Building a strong niche business in financial planning can be worth its weight in clients, according to veteran financial planner Brian Pert.

The Pert & Associates managing director runs a highly focused business, concentrating on medical specialists and Qantas pilots. He decided to focus on a small pool of clients following advice from business adviser Jim Stackpool.

“One of the tactics we used as a business was to position ourselves as experts in a niche as you can add more value as a planner,” Pert says. “We are now quite respected in the space.”

Pert has used strategies like putting out industry white papers to medical specialists and anaesthetists to add value and increase his expertise in the area.

Expert across complex needs

While he recommends financial planners shouldn’t try to be “all things to all clients”, in his niche Pert is an expert across a complex range of needs. This is why he refers to his practice often as a “personal CFO” for clients.

“These guys are fairly time poor,” he says. “What we do is project manage them.

“The medicos we are dealing with are in their mid 30s to early 40s, so they are typically someone who has gone through a training program for six years and popped their head out and are really entering into a new world. That new world involves them running their own business, so they need a lot of hand holding.

“They are looking for someone to go on a journey.”

That journey can mean assistance with private practice issues like book keeping or protection of personal assets, but also into more personal financial strategy including investment and buying a property.

“One of the major focuses is keeping them accountable; reducing the mortgage rather than borrowing to invest more,” he says.

“[We are also] involved with a couple of private hospitals and run private practice weekends talking about all the issues involved, and we are involved with ANZCA – the Australian New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.”

Word of mouth

He says the niche has helped his business grow, with more than 50 per cent of business coming from word-of-mouth referrals from clients.

It’s a boutique service that has paid off for Pert, who works on a fee-for-service basis on 12-month retainers

“We’ve been charging clients fee for service because it’s more transparent. I don’t want to link my efforts to the stock market,” he says. “We might have clients paying large money and we want to provide value.