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Now Is the Time to Strengthen Relationships, Get New Clients

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The COVID-19 pandemic represents a perfect time for advisors to strengthen relationships with their existing clients and reach out to new prospects to grow their businesses, according to industry experts who spoke Wednesday during the Virtual Financial Advisor Summit.

This is an “incredibly stressful time” for advisors — “it’s stressful for all of us,” said Kevin Darlington, general manager of Broadridge Advisor Solutions. Advisors are “guiding their clients through uncharted waters here and I know that a lot of the advisors that I’m friends with are having some pretty long and some challenging days,” he told viewers.

However, advisors really need to “use this moment in time to strengthen their relationships with existing clients” and “use this opportunity to not just strengthen that bedrock of their existing client base, but grow and win new clients,” he said.

There are people in need of advisors now more than ever, so “this is a moment in time” that advisors should really be “seizing,” he noted. The first step, he advised: “Define your target audience.”

Stressing the importance of embracing digital workflows also, Darlington predicted: “The advisors who can raise that digital flag right now [and] put out that visibility digitally as a safe harbor in this rather turbulent time — those are the advisors who are going to win.”

Almost every advisor has a digital presence to some degree, he noted. But growth-oriented, more “digital-savvy” advisors are the ones who tend to go beyond just email and websites to take advantage of social networks and other digital tools, including search engine optimization and search engine marketing, digital ads and webinars, he said.

Those growth-oriented advisors who start taking such additional steps are seeing as much as 1,400% total traffic increases and 3,500% site engagement growth in an average month over the span of 12 months, he said. “That tells us that there are some advisors who are cooking up the right recipe and then there are some advisors who are continuing to use the traditional, old recipe.”

On average, advisors are acquiring about four clients a year, which is not bad, but not enough to offset churn in the average book of business, he said, citing the findings of a Broadridge survey of more than 400 advisors. However, growth-oriented advisors indicated they were acquiring an average of three times more advisors, with many reporting 19 to 22 acquisitions over the course of a year, which represents a “very sustainable business growth model,” he said.

Working on the Weekend

“Weekends are a great time to engage in an unobtrusive way digitally,” Darlington also said.

Jeremiah Desmarais, CEO of financial advisor marketing firm Advisorist, which produced the online event with Broadridge, went on to suggest that advisors — if they aren’t already doing it — start communicating with prospective new clients on Fridays and Sundays. It is true that few advisors probably email prospective clients on Sundays. But that is “exactly why you should be mailing on Sunday,” he said.

“There’s two things on sale right now: Attention spans and ad spend,” he told viewers, adding: “Never again are you going to get this audience of your ideal prospects who are hyper alert” and opening their emails.

Those advisors who are ignoring LinkedIn when searching for prospective new clients, meanwhile, should rethink that strategy, according to Desmarais. That is because 73% of investors are researching their financial decisions on LinkedIn, which is more than topic-specific discussion boards on Facebook, Google and Twitter combined, he said.

When using LinkedIn, however, he suggested that advisors remember to “be human”: Don’t make a pitch in your first communication to a prospect. Instead, approach from a position of compassion and ask qualifying and engaging questions up front first, he advised.

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