If growing your practice is at the top of your list of goals for 2016, you’re in good company. Most advisors know that significant gains don’t just occur by chance.
Sure, after the first few years of building a practice, annual growth may seem to be advancing. But in the face of increasingly tough competition and ever-changing environments, whether you are an advisor with a comfortable-sized rolodex or a business owner with incremental growth, you will be challenged to get to the ‘next level’ if you don’t have a clear commitment to driving it there and doing it now.
The fact is that true growth occurs through a strategic and disciplined approach. Fortunately, one of the keys to driving your success inherently stems from who you know and with whom you surround yourself.
Beyond all the marketing strategies and tools that may be available to you, a relationship-centric growth model — something that you are probably very familiar with as an advisor — can be the center of your plan. This means working to deepen the relationships you currently have and continuing to create new connections with an eye toward future opportunity.
According to FINRA, in 2010 there were just over 230,000 registered representatives in the United States and in the last five years that number has increased by nearly 12,000. This progressive increase coupled with the steady climb in the number of retired baby boomers means that now, more than ever, it is important for advisors to standout from competitors in meaningful ways. Drawing on what you know about the importance of financial planning, and sharing your perspectives through stories and insights, can enable you to make personal connections, which can be a very distinctive source for success.
So, we asked five financial advisors and executives on how to develop those client relationships. The following are five tips to grow your business by building and leveraging those relationships.
1. Be selective when bringing on new clientele
“If you’ve set your sights on growing your portfolio in 2016, it may seem like a good strategy to take on any client that comes your way. Enjoyable, sustainable and palatable growth cannot be achieved by forcing client relationships that aren’t truly a good fit. Doing this may even damage the client experience you provide as a whole.
“Instead, seek out clients with high integrity who are pleasant to be with and who are appreciative of the work you do for them. It’s your job as an advisor to value each and every relationship, and make every client feel as if they are your only client.
“This kind of attention will not go unnoticed, and over time you will begin to gain valuable referrals. The importance of quality over quantity couldn’t ring truer.
“At my practice, when we sit down as a team to plan for the year ahead, we don’t write any numbers down. Our goal is to make the year ahead as enjoyable as we can for everyone involved.”
- Peter Maller, founder and president of Maller Wealth Advisors, registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors
2. With existing clients, be the person they always turn to
“My advice to new advisors who ask me about the secret to my success is to simply be honest with clients — put them first every time and never vary from that. It’s not the ‘sexy’ or complex answer they’re usually expecting, but a client’s trust is the most important factor in a strong, lasting relationship.
“The stepping stone to building this trust is ongoing contact. Before taking a new client on, I ask each of them to agree to meet with me twice a year.
“This means more work for me and my staff, but the time and effort we devote is worth it when the result is a strong bond. From there I ask to be involved in every facet of a client’s financial life.
“In addition to helping them with investments, if they’re shopping for a mortgage or auto loan, they know that I can connect them with the people who have competitive rates and provide quality service.
“Being the person a client can turn to for anything, makes you the advisor they will stay with for life.”
- Mark Rychel, founding partner of BCR Financial Services, registered representative of Lincoln Financial Securities
3. Make connections that lead to growth
“You may not be ready to grow your practice through acquisitions this year, or even next year. However, the connections you make now could lead to this type of organic growth when you’re ready.
“I’ve acquired a total of four practices since 1995, but I like to refer to them as saying I helped four friends retire. I developed relationships with each of these senior advisors over the years, and when it came time for them to wind down, they sold to me because they trusted me and knew I would take care of their clients.
“This year, take the time to get to know senior advisors with whom you have something in common. You could find one or many mentors, but your practice could also some day benefit from the connections you make today.”