We are in a people business. It's not just about investments, returns and portfolios.
Financial advisors have been told this for years. Build your business on a foundation of trusting relationships. Connect with your clients and prospects on multiple levels and those relationships will survive the vicissitudes of the markets.
Depending on where you get your advice, you should average 12-36 touches with each of your clients per year. Having worked with independent financial advisors for over 20 years, I know these things to be true.
Last week, I had the privilege of speaking with Tom McCarthy, an advisor from Marysville, Ohio, about his business building strategies. His story is relevant, in that he has consistently embraced the people side of the business. In addition, he has found a fresh, new way to connect with clients and build those all important bonds. Adopting his "LifeBio Event" idea could enhance your practice, too.
The Patient Gardener
Tom is a Certified Financial Planner(TM) professional who specializes in retirement and estate planning. Tom has been in the financial services business for 13 years, first selling insurance and, since 2003, working as a fee-based financial planner, in a small town in Ohio.
He is the founder of McCarthy & Cox , an independent financial services firm dedicated to helping families pursue and maintain their financial independence. The firm serves about 360 clients and has roughly $100M assets under management.
Tom's broker/dealer is Commonwealth Financial Network, with whom he is well pleased and relies on for financial technology, compliance services, investment research and other practice management support.
Tom and his family, including parents and grandparents, have called the Marysville community home for generations. He is well known in town and says he has built his business "one client at a time".
Tom develops his business through seminars, client events and above all, through personal client service. He has found that getting more business from existing clients is the most effective way to grow. Clients, with whom he has developed trusting relationships, tend to send him more and more of their business.
The LifeBio Event
Recently, Tom's firm hosted a client appreciation event that epitomizes the value of the human touch aspect of business development and retention.
In September, Tom and his partner, Jim Cox, extended personal invitations to about 15 of their best clients to a special mid-week luncheon event that was held in October. They asked the clients to bring their adult children, their appetite, and open mind – and hinted that they were going to receive a gift. No printed invitations. No emails. No mailings.
Typical of Tom, he viewed the personal invitation process as an opportunity to build client relationships. Invitations were made in person, during routine meetings or community encounters, and confirmed with follow-up phone calls.
The venue was unique. It was held in an Amish farmhouse, in the country, outside town. Tom said the feeling of the place was wholesome like a "Norman Rockwell" illustration, cozy and inviting with a simple, unrushed atmosphere.
Think of having lunch at Grandma's house. The air was full of the smell of food being cooked from scratch. The lunch was all homemade: roast beef and gravy, baked chicken, fresh green beans, warm dinner rolls and handmade noodles – with fresh baked pies cooling by the windows for dessert.
The group gathered in a large room before the meal, at 11:00 a.m., the sounds and aromas of farmhouse all around them. Tom intentionally planned on serving lunch after the planned presentation, at 12:00. He wanted his guests to enjoy the aromas and setting while the presentation took place. As people took their seats, conversation bubbled up.
"This reminds me of Sunday dinner at grandma's house," said one client. "I remember eating homemade chicken and dumplings with my family in Colorado," said another. Just being in the room made people feel nostalgic.
Tom then introduced Beth Sanders. Beth's company has developed practical tools that make the creation of an autobiography easy, enduring and a joy. LifeBio's proven turnkey approach helps advisors build genuine relationships and preserve priceless memories.
In his introduction, Tom reminded his clients and guests that leaving a legacy was about more than money, that they needed to consider all of their assets, monetary and otherwise. He said that each person is precious, that each person's life story is unique, amazing and worth sharing.