By Bryce Sanders

When someone asks you “What’s your minimum?” that could be the first step toward becoming a client. But how you respond to the question can go badly if you’re not careful. Many advisors go too low, which implies you will take anybody. Although it’s an accepting and democratic response, it also eliminates any sense of exclusivity. Others will just provide one number, but no one wants to be told flat-out “Sorry, you are too small.”

Here are three surefire ways to approach queries about account sizes.

1. Keep your options open.

“We find we can be of the most value to people with $500,000 in investable assets for the following reasons. …” You mention the small, exclusive size of your clientele. You talk about higher levels of service. These are client benefits.

Why it works: They wanted a number. You gave them one, but you didn’t say you don’t accept clients with lower amounts of assets. You kept your options open.

2. Share combined net worth.

Go beyond investable assets. So for example, it might be people with a combined net worth of $2 million or more. This gets people thinking about the equity in their home, their company pension plan, a life insurance policy’s cash value, and so on.

Why it works: They might have been thinking about a small sum of money they are inheriting, but now you have made it a big-picture conversation.

3. Think inclusive, not exclusive.  

Pull together five numbers: your total number of households, total assets, largest account, smallest account, and average account size. Here’s your answer: “I work with about 200 families. Together they have 200 million dollars with me. The smallest relationship is $250,000 and the largest is five million. The average relationship is about $500,000.”

Why it works: You are inclusive. You’ve given a range. People can see where they fit. Consider three scenarios. The person with $300,000. They are above $250,000. They would fit, but they would be below average. Hopefully they are motivated to bring the account size up to the average. Now you have the person with a million. They are twice your average. When they hear “the largest is five million” the underlying message is: “If you want to run my life as if I was a concierge doctor, you’ll need five million.” The person with five million knows they will be your biggest account, but you’ve worked with large clients already. They won’t be your first big account.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book Captivating the Wealthy Investor can be found on

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