3 Types of Financial Planners – Which Group Are You In?


There are three types of financial planning businesses.

All three have its own style, it’s own structures and measurements and it’s own strategies.

The question is: are you in the type of financial planning business you really want to be in?


The original financial planning business was geographically based. The local farm is all about geography, as is the baker and the pharmacy. And so is ‘the financial go-to guy’. The one who helps you if you want to buy a house, arrange insurance and receive solid advice for your pension.

The geography-based business is ‘real-estate and event-driven’.

Your message is: “if you want financial advice about ………… (such as buying a house, divorce, pension), then come to me (because I’m nearby)”

The geography-based financial planning business sells advice and products, mostly when people need it.


As information began to spread, a second kind of business came along. The commodity-based business says: “we sell what they sell, but cheaper”. The commodity business requires that information is available and that you’re able to actually produce a standard item cheap enough to win at this.

The commodity business always lives on the knife edge of cheaper. More information, bigger areas served and the combination of automation and cheaper labor means that at any moment, you can be made obsolete.

The commodity-based financial planning business is ‘product- and price-driven’.

Your message is: “if you want a better and cheaper product or advice, then come to me”

The commodity business sells the cheapest advice and products. And is also online available, no planner needed.


The third type is the modern type. The type where people have the desire to make things happen. Once built, it’s the most stable one. It’s the community-based business.

This entity thrives because it’s worth the drive. It’s worth the cost and it delivers something hard to find just about anywhere: community. The community-based business might very well serve a local (geographic) community.

But it doesn’t try to serve every person in the town. Just those that have decided to eagerly join that community.

Community-based financial planning businesses tell stories. They create remarkable services. They happily surrender market share to the commodity seller, if it’s a lower price you want, good luck to you!

The community business says, “people like us come to a place like this.” This is where brands live, and where work that matters gets done.

The community financial planning business is ’emotional-driven’.

Your message is: “if you want to feel ……………. then come to me (because we are like you)”

The community-based financial planning business sells a feeling of understanding and belonging. And yes, along the way, sells some products and services too.

What works?

All three structures can work for a financial planner. You’re the one who gets to choose.

It might seem that building a community-based financial planning business is hard,  scary and fuzzy. Then think about this:

Do you believe that you can build a successful business, depending on people to come to you because they need to? Even while information is flooding us and people can choose to skip you with a swipe? Then yes, you want to be in the geography business.

Do you believe that you can build a successful business, depending on winning the Google search sweepstakes and to win the price-shopping shopper? Then yes, you want to be in commodity business.

There is an alternative. It’s a business that matters to your clients.

If you want to be in this kind of business, then keep reading. Because here are some benefits you’d probably didn’t think of earlier. But which makes you more success- and meaningful:

You always serve ideal clients

Ideal clients are clients who inspire you, who energize you and that make you come to work every day with a good sense of motivation. Ideal clients have the same values in life and are naturally attacted to you.

People don’t come to you because they need to. They buy in because they WANT to.

Do you think that makes you referrable?

Your story is unique

Can you think of any financial planner who’s value proposition is: “I serve people who feel responsible for their family because I believe people can achieve more when they have a solid home base”. 

If you have a family (or even an imaginable family), do you feel it too when reading this?

The feeling that you – immediatly – want to know more about this type of service?

You are the leader

Gary Vaynerchuk runs Wine Library TV (http://tv.winelibrary.com), and he ‘runs’ a community. Millions of people around the world turn to him to narrate their passion for wine. He helps them discover new wines and better understand the wines they love. But Gary doesn’t market to his audience. He doesn’t manage them either.

He matters to his audience.

He leads his community. It’s an act of generosity and the fuel for a movement. Not a marketing stunt. He doesn’t push; he leads.

Were people writing about or talking about wine before? Of course. Information has never been difficult to come by. What makes Gary so successful is the way he uses a new medium and new techniques to communicate his passion, to connect people, and to create change. And so his community grows.

Do you think you have to sell anything to your clients when you lead your community?

