From the February 2010 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Aiming High

Get started on high-net-worth prospecting.

The Holy Grail among many firms' coaches, seers, and gurus, not to mention FAs, is the high-net-worth (HNW) investor.

With a wealthier clientele, other things being equal (the universal disclaimer we all learned in Econ 101), you will make more money and experience less stress if you have $100 million AUM with 100 families, versus that same $100 million with 500 families.

With the larger clientele, you need a bigger team. That requires more space, more postage, more meetings, less golf.

For this reason, as you ratchet yourself up the net worth scale, the competition scales up as well, probably geometrically.

To give you an idea of why the competition is so intense, I asked Marcia Glasser, president of CIS Marketing, the premier list brokerage firm in the U.S., to compile a count of identifiable households with an estimated $1 million-$5 million net worth.

Assuming there are 200,000 RIAs and FAs competing for these clients, that's 22 HNW clients per FA to go around.

With all this said to discourage you from pursuing this market, let me also say this: it is possible to crack this marketplace. People are doing it daily. Why not you?

The place to start in your mission to crack into the high-net-worth market is building a list like no other you have ever built. You can order a list of "high-net-worth" investors from CIS (www.cismarketing.com). But that's just the starting point. If you want to get into the high-net-worth sector of the market, you now need to begin researching the names you buy AND developing your own names. Each name on your HNW list needs to be hand-selected. Buying a list gives you some publicly identifiable names to start with.

The first stop on my list development itinerary would be a phone call to CIS to have a conversation with Marcia. I've known her for years. She knows more about the financial services market place than anyone I've spoken with. She knows your market better than you do. Call her at 800-547-LIST.

Next stop: the county tax assessor's office. You want a basic course in how to understand the records. Property tax records are matters of public record. They are probably online. But I would still go down there and get some help. Look up yourself. Look up your neighbors. Among other things, you want to see if the "tax billing address" is a public record. And you really want to see if you can view an alphabetical listing of property owners. What you are looking for here is something like:

  • Aames, Adam 406 South Church Street, Ditchwater UT
  • Aames, Adam 511 East North Street, Ditchwater UT
  • Aames, Adam, 656 South East Street, Ditchwater UT.

Our friend Adam Aames owns multiple pieces of property. He might be real estate poor, but you can get an idea by identifying his personal residence, Googling him and following some of the other steps below to see if he is someone you want to add to your list.

My second stop is Google Maps (maps.google.com). If you live in a major metro area, you can see a photo of Adam's house. I want to see what kind of house Adam lives in, and what kind of properties he owns. Maybe I don't like the properties he owns. Toss him. You are developing a list of people you WANT to do business with. Using a screen capture tool like SnagIt, you can cut out the picture of Adam's house, print it or save it electronically so you can refer back to it when you ultimately get an appointment with Adam.

Now I'm going to research Adam. Naturally, I will Google, "Adam Aames Ditchwater UT." I might also check "Adam Aames Facebook" and "Adam Aames Twitter." If Adam is there, this will find him.

Then I would probably check PIPL.com. This searches the so-called "deep web," documents in online databases not generally accessible to the search engine crawlers. If Adam ever posted a public wish list on Amazon, it might show up here. If he was ever involved in a lawsuit, or has a Linked-in profile, you will find him here.

Why do all this? Because somewhere in this morass of data is a way to contact Adam.

Let's say you learn that Adam is CEO of Aames and Company, Importers. You have seen their trucks around town. They are new and always clean. You really want him as a client.

On his Web site, you read, "Adam co-founded the company with Harvey Wallbanger in 1985. In 2003, Mr. Wallbanger sold his interest to Adam to pursue his love of golf."

"Harvey Wallbanger??? I know his son." You went to school together, and run into each other in the country club, even playing an occasional round of golf. The question now is: Can we get Harvey Jr. to introduce us to Harvey Sr.? Naturally, after just a little research, Harvey Sr. gets added to our list.

For the most part, you need to be introduced into this market. The information you collect will, in many cases, give you the channel to make contact.

No Intro?

What if you can't get an introduction? You have two choices:

High-end seminars . Countless gurus have said you cannot mass-market to the high-net-worth and especially the ultra-high-net-worth market. They are wrong.

Cold call. Oh, cold calling is dead, you say? Well, I know people who are not aware of that. I know one FA who hired a caller to only call the wealthiest area of his city. From a standing start, this built a million-dollar business in three years. I know of another operation working all over the country, jumping all over news events indicating money in motion. They're going after the ultra high-net-worth market. One of the people involved in this told me, "Bill, keep referring people to those books that talk about how cold calling doesn't work."

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