NEW YORK -- Non-traditional families can be a profitable niche for advisors, if they know how to market themselves.

Jennifer Hatch, a managing partner at Christopher Street Financial, a fee-based advisory firm that focuses on gay and lesbian couples, told advisors at the Women Advisors Forum on Wednesday that having specialized expertise is critical to gaining clients.

Over the last five years, the firm has more than doubled in assets and revenues, and currently manages $275 million, she said. Hatch said that having the ADPA or accredited domestic partner advisor designation helps advisors understand the different set of rules that apply to same-sex couples.  

Stacy Francis, president of Francis Financial, a fee-only firm with a strong focus on single women, noted that the CDFA or certified divorced financial analyst designation has been helpful for business.  The firm increased its assets under management 9% last year and assets rose 55% the year before that. The growth in assets, she said, came from the “divorce piece.”

“In the last three years, we’ve been getting more and more divorce work and it’s phenomenally challenging and exciting and wonderful for the bottom line too,” Francis said.

The designations alone are not enough to build a business in this specialized niche, however. Both Hatch and Francis encouraged advisors to work their centers of influence to gain clients. Francis worked closely with “enlightened” matrimonial lawyers as well as mediators. She also encouraged advisors to build a good web site and to develop relationships with the press, she said.

“Your natural community is ultimately where you get clients,” added Hatch. One of the ways she promotes her firm is by conducting webinars and teaching seminars at an organization called Family Equality Council.