Your clients are in for the long run

Suppose you are working in a niche market for young adults. Suppose that your clients are going to work with you for several years.

Do you think your message still resonates with this type of client when their kids are grown up? Your value proposition fails to connect with your clients when they are in business with you for a while.

That’s why you want your message to resonate with a feeling your client wants to have. It will stand the test of time.


Your business can be highly profitable

Many people are starting to realize that they work a lot and that working on stuff they believe in (and making things happen) is much more satisfying than just getting a paycheck and waiting to get fired.

Can someone like me help me with my finances into my new future, he might ask himself?

Many people have decided to spend their money buying things that aren’t factory-produced commodities. And they’ve decided not to spend their time embracing off-the-shelf ideas. People have decided, instead, to spend time and money on fashion, on stories, on things that matter, and on things they believe in.

What if those people believe in you, financial planner?

Community-based financial planning businesses are about faith. About belief in your service. And they are grounded in respect and admiration for you. Because you are the leader of the community.

Do you believe in financial planning? Do you believe in what you do? Every day?

It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy.

If you don’t want to miss the chance to inspire each other to be more meaningful with our financial planning business, please answer the following question:

Who do you want to serve?

Please, leave your answer here below in the comment field. Thank you very much.

Let’s make financial planning matter.

To your success,

Ronald Sier


Leave a Reply 13 comments

Christian Reply

Sustainability minded people.

Monisha Murthy Reply

I believe in growing with a community

Robin Bols Reply

Hoi Ronald, ik volg je via Linkedin en lees met veel plezier je inspirerende verhalen. Wij maken online software waarmee consumenten zelf of met hulp van een financieel planner hun financiële toekomst kunnen monitoren en/of bijstellen. Ik ga je tips verwerken in onze communicatie.

Fijne dag

Bill Mullen Reply

There is an interesting article in today’s wsj by Warren Kosak. 4/28-29 /18 Page A23. Kosak is obviously an intelligent man who didn’t know what he didn’t know & it is what everyone needs to know. I make sure my clients know these basics

Akshay verma Reply

Very well written blog!

rich dworzak Reply

I want to serve those who are honest hard working people who want to save and get ahead, but who are willing to accept advice on ways to improve upon what they are currently doing. I believe that I can make a difference in their lives and in their family’s lives, and they in turn can make a difference in our communities.

Ashley Maxwell Reply

Thanks for your comment about how financial planning could be based on our location in the world. I like how you said that you could also use planners from the community to help you locally. My husband and I are considering hiring a financial planner to help us organize our money.

Marsha Odor Reply

I provide financial planning for educators. The statement that I heard from someone else and and that resonates most with me is, \”I help educators (or whomever you work with) develop financial strategies so that they can focus on things that are more important than money.\”

Andrew Dickson Reply

Sounds like you are still in Direct Sales Force mode.

A good adviser advises (in the real sense) and when necessary will recommend and BUY product for his client.
If you\’re still in transactional frame of mind where a product has to be sold for you to survive, I can\’t believe you\’re on the client\’s side

    Ronald Sier Reply

    You are quite right that I am in the direct sales business Andrew. And you must know that I am really proud of it too. You see, I don\’t sell products, I don\’t sell investments, and I even don\’t sell financial planning. I\’m selling a feeling my client wants to have. What I do is to help my clients to get that feeling. I do that with my financial planning services. That\’s why I believe in the importance of the financial planner. Because we can help people to get what they really want: a good feeling about themselves.

David Reply

An excellent article which accurately describes the choices we had to make when transitioning our business from a predominately transactional to a Lifestyle Financial Planning model. It was not without some pain and not everyone survived the journey but thank goodness we persevered as we are in a much better place now and I am enjoying my relationship with my clients more than ever.

Keep up the good work Ronald

Ashish Reply

Hi Ronald,

It is a good read indeed, started making some changes.

Marc Reply

This is excellent. Reading this is like talking to myself. This is the exact direction I am taking my business.

Who do I want to serve? I want to serve those who are like me, who see the world as I do, who understand my approach, and who appreciate my way of doing things.

Everyone wins.

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