When Lindsey Swanson came up with the name of her financial advisory firm, she knew there might be some who misinterpreted the message, but her goal was to ensure the target market saw it as a safe and welcoming place.
Thus, Stripper Financial Planning was born.
“I’m not worried about people thinking I’m a stripper,” she said. “I could have chosen a name that was more vague, but I don’t want people to have to look in the fine print to know if they are welcome. I want to be very in your face.”
Swanson, 28, launched her niche advisory practice a little over a year ago from her home base in Humboldt, California, where she’s building a diverse and growing clientele made up of the kind of individuals who often feel stigmatized and overlooked by more traditional wealth management firms.
In her previous job, as a financial adviser at Great Lakes Investment Management, Swanson dabbled in creating a niche among people working in the cannabis industry, which led her in a roundabout way to adult entertainers.
While a lot of financial advisers turn to niche markets to stand out from the crowd of generalists, Swanson was driven by frustrations about the way the wealth management industry uses “gates” to keep out people who don’t have a lot of money.
“I’ve always wanted to work with stigmatized groups that aren’t being served by the wealth management industry,” she said. “I really wanted to work with a group of individuals that no one wanted to work with.”
Swanson’s current client base is small and diverse across what she defines as the adult entertainment industry. She describes them as “porn stars” who create content on various online platforms, as well as erotic dancers and escorts.
She said she won’t work with clients who are earning money by breaking the law, but she also recognizes the various nuances of her policy.
“The parameters are that they have to be working legally and reporting their income,” Swanson said, acknowledging that adult entertainment laws can vary by jurisdiction.
“Being an escort is legal, assuming there is more to the service than just sex,” she added.
Like a lot of niche markets, adult entertainers make up their own subculture, which Swanson strives to tap into as she builds her business. But unlike most other niche categories, Swanson said many of her clients keep their work deliberately separate from their personal and family lives, which can impede the traditional referral channels for finding accountants, lawyers, and financial advisers.
“A lot of times these people are living double lives, and everything they don’t feel comfortable asking their family and friends, they ask Google,” she said.
With that in mind, Swanson designed her website for maximum search engine optimization, which she closely monitors and constantly tweaks.
“I’m making myself known out there,” she said. “The market exists, so I need to make the market know I exist.”
True to her mission of not putting up gates that restrict potential clients, Swanson describes herself as an “advice-only adviser” who doesn’t manage assets and therefore doesn’t charge any asset-based fees. Instead, she charges a flat monthly fee of $350.
“I came up with $350 because I looked at the numbers internally and externally, and it’s a competitive rate,” she said. “I plan to grow the business, so I looked at what I need to charge based on what I need to earn.”
On her website, which is far from garden variety wealth management of old, Swanson states that she plans to increase her rates by 3% annually “to keep up with inflation.”
While she isn’t building portfolios for clients, Swanson said she will direct clients to such services if needed.
“For the most part, these are business owners that have 1099 income,” she said. “They need to pay estimated taxes and keep track of expenses. They need lawyers and CPAs. But being in a stigmatized group, they don’t feel comfortable working with other professionals, but they need professionals they can lean on that won’t be judgmental. There’s an image of a stripper as someone down on their luck, and this was their last choice. But a lot of times these people are very business savvy.”