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How to Add New Clients Without Hiring More Staff

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Less than 2% of the job-seeking candidates are interested in positions that involve “rainmaking” or “marketing.”

This is key finding from a recent poll my company did with one of the industry’s leading recruiters, Caleb Brown’s New Planner Recruiting, in which we asked candidates about their attitudes toward the jobs they are seeking.

While you may not be surprised by this figure, the importance of this lack of interest in attracting new advisory clients has been magnified in recent years by the well-documented “talent shortage” in the independent advisory industry.

Simply put, this situation loudly begs the question, who is going to bring in the advisory firm clients of the future? And for most firms, the answer increasingly will be “the firms” themselves.

For most of its 30 or so year history, the independent advisory industry has relied on both referrals from existing clients, and “rainmakers,” who were typically the firm owners, or other senior partners who had a knack for attracting new clients to their firms.

In recent years, the Internet created an explosion in digital ways to reach new and prospective clients. And many advisory businesses have hired Internet-savvy marketing firms to help them compete in this new world.

Yet, in my consulting experience, I’ve found that while “marketing” does help, it doesn’t completely solve the growth problem. It turns out, attracting prospective clients is only half the battle. The other half is converting those “prospects” into clients.

Traditionally, that was also part of the rainmaker’s job: converting prospective clients into real clients. And with fewer advisors expressing any interest in that role, today’s firms are increasingly facing a serious challenge.

The solution is to focus on the “service model.”

This isn’t about “what” services a firm should offer to its clients. That’s only part of the solution. The more important part is how those services are delivered.

In a business without a rainmaker — or even an actual “closer” — the best source of new clients is going to be referrals from existing clients. And the more glowing those referrals are, the better the chance that your “non-rainmaker(s)” will be able to convert them into clients.

This brings us back to service models. Not only do today’s firms need to deliver the “right” services, they must deliver them with the same high quality to every client, every time.

To do that, and to keep on doing it every time for every client, you have to have a very clear “service process.”

To be clear, I’m talking about what each client receives and experiences: from their first phone call to the firm, to the collection of client information, to the discussion of their quarterly portfolio reports, to the implementation of their retirement plan — and every step in between. It’s a complicated process to both document and (re)define.

To get to that level of consistent client service, every owner, partner, and employee of the firm should know exactly what they need to do — and how they need to do it — for each client at every point of their relationship with your firm.

Plus, you’ll need to periodically monitor whether each of these services are being delivered the way you want them to be.

That way, every client’s journey with your firm will be exactly what you want it to be — and what you want them to be talking about with their friends and colleagues. And your new job candidates will know exactly what you want them to do — and how you want them to do it.

In the modern world of financial advice, to grow and keep growing, you have to know who you really are. If you don’t, the talent you need is going to continue leaving you.


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