The Push To Get Referrals From Accountants And Attorneys
By Russ Alan Prince and Arthur A. Bavelas
The open secret in the life insurance business is that lawyers and accountants are an optimal way to get large cases. Most producers know that a great way to get new wealthy clients is to have them referred by one of these professionals, who can be exceptional referral sources.
But there is also a real secret, and that is actually making this referral stream open up. The secret most producers do not know, but want to know, is how to start obtaining referrals from accountants and lawyers, and, more importantly, how to keep the flow of referrals going.
In this article we are going to explore the level of interest among life insurance producers in creating a sustainable referral stream from accountants and attorneys, and the effectiveness of institutional support.
Producer Motivation. Producers are strongly motivated to open up a new channel of referrals, and especially keen on developing strategic relationships with accountants and attorneys. In a study of 716 producers, 81.6% of them are “very” or “extremely” interested in garnering affluent client referrals from lawyers and accountants.
What is clear is that there are many producers who want to befriend lawyers and accountants in order to create a pipeline of new wealthy clients for their practice.
This interest is especially strong because other forms of new client generation are proving increasingly ineffective. Cold calling is not as viable as it once was. Seminars and workshops do not pull in new prospects the way they used to. Many of the tried-and-true ways of generating a new client flow do not work as well for producers these days. That explains the considerable interest in new referral sources like accountants and attorneys.
The Role of Institutions. Producers are not the only ones to sense the opportunity here. Financial institutions have also recognized the importance of lawyers and accountants as a referral source for their producers (see Exhibit 2). Not only are they aware of the opportunity, they have already created marketing programs for producers to use. In fact, nearly all the life insurance companies we examined (92.3%) already have developed a formal accountant and/or lawyer referral program for their producers. Just 7.7% do not have a program in place.
This is a significant institutional response. Creating a marketing support program takes a significant investment of time, expertise and financial resources. The broad participation of institutions in developing attorney and accountant referral programs signifies a general industry consensus on their strategic importance.
However, the existence of these programs does not mean they are excellent. In fact, the consensus among life insurance producers is that the marketing programs for developing referrals among accountants and attorneys are flawed.