10 Business-Building Activities for the Financial Advisor
Every financial advisor knows that the best way to drum up new business is through marketing and networking, but they often don’t know how to market and network effectively. Many are too pushy and drive away prospects instead of attracting them.
Here are ten suggestions for meeting new prospects and transforming them into clients.
Be natural. Instead of thinking of client acquisition in terms of marketing and sales, think of it in terms of meeting and talking with people and serving their needs. Just be passionate about what you do and eager to bring value into your clients’ lives. Then, get out in the world and mingle so people get to know you and what you do.
Schedule financial advisor client review meetings
Early in your career (and throughout your career for your best clients), meet with your clients at least once every quarter to see if anything has changed in their lives that you can help with. This level of frequency has multiple benefits. Chief among them is that these meetings remind your clients who are your natural ambassadors of the great personalized service you offer.
Conduct two or three of these high frequency, best client reviews over lunch or dinner meetings without paperwork or formal presentations. Just engage in conversation about what’s going on in the client’s life to find out whether anything’s changed that would call for modifying the client’s portfolio. Conduct a more formal review meeting at your office with charts and documentation once or twice a year.
Keep a log of friends and family that your financial advisor clients mention
As you talk with clients, they’re likely to mention names of people who are important to them — a boss, colleagues, neighbors, friends, family members, and so on. For example, if the topic of vacations comes up, you may find out that your clients have plans to vacation with another couple. When your clients mention names, jot them down along with any details about the people mentioned. After the meeting, add the names to your client relationship management (CRM) system to follow up later.
At the next meeting, you can then ask your clients about their trip with so-and-so. They’ll be impressed that you actually listened to them and remembered (or are that organized). Then, you can ask whether they think so-and-so would be a good client for you. If the answer is yes or maybe, ask for an introduction so you can meet with the prospects and judge for yourself whether you’d be able to help them. If the answer is no, you may want to ask follow-up questions to find out why. You still may want to meet with the prospects to judge for yourself.
Care for the people your clients care about. Too often I’ve heard from clients about a friend of theirs with financial problems I could have resolved (or helped the friend avoid) had I been the friend’s financial advisor at the time. Invariably, the client tells me he wished he had introduced me to his friend. I do, too.
Sponsor one charitable event each year
Find a cause you’re passionate about and want your personal brand associated with, and then sponsor one charitable event annually to generate revenue for the cause.
This is a charitable event, not a sales event. Don’t actively pursue clients at the event or expect anything in return for the sponsorship. Approach this activity as a way to create a more intimate relationship with the organization’s development team. The development team may become a long-term source of great referrals.
Don’t be a one-and-done sponsor. Show up every year consistently. Along the way, share with the charity’s development team your charitable-giving solutions, such as charitable remainder trusts (CRTs), donor-advised funds (DAFs), and private family foundations (PFFs) that could benefit their efforts. If you don’t have any charitable-giving solutions, bring in a joint work partner who does.
Break bread with your best financial advisor clients
A long lunch, a festive dinner with significant others, and even a weekend trip all make for great ways to get to know your best clients better. Away from a business agenda, your clients will feel more comfortable sharing details that reveal what’s going on in their lives and in their minds.
I’ve actually gained more by learning from my best clients how to manage my business than I gained from referrals. Don’t be surprised; your best clients are most likely to be business owners or senior executives.
Be responsive: practice the same-day rule for responding to clients
When clients text or email you or leave a voicemail message, get back with them within a few hours, not a few days. You don’t necessarily need to answer a question or resolve an issue immediately, but you should get back with the client quickly to let him know that you received his message and to provide a time frame for when he can expect a more thorough response. The foundation of excellent client service involves establishing consistent expectations.
If you (or your firm) don’t get back with clients quickly, then you’re providing fertile ground for a small, benign issue to balloon into a critical, malignant one.
Attend every party you’re invited to
Even if you’re not a natural finder, nothing is easier than accepting an invitation to a party, any party — birthday, graduation, bar mitzvah, wedding, anniversary, retirement, whatever. The community in which you practice probably has dozens of celebrations every week, and if you’ve met enough people, then you’re going to be invited to at least a few of them. When you’re invited, go. If the party is with friends or family, you’ll have a great opportunity to get to know them in a relaxed environment.
Have an elevator pitch for your financial advisory business
Whenever somebody asks what you do, you should be able to answer the question in less than ten seconds. This terse description of what you do is known as an elevator pitch. The idea is that you can tell someone what you do during a short ride together in an elevator. See Chapter 18 for guidance on how to write an elevator pitch.
When you’re composing your elevator pitch, focus on what you do and the value you bring to your clients’ lives — your value proposition.
Welcome all financial advisor prospects, large or small
Even though someone may be too small for your practice (especially if you’ve been in practice for some time), make him feel welcome and appreciated. If he has questions or concerns that you can address with little effort, do so, and then ask if you can pass his name along to a financial advisor who may be better suited to meet his needs. If your prospects give you permission, call the other financial advisor and give the advisor the prospect’s name and contact information.
I recommend calling the advisor instead of simply giving the advisor’s name and contact information to the prospects because prospects often fail to follow up. In addition, contacting the other advisor to provide a referral is a powerful networking tactic, making the other advisor a more likely source of future referrals.
Some of your best big clients are likely to come from smaller client referrals.
Stop selling and start telling stories
If you’re pitching products and solutions to prospects, you’re not going to be very successful as a financial advisor. Switch from selling to and start telling stories. Share anecdotes about specific challenges your clients faced and how you helped them overcome those challenges.
When sharing stories, protect the privacy and confidentiality of your clients and their families. Obviously, don’t mention any names (you can use pseudonyms, if necessary), but also beware of providing any details that would enable the listener to figure out the identity of the person in your story.
Whether you worked with an estate attorney on replacing a troublesome individual trustee with a corporate trustee or just completed a retirement income plan for a newly retired client, highlight the details that made the case most interesting to you. The most interesting cases are usually those that surprised you or that taught you a valuable lesson.
Be active on social media to prospect for financial advisor clients
Social media platforms are great ways to stay in touch with clients while increasing your exposure to prospects. I use LinkedIn to share information and insights with my colleagues in the industry. I’m not so keen on Facebook because lately my news feed has been overrun with ferocious opinions from extremists. Instagram is great, though. I use my account mostly to show the food I eat; people seem to enjoy looking at food. In fact, Instagram has been the best platform for interacting with prospects and joint-work advisors. Now that Instagram feeds into Facebook, the platform has an even greater reach.
If you have a team, post about them. Share pictures of team members celebrating birthdays, traveling on vacation, or engaging in community service. Convey the idea that your team is about much more than just providing outstanding financial advice