If you’ve read much of anything I’ve written in the past few years, you know that I’m a big advocate of advisors leaving their stuffy firms and striking out on their own. However, some advisors I work with are still hesitant to do so. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I see to advisors going independent is that they believe they don’t have enough assets under management to have a profitable business. Many of these advisors work with younger individuals or couples who haven’t yet built up a lot of wealth to invest and therefore their commissions aren’t very high.

There’s an easy answer to this problem, though it does take some courage as it means redesigning your business model. When you move from a commission-based firm to an independent, advice-based firm, it doesn’t matter how much money your clients have. Why? Because you aren’t making a profit off what you sell them. Instead, you are developing a monthly service plan that is based on the value you are giving and you can easily explain to them how you will bill them.

Why a Monthly Planning Service Makes Sense

It makes it more affordable for clients  If you have a lot of younger clients or clients who are still struggling to built wealth, you may notice they are on a relatively limited income. This means they can’t be shelling out thousands of dollars to a financial planner every time they want to make a trade or invest in something new. When you create a monthly service plan, you can give them an affordable option that makes sense for their budget and gives them the customer service they need—no matter how much or how little they have to invest.

It’s a steady stream of income for you  When you work on commission, your monthly income can be all over the board. And, if you’re in a situation where most of your clients are still trying to build wealth, it could mean a pretty low number. When you create a monthly plan, you know exactly what to expect in your paycheck every month, which gives you peace of mind and confidence to grow.

Tips on Establishing Your Plan

Now that you see the positives of creating an advice-based business, it’s time to talk about actually putting the process in motion. Here are some tips that I’ve personally used to establish and grow my independent firm.

Develop a market persona  Do you know who your ideal clients are? When you identify a certain group of people, give them a name (or a persona). A popular persona in this industry is HENRY, which stands for High Earners Not Rich Yet. When you know who you want to work with, it’s easy to locate that demographic and market to it.

Create a sales funnel An effective sales funnel can help you turn website traffic into new business. You can generate leads through content, ads, or social media and capture interested individuals’ information so you can continue marketing to them over a long period of time.

Put an automated payment system in place  Depending on the nature of your business, you may have clients all over the world. Since they will need to pay you monthly, it makes sense to have an automated payment system, such as Stripe, in place. This gives both you and your clients peace of mind that their payments are secure and will be made on time.

Focus on content  Content is huge when it comes to growing your entrepreneurial firm. I make sure to publish blogs like this one regularly, and I also do plenty of videos. I not only put these on my website, but I also share them on social media and use them in my sales funnel to generate traffic. Just keep in mind that your content should be helpful and interesting to your clients—DON’T constantly sell to them.

Use Google and Facebook ads  Online marketing has evolved at a lightning pace in the past few years, and it’s easier than ever to target your ideal clients using Google or Facebook ads. When you’re able to zero in on those you want to work with the most, you can easily develop a marketing plan that will pique their interest and encourage them to do business with you.

Develop an effective service plan  Whether you meet with clients monthly or quarterly and you’re doing so in person or via Skype, you need to have a consistent and effective customer service plan put in place. It’s easy to let this slip through the cracks when you’ve got money rolling in every month and when some of your clients may live in a different city or state. However, I can’t stress enough that customer service equals customer retention. If you don’t focus on it, it will end up hurting you in the end.

Blind tradition can get you in a lot of trouble in the financial planning industry, especially if what you’re truly meant to be at heart is an entrepreneur. When you shift to an advice-based model and create a monthly service plan, you can do what you do best—serve people. Have a question or comment about developing a monthly service plan? Please leave it below.


When you become a mentor to your clients, deeply understand them, and guide them toward a better future, then you’ve learned the ways of a financial caregiver. You’ve come to know what it means to be a true purveyor of advice, and how to use money as a conduit to a more fulfilling life for yourself and those you serve.