“Thars gold in them thar hills!” You still can almost hear the echo of those words shouted over 100 years ago as miners young and old struck out to find their fortune. Just as each miner had his favorite “spots,” favorite “pans,” and tools of the trade, so, too, do financial advisors.
As a financial advisor myself for almost two decades and now someone who sells wealth planning technology to financial advisors everyday, I have come to learn that were still all miners at heart. The good news is that we now have a whole host of opportunities for prospecting. There are some new twists on old standbys, as well as some innovative methods that are attracting a more tech-savvy breed of client. Below are some of my favorites.
Old Tried and True. Ive heard it time and time again. Start with who you know and go from there. Cultivating your network can take time, but it is time well spent. Tap into your personal network of family and friends. Then, work at expanding your network through your kids, your church or even your yoga class. If you are just starting, it also doesnt hurt to give away some “freebies” in order to build your references.
Appreciate Your Client. Host a client appreciation night and invite an outside speaker. Have all of your clients bring two friends who might be interested. The speaker can talk about topics ranging from retirement planning to charitable giving as a technique for estate planning. No matter what the topic, make it relevant for your clients and their friendsand dont forget good food and beverages.
Sponsor Something. Everybody likes a sponsor, especially if its for something that has to do with kids. You get to have your logo all over the place, and its a great way to target certain markets. For example, women often are reluctant to refer financial services to other women. Yet, all types of women congregate around the soccer fields every afternoon and weekend. Get out there and get your name and logo on a couple of T-shirts and show up on Saturday with hot coffee and donuts. Youll become known and appreciated for your thoughtfulness, as well as your financial support of their kids soccer teama great introduction to your merits as a financial advisor!
Join Something. People who join clubs, charities and other associations are connectors and influencersthat is, they like to meet people and introduce them to others. They influence their friends and acquaintances on everything from the latest book to the latest investment. You need to meet these people because these are the people that can help you be successful. By joining outside organizations and getting to know connectors and influencers, you will find a whole new referral baseand just might have some fun along the way.
Get Techy. There are great gadgets out there that can be very attractive to certain technology-savvy clients. For example, consider using a large, flat plasma screen to show prospects real-time planning techniques and what-if scenarios based on some basic information gathered prior to the meeting. On the big screen, the prospect sees immediately the benefits of things like account aggregation, updated balances and side-by-side scenarios of different planning techniques. Technology and techniques like these can cut in half the sales cycle for high-end planning, while increasing assets under management.
Be an ally. Alliances can come in all shapes and flavors, and there are plenty of potential partners for an advisor, including CPAs, banks and tax attorneys. For example, consider using alliances with banks to build your practice. A bank is a tremendous reference for those clients that need financial planning, and most banks are looking for non-interest revenues. If your firm is large enough, consider putting an advisor on-site at the branch. Both the bank employees and bank clients will get to know the advisor and, over time, this should be an excellent source of referrals and new business.
Get Graphic. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a short flash “video” is probably worth ten thousand! Consider developing customized CDs as direct mail pieces and as handouts after a short meeting or introduction. Your potential clients will be engaged by the sound and graphics, and the CD will really stand out from your competitors materials.
Get Specific. Everybody likes to work with experts. Become an expert on a particular market. Focus on women or athletes or the ultra-high-net-worth client. Show them that you understand their needs and challenges and that you have the solution. Take professional athletes, for example. They have a limited time for their career and tremendous travel and personal demands. Develop (or buy) a solution that provides athletes with the organization and access they need and allows collaboration with their sports managers, other advisors and family members. Theyll relate and youll get new business.
While not everyone struck gold during the gold rush, advisors today have a much better chance of building a profitable client base. We have better tools and a bigger, more visible opportunity. Hard work, persistence and a little guerrilla marketing should go a long way to helping you find your gold.
is CEO of eMoney Advisor, a wealth planning and management solutions firm based in Conshohocken, Pa. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 7, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.