Managing Client Relationships With the Rule of 150

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Maintaining quality client relationships is paramount to success for a financial advisor team. As advisors expand their clientele, they often face the challenge of providing personalized service while managing a growing number of accounts. At Supernova Consulting, we have a developed process built around what is known as Dunbar’s Number.

The "Rule of 150," or Dunbar’s Number, popularized by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, suggests that individuals can effectively maintain only about 150 stable relationships. Applying this principle to financial advising can help advisors manage their client networks more efficiently.

The Rule of 150 is based on the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships – relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. For financial advisors, this rule can be interpreted to mean that managing beyond 150 client relationships may compromise the quality of service and attention each client receives. At that point clients end up being customers that can ruin your brand.

When advisors take on the clientele of another financial advisor – perhaps due to a merger, acquisition, or retirement – they might find themselves managing well over the suggested 150 relationships. This can lead to several challenges: