Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Three Steps to Starting a Retirement-Plan Advice Practice

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It took me over 13 years to figure out the ultimate retirement plan advice prospecting process.  I am happy to save you the same amount of time.

In a previous blog post on AdvisorOne, I wrote about how a simple phone conversation with a client over 13 years ago subsequently lead to the growth and development of a major part of my current investment advisory practice.

At the time I started to build an individual company retirement plan advice niche, I did not pay any attention to who I called or what I said.  Years later I now realize that each of the three classic prospecting steps I followed can be replicated by any other advisor.

All three of my prospecting steps listed below take advantage of existing client relationships. Ask a selected group of your existing clients for their interest in your advice to help better manage their individual company retirement plan account. You will be amazed at the response!

The first step in the development of an individual company retirement plan advice niche begins with one of Bill Good’s greatest telephone-prospecting strategies.  That strategy is to put together a prospecting list together “on which word of mouth can occur.”

I received exactly zero prospecting training from the local brokerage firm that first hired me in 1984.  For that reason, I read every month the Bill Good prospecting column in Research Magazine.  Neither of us knew it then, but Bill Good was my first sales manager in the securities business.

I began prospecting the law firms, doctor’s groups, and Fortune 500 companies where my existing clients worked 13 years ago.  And I have kept doing it ever since. I now have dozens of individual company retirement plan advice clients at a small handful of private and public companies in my local market.

The second step in the development of a retirement plan advice business is to ask for the company retirement plan menus of your best clients.

I call this step the “misery loves company” part of my retirement plan advice telephone prospecting program. Non-performance over a long period of time in a company retirement plan offering will sooner-or-later be a topic of discussion and frustration within a company community.

What do people talk about at work?  Kids, school, weather, vacations, losing money in their company retirement plan account….all the important life events, right?

A copy of a company retirement plan menu will elevate you as an expert source of independent, third-party information regarding the company retirement plan menu of options. Immediately, you become the best source of investment advice and analysis on the company retirement plan menu that an individual prospect at that company will ever talk to. 

Have you ever had a difficult time gaining referrals from long-time clients?  With a copy of the company retirement plan menu, you will never need to ask for a referral again. Everyone that works at the same company as your client becomes a prospect for your individual company retirement plan advice offering.

How confident do you think you will sound on the telephone prospecting call when you have knowledge of the company retirement plan menu of the prospect you are calling?

The third step in the development of a retirement plan advice niche prospecting process is to put together a list of all the professionals that your existing clients know at other similar companies. High school friends, college buddies or graduate school classmates should all fall into the same prospecting list you are building.

Lawyers know other lawyers. The same can be said about doctors, health care administrators, or engineers. In my experience, all I have ever asked a client is, “Do you know so-and-so at such-and-such company?” Clients will go out of their way to become a great source of prospect information.

My individual company retirement plan advice clients are all-to-happy to provide me the name of other professionals they know who are likely to have similar investment management problems regarding their company retirement plan accounts.

When I call these referrals and explain to them the company retirement plan investment advice work that I provide for my client, it makes my existing client look great in the eyes of the prospect.

My existing retirement plan advice client has a logical, organized and discipline investment management game plan for the assets in his or her company retirement plan account.  The prospect I call more than likely does not.  Have the chances increased that the prospect wants to listen to the reason my existing client told me to call?

Put these three key steps together with the help of your existing clients in order to build an individual company retirement plan advice niche for your advisory practice.


Ric Lager is founder of Lager & Company, Inc, co-creator of the “No More Pies” investment series for financial advisors and author of “Forget the Pie: Recipe for a Healthier 401(k).”