Conventional models of clientelism often assume poor voters have little or no choice over which local broker to turn to for help. Yet communities in many clientelistic settings are marked by multiple brokers who compete for a following. Such competition makes client choices, and the preferences guiding such choices, pivotal in fueling broker support. We examine client preferences for a pervasive broker—slum leaders—in the context of urban India. To identify resident preferences for slum leaders, we conducted an ethnographically informed conjoint survey experiment with 2,199 residents across 110 slums in two Indian cities. Contra standard emphases on shared ethnicity, we find residents place heaviest weight on a broker's capability to make claims on the state. A survey of 629 slum leaders finds client-preferred traits distinguish brokers from residents. In highlighting processes of broker selection, and the client preferences that undergird them, we underscore the centrality of clients in shaping local brokerage environments.