“The biggest challenge for the advisor is growing and attracting new business,” says Keith Johnson.
Johnson, vice president of practice management at Denver-based managed account provider Curian Capital, notes 49% of respondents said as much in a recent survey. The number hasn’t changed in three years.
“Where do they get most of their leads from? Referrals, obviously,” he adds. “But I feel the days of asking for referrals are over. The advisor shouldn’t have to ask for referrals; he should earn them.”
When asked if marketing budgets are therefore a waste of money, he explains that the resources should be reallocated for better results.
“Client birthday lunches, for instance. Let them invite a few friends. There should be no presentation and no sales pitch. Your job is to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and pay the bill. On the way home, the friends will ask about you, and that is the referral.”
Johnson (right) says fees are based on the quality and type of services offered, and argues that is a distinction from the past. There was a time that advisors were encouraged to switch clients to fees so they could make more money. But money isn’t even an issue for top advisors anymore, he says; it’s about increasing their service value and putting clients first.
“Many advisors care more about their clients’ financial health than do the clients. I’d love to find out who said it first, but price is only an issue in the absence of value.”
With that, Johnson names four areas of focus that can enhance the client experience to gain referrals and grow the business.
1) Trust—Put clients above self, which goes to the advisor’s character
2) Service—Be proactive rather that reactive, which goes to the advisor’s professionalism
3) Value—Provide clear solutions based on client needs, which goes to the advisor’s competence
4) Communicate, communicate, communicate, which goes to the relationship
Since top advisors do it every day, they might not realize the full extent of the value they provide to clients, he concludes, noting it’s almost “second nature.”
“They help clients get organized, set goals and investigate areas of their financial lives about which many clients don’t even know.”
Read 5 Tips for a Successful Referral Request on AdvisorOne.