With so many strategies and schools of thought out there on how to generate new (and returning) clients, building one’s book of business can seem like a daunting task. Lead generation is not just about investing time and effort while providing as much value as possible—it’s also about making sure your value is conveyed up-front. Otherwise, your message is falling on deaf ears. Take a look at how these three advisors have generated more business by investing in their current clients, covering all the planning bases, and partnering with pivotal centers of influence.
Retention brings acquisition
For Michael Morrow, CFP, of Morrow Financial in Ontario, Canada, focusing on current clientele is the best way to keep his business growing. Ninety percent of his efforts go to looking after his clients, which he says keeps his retention rate high and brings in referrals. “If I improve my client retention from 97 percent to 98 percent this year,” Morrow says, “that means I lost 1 percent fewer clients this year. In 10 years, that is 10 percent fewer that I didn’t need to replace.”
“Early in my career, I realized I needed to do something that would make me stand out from every other advisor. I knew I had to build my brand, but more importantly, I had to find ways to foster loyalty with my client base,” says Morrow, who’s been in the industry for 25 years.
“The easy things to do are the easy things not to do,” Morrow says. “Take the best golfers in the world. Twenty-six percent of their shots are drives, while 46 percent of their shots are putts. Yet when you go to a golf course, nobody’s practicing their putting, even though half of their time on the course is spent putting.” The putts—those simple, easy things—could be the difference between a client who leaves and a client who stays. Take two minutes to send a thank you card, a thoughtful gift, or an e-newsletter with something simple and of interest to your clients, he says.
To stay top-of-mind, Morrow employs a strategic call rotation. “Our top clients receive a call every three months and at least two client appointments per year; other clients receive a call every six months, at the very least. It doesn’t hurt anybody to pick up the phone for 10 minutes twice a year,” he says.
You’re always going to have clients leave, Morrow says. Most of the time, they leave because they started out happy but didn’t stay that way. “Is it easier to go out and replace your clients,” Morrow asks, “or is it easier to try extra hard to slow down the rate at which they leave?”
How does an advisor lose clients? By making lofty promises that are hard to keep, says Morrow. “If I call you all the time and say that I’m going to make you tons of money, I’m just setting you up to be disappointed. By overpromising, I underperform.” Not keeping promises also applies to basic courtesies like not showing up on time, he says. “You build trust by being consistent. Ultimately, what people are buying is trust and confidence, Morrow adds, and you can keep them around by showing up on time, being dependable, doing the things you say you’re going to do, and finishing what you start.
The holistic picture
While holistic planning means different things to different advisors, Jeff Warnkin, CPA, CFP of Avon, Ohio, says it involves integrated planning so that “the clients don’t have to go to four or five different professionals and get all sorts of potentially conflicting advice.” Warnkin, alongside his colleagues at The JL Smith Group, offers tax preparation as well as Medicare Supplement assistance to his clients, which in turn creates leads for his retirement and financial planning practice.
Twenty years ago, when Warnkin left public accounting to hang out his shingle as a tax preparer, he noticed his clients would open up to him with questions about their finances. “There was a disconnect between all of these disciplines—investments, legal, accounting. We’re all working in our own fox holes. The client isn’t best-served in the manner in which financial services are often being delivered,” he adds. “So that’s when I got my securities license, got my insurance license, and started bringing in attorneys to review legal documents.” Two decades later, Warnkin is sold on providing holistic service for his clients.
Warnkin, who works with retirees and pre-retirees, believes that marketing systems have to be profit-centers. “You’ve got people out there who are spending $200,000 or more a year on seminars,” he says. “When you put that kind of money out, you must sell something to recoup your cost. To me, that’s not a healthy way to operate a practice.”