Knowing how to generate a continuous flow of high-quality referrals is among the most important marketing challenges any advisor faces. The results of a 2012 survey of financial advisors by research firm CEG Worldwide offer some interesting insights on the matter:

The top five sources of professional referrals:

  1. Accountants: 68 percent
  2. Estate planning attorneys: 61 percent
  3. Life insurance specialists: 35 percent
  4. Mortgage brokers: 29 percent
  5. Personal property and casualty agents: 12 percent

What were the sources of all referrals?

  • Professional connections: 54.2 percent
  • Clients: 30.1 percent
  • Seminars/conferences: 13.5 percent

Number of client referrals received each year (by advisor income group):

Moderate-income advisors:

  • 26.7 percent received 3-5 referrals
  • 12.3 percent received 6+ referrals

Middle-income advisors:

  • 44.0 percent received 3-5 referrals
  • 11.2 percent received 6+ referrals

High-income advisors:

  • 23.1 percent received 3-5 referrals
  • 29.2 percent received 6+ referrals

How many clients did respondents have?

Moderate-income advisors:

  • 21.2 percent had 150-299 clients
  • 20.0 percent had 300+ clients

Middle-income advisors:

  • 30.4 percent had 150-299 clients
  • 33.2 percent had 300+ clients

High-income advisors:

  • 35.1 percent had 150-299 clients
  • 36.5 percent had 300+ clients

It may come as no surprise that the most successful advisors had the greatest number of clients and referrals, giving them the greatest likelihood of falling into the high-income ($500,000 or more per year) group.

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Nick Ray is a business coach who specializes in working with financial services professionals. He is the author of There’s More to Selling than Making the Sale as well as a workbook on target marketing. He can be reached at nick@coachnickray.com.