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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Featured Biz Question

Since my background is in accounting and finance, I'd like to broaden my horizons and become an individual financial analyst. I truly enjoy the aspect of revenue and expense performance budget vs. actual. What I'm interested in knowing, however, is how all you financial analysts out there got your start as an independent analyst. How did you get your first client? What aspect is your specialty? How did you market to your target audience? If you would, please respond. Thank you for your time.

Answer from our Guest Expert Peter Soh of

Well, take it from me, becoming an independent finance service provider can be a tough road to hoe sometimes. How bumpy or smooth your road will be, however, depends greatly on what you want to accomplish. Here are some checklist questions I've created for you to chew over. Perhaps they will help you make some of your start-up decisions.

Which Type of Customer Will You Target?

To begin, establish a net worth target for individuals. Get a feel for what type of services certain prospective clients require, and how much they can afford to pay. Individuals or companies who make $30K have different financial needs and strategies than those who make $1M.

You'll find that individuals with less financial resources will pay you less because they can't afford all of your services, but they may require certain sophisticated services like tax planning and insurance. To meet their needs, you can make an alliance with a large financial service company (like SunAmerica or AMEX) who can meet the needs of these individuals and you might still get a referral fee. By investigating what financial needs and services certain companies crave, you can better decide which services to offer, how much to charge, and which services to refer to other firms.

For large net worth individuals, consider your resources carefully. You're competing with larger financial firms to win these clients, and your only advantage may be based on a referral or an unique relationship with the customer. These clients will expect a lot from you and want you to be an expert in many areas. Don't fall into this trap! One person can only know and do so much. So my tip to you: build a network of resources to give your client the best advice. (continued)

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About the Expert

Peter C. Soh
Owner of
Peter is a savvy certified public accountant dedicated to helping startups. He is a small business advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration and teaches "How to Start Your Business" seminars. more