Forming professional relationships with CPAs, estate planning attorneys, tax attorneys or anyone else you want to throw into the mix can be exponentially profitable for your business and theirs. In an industry that thrives on referrals, what better way to increase your client base than through other professionals who have already established trusting relationships with their clients? Through these alliances, trust is transferred, making your job easier and increasing client satisfaction all around.
But where do you even begin this process? How do you meet these sorts of professionals? How do you establish trust? And how in the heck does it work with commissions?
Seminars, marketing campaigns, cold calling, direct mail and door-to-door visits are all ways you can make new clients – some more painstaking than others. But in such a competitive industry, you have to ask yourself, “Is it worth my time and money?” If it’s not, then what is?
All of these methods have one thing in common, says Lee Hyder, president and founder of Lee Hyder & Associates in Akron, Ohio. “They all attempt to take a cold prospect and turn them into a client.
“True profitability in today’s market will come when you are able to align yourself with other professionals who you do not compete with, but who share the same demographics in your client databases, such as CPAs, attorneys, and property and casualty agents. By working with these people, you not only enhance the professional’s credibility with his clients by offering services he currently does not offer, but, more importantly, you immediately pick up an endless supply of prospects who give you respect without reservations, due to the respect they have for their advisor who has made the introduction for you.”
In fact, most advisors seem to agree with Hyder’s assessment. Catie Fitzgerald, founder of Financially Savvy, a Henderson, Nev.-based company that conducts public seminars and one-on-one coaching to help investors gain confidence in making their own financial decisions, is one.
Fitzgerald says the advantages to forming professional alliances can be narrowed down to three distinct things: You deepen the relationships with your clients, you save time building your business and you expand your knowledge. Your clients will look at you as the resource they turn to first for all matters concerning their finances, she explains.
But if your clients regard you as a financial resource at their disposal any time they need you, isn’t this time consuming? Do you really want to get caught up in helping them with financial matters that don’t concern you? The answer to these questions is a resounding “yes.”
Janine Wertheim, chief marketing officer of Securities America, breaks it down into dollars and cents. The advisors at her company that form relationships specifically with CPAs “are able to attract a higher-net-worth client,” she says. “These clients have high-end planning needs and bring with them higher assets under management.”
And that says it all.
CPAs, estate planning attorneys, tax attorneys, realtors, local businesses? Where do you draw the line? The key is to affiliate yourself with professionals who are not competitors.
C.J. Brott, founder and president of Capital Ideas, a registered investment advisor, specifically likes to work with CPAs who specialize in taxes and small business and estate planning attorneys. He chooses to work with them because they’re not typically interested in selling financial products and therefore do not present competition. As far as estate planners go, Brott recognizes that they often need a trusted financial advisor to help with the transfer of capital – often large sums.
“Estate attorneys are an excellent source of potential referrals,” Brott says, “and because a large number of our potential clients are experiencing life changes, such as recent death of a spouse or retirement, they find themselves in need of a good lawyer, and this makes for a good two way street.”
But finding professional affiliates is not simply a matter of flipping through the Yellow Pages and calling the first guy whose name begins with “A.” You have to weed out the prospects who don’t share your ethics, your values and your goals. And let’s be honest, no one wants to work with the stereotypical used car salesman. You need to align yourself with people like you.