During our time together, I want to share with you why I believe now is the perfect time to attract more affluent clients. I also want to motivate you to take action, using proven, powerful action steps that tomorrow morning you can apply to further become the advisor of choice for the affluent in your local area.
Secret 1: Prepare yourself to work with more affluent clients.
Common to all top-producing financial advisors are several key characteristics. One is that they have high-touch practices. Many advisors communicate with clients 50 to 100 times a year via weekly updates, quarterly meetings and cards marking a birthday, anniversary or other significant event. Once you have acquired an affluent client, there is no such thing as a do-not-call list.
Moving to the next level
Much like a doctor who X-rays a patient when there’s a health issue, it’s important to examine where your practice stands today. What are the profit centers of your business? How much revenue do you need to produce per client? What is your hourly rate? All of this information will help you discern which clients to bring on and keep.
It’s also important to redefine your top clients. Many of you will be familiar with Pareto’s Principle, or the “80/20 rule,” which says that 80% of results come from the top 20% of your clients. But I find the numbers shift from 80/20 to 90/10 for those advisors who specialize in working with the affluent.
Think about the steps you can take to copy and paste the top 10% of your clients to the rest of your business. What minimum level of assets or insurance policy face amount is required to be a top-level client? How high a fee should you charge? In what assets must the client invest? Once you have this information, the next step is to phase out the least profitable clients.
Leveraging your staff
A recent Rydex study shows that financial professionals who spend more than 60% of their time with clients are more productive than those advisors who devote less than 60%. I challenge you to do what I call a time audit. Think about the 2 to 3 key tasks that only you can do, then delegate the rest to hourly staff. You thereby can better leverage your time and attract the people you want as clients.
Also, think about your office as “the dream center.” You should have on the walls artwork or pictures of the coast. Clients can get reality outside of the office. When they come to your office, the pictures on display should spur them to imagine what they can accomplish.
Secret 2: Seek the affluent where they are hiding.
When you focus on the cream of the crop, the crop gets easier to harvest. Research has shown that if you add value to your client relationships, you’re more likely to get referrals. As I like to say, once you add value, then you become valued.
Ask for “situational referrals.” Let’s say you present to the client a strategy that shows how he or she can retire early. At that moment, you’ve added value. You can then say to the client, “There may be other high-level executives like yourself with this same concern. For whom else would you like me to help solve this same problem?”
Contrast this approach with the advisor who asks clients, “Who do you know who can use my services?” What do they often say? “I don’t know anybody.” Well, of course they know some people, but the question is so general they can’t narrow down the request. That’s why asking for situational referrals is more effective.
Partnering with other professionals
In a recent investor survey, financial advisors came in third behind accountants and attorneys as the 2 most trusted relationships of the affluent. Thus, extending your network base to become the advisor of choice, not only for the affluent but also for the accountants and attorneys in your area, will boost your credibility. Affluent clients also appreciate that you’re working in a collaborative, team-based approach.
Using the media
A great way to attract the affluent is by building your credibility through the media. And the key to securing press exposure is to own your space. Think about the career categories of your top-tier clients. Are they mostly engineers, teachers or small-business owners? For whom do they work?
Let’s say that most of your clients are university professors who regularly receive a certain magazine or newsletter that serves their profession. You could approach the publication’s editor and offer to provide a guest column, pointing out that you specialize in the unique financial services needs of educators.
Typically, the editor would welcome the opportunity to help fill magazine space. You can then leverage the guest article to promote yourself as a financial expert to other education professionals. Alternatively, you can convey that you’re available for interviews on financial topics.
Phrasing your niche
I encourage you to create a phrase that describes what you do in a way that stands out. For example, when I hear, “Our expertise is in helping retirees not outlive their money,” I want to know more about that. Each of you can incorporate key words into your sales pitch to promote your unique skills–and make you still more valuable to prospects.
Think about your niche from a medical viewpoint. If you had to have a delicate medical procedure performed, would you see a generalist or specialist? Who typically is more respected? Of course the specialist is, and the same is true of financial professionals who brand themselves as specialists in a certain area.
Secret 3: Become a beacon of hope to the affluent.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the “life planning movement,” whose adherents help people articulate what’s most important to them, not only financially, but also in terms of life goals. To that end, life planners will ask clients such eye-opening questions as: “What is your number one dream?” “What do you like to do on weekends?” Or, “If you could have one day to spend as you wish, how would you use the time? By asking these powerful questions, you open a door to a client’s private world.
When you connect relationally to the client, then and only then can you connect financially. Clients can buy a stock, an insurance policy or an annuity from anybody. What will separate you from other financial advisors is the quality of your relationship with clients and your depth of understanding as to their life goals.
Secret 4: Learn to attract more assets from the affluent.
Recent research shows that 4 out of 5 advisors believe that they manage all of their clients’ assets. We have found, however, that the more money people have, the more advisors they also tend to have. Here’s how that typically breaks: $500,000 to $1 million, one advisor; $2 million to $6 million, 3 or more advisors.
How do you attract more of this wealth? First, dig deep to uncover where all the client’s assets are. Second, focus planning discussions on what clients want to achieve in the second half of their lives. Many of the wealthy, for example, are interested in transitioning out of the rat race before age 59 1/2 . So you might point up planning techniques–and assets you might not otherwise have access to–that would facilitate this objective or else enable the client to work as a part-time consultant.
Secret 5: Insulate and protect your affluent relationships
For high-net-worth clients, more interaction equals more client satisfaction. The maxim sounds simple, yet it often is not practiced. Those of you who are in constant communication with your clients have a healthier client base.
To help systematize communication in your practice, establish an easy-to-do checklist. Consider calling the top quarter of your clients over a month’s time. Or have your staff regularly call those ‘B’ clients you want move into the ‘A’ category. A phone call like, “Hi, Joe asked me to call you. Can we provide anything for you? We were just thinking about you.”
To secure lifelong relationships, define reality for your clients. When a couple comes into your office, you might say, “Joe and Susan, you’re in the affluent client category. That means you’re going to get seminar invitations, calls from brokers and interesting offers for investments that may seem too good to be true. When you receive any of those things, call me and let’s talk about it. I know your entire situation and we can do what’s in your best interest.”
What have you done? You’ve accurately predicted the future for those clients. You’ve now taught them that whenever this happens to them, they should call you. That insulates that relationship.
Work closely with your firm’s compliance department
Compliance is not our enemy, but a friend. Anything you choose to implement based on what I’ve discussed should be run through compliance first. Think of the compliance people as strategic partners who will become more important as issues come up down the road.
You are the financial experts. I challenge you to go back to your offices and implement these strategies. We are in the greatest time of opportunity in the history of our business. Now is your moment of opportunity.