive Financial Plan Construction” do meet regularly to share knowledge, present topics and to troubleshoot case studies.

      This is an excellent practice. The best group I have known is in Bangalore… a groups of CFP Certificants have been meeting every month regularly for the last five years. One can easily see the difference in them when you meet them.

      Network FP would love to encourage and promote any individual / group who are taking an initiative on these lines and don’t have any individual agendas. We would have administered the activity ourself but we don’t have enough bandwidth to do the same. We request volunteers to take up such activities.

  13. nandishdesai says:

    Sadique must already be having some offline groups as the workshops keep happening in different cities…I know some planners like partha and vivek rege and some others who meet every week or 15 days at one place , share their learnings and help each other….this is one very good practice. ( they are mumbai based)

  14. Thanks Nandish . Excellent inputs.

    Well said.


  15. Thanks Mr. Nandish, Manish & Sadique for providing such a wonderful inputs. Your 2nd point – Don’t make them make hard choices & 8th point – Be the first one, very much like. Practically try it with client in past & got amazing result.

    keep updating & sharing with such input like this.


  16. nandishdesai says:

    I applied point number one “Don’t give them a taste” yesterday with a prospect and today he became our client….During the call I offered him more than what he expected…At the end of the call he was not 100% sure, HE WAS NOT READY TO MAKE A COMMITMENT….I still sent him what he asked for on the call infact gave him some other things as well which can be of help to him….These mails got exchanged

    Nandish: Thanks for showing interest in our services. As a next step we can be on call and discuss how we as a team can help you plan your finances. It would be great if you can send us 5 outcomes or results you want to create from financial planning exercise.

    Can we be on call today at 7 pm and take things forward

    Prospect: Just saw this mail. We can have a call now.

    I had a call with this person around 7 30 pm

    after the call nandish: I have attached data sheet as discussed on call.This will help you in organizing your finances, you will have all your data at one place.

    Let me know what did you learn on the call and also let me know if you would like to EXPERIENCE more of us…… Get specific my friend. I have also attached one more exercise for you which will really help you as an investor..

    All the best , stay in action and stay committed.


    Hi Nandish,

    Thank you for spending time to talk to me yesterday. It was very informative and to me, the first step in the right direction towards better financial management. Please don’t mistake my non-committal response at the end of our conversation. I want to be sure that I have the buy-in of my wife (who has to be an equal partner in this) and we are mentally prepared to take actions on your advice. This itself is a learning from our discussion.

    My key takeaways from yesterday are –

    Be action oriented. Don’t just think about fin mgmt, but actually go ahead and implement it
    Be involved. Don’t just take steps based on someone’s advice but understand what you are getting into
    Try and enjoy the whole process and don’t get bogged down with the end results in mind

    I feel, I would be comfortable going with the planning first. Please share the details with me so that we can move ahead on this.


    This is awesome $$$$$$$ …..The non-committal mode is dangerous for you( and your financial life) and so I was bit concerned in that moment…..With this mail you have shown your commitment and I have no doubts on that front….In my view with everything in life either be a clear yes or a clear no but never be in MAY BE state because it is dangerous for our growth.

    As a next step we will send you our bank details

    Prospect (now a client) : I have made the transfer of Rs.%%K via NEFT. The amount should be credited to you by today.

    Money is in our Bank now. Cheers!….Guys lets have this kind of sharing on this blog, never write how great the articles are….Till we dont share the real stuff nothing is going to happen… Lets thank each other with sharing results and actions

  17. Dear Nadish,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us throw network Fp.
    What are the procedure to add valuable client . Throw cold calling or having some other procedure if available. Kindly explained to me.

    • nandishdesai says:


      Cold calling will really not work for having high paying clients…You will have to schedule conversations and really show the value of your work. Creating clients is all about practice practice practice.Here is a simple process you can follow.

      1) invitation- invite people, ask them to have a discussion with you
      2) conversation- leave a deep impact through your conversation
      3) proposal (gentle offering)- make an offer, it is like a gift
      4) welcoming your client- open your arms and the person will walk into your door

      Let me know if this helped you or not.

      All the best my friend. Have an awesome practice


  18. Thanks Nandish,

    Great , job of understanding this business and taking into a further big League, Definately implementing couple of things would bring in more satisfied clients, i like about, not focussing on More clients the most, until and unless he/ she is fully satisfied with all the expectations that he had , you should never look for another client.

    Well thougt experienced Ideas.



    • nandishdesai says:

      Thanks Harish. Focusing on single person, one client at a time. Focus on what kind of experience the other person is left with while talking with you….this becomes a game changer….I really think we are in one of the best professions in the world….it has challenges, it has rewards, it has a BIG market and it is relationship based

  19. Hey Nandish,

    Awesome piece! I really enjoyed it!!! Kudos to you and Manish:-)

    • nandishdesai says:

      Hi Partha, good to see you man…. I am very sure we are going to spread the virus of life planning in india…We will see that we dont hear financial planning word anywhere….with this the investors will benefit, income of financial planners will rise and the overall industry will benefit.

      We will catch-up when I come to mumbai. We are planning to do some even in mumbai in july, this time be our guest and we will have blast together.

      Can you help us find some venue in mumbai for 50 people.


  20. rating this article among the top 10 best ever.. and the best part is some of the ideas mentioned here is not just for financial planning. but holds true for any business as well. thanks again manish..

  21. vinay7 says:

    Hi Nandish and Manish,
    Superb Article!! It looks like you guys are not only gud at financial management but also great at relationship management which i attach great importance to. i request you guys to continuously keep sharing such quality thoughts on a ongoing basis through this forum.

  22. nandishdesai says:

    Hi Vinay,

    Thanks. We would really like to share more with our community. If you have any specific Questions regarding your practice building than do let us know. We would be more than happy to share our experiences with you and others.


  23. daya.aski says:


    i am your blog follower. Manish your insights on investment related information are commendable.

    i had not read point 5 and 9 before this. 9th point we normally find after giving service. Here before the service we are asking for it, which makes one stand different.

    Objective and expectations are set before the final outcome. if client expecting anything extra it is delivered at the first time rather than making changes in the final plan presentation. 




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