I found a very interesting article on the Web site of American Medical News, published by the American Medical Association, that explains why some practitioners are so much better at building a niche than others. The article, "Medical Societies Roll Out Financial Planning Services," at www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_03/bisb0721.htm, indicates that a number of state medical associations have formed alliances with financial planning firms to help their members find financial advice. The idea is for the state society to do the due diligence to make sure its members will get sound advice.

For example, it is reported that the Wisconsin Medical Society partnered with SVA Planners, a Midwest-based CPA firm, to provide financial planning services to its members. The physicians don't get a discount on services, but the firm was reportedly picked because it has "specialized over their history to primarily work with physicians."

And therein lies the beauty of this idea. If a firm really wants to build a solid niche, It has to look at what most of the targeted potential clients have in common. The referral route is still a favored and lucrative source of new clients. But what should not be overlooked is a connection to the potential clients. Wouldn't it be great for a CPA/financial planner to receive the seal of approval from the state medical society?

One aspect I find interesting is that the state society isn't looking to make money for itself because of the relationship with the financial planner; often, it is not even looking for a discount in fees charged its members. What seems paramount is a desire that the doctors be assured that they will be hooked up with a competent planner. This same rationale could apply to other professional and trade associations.

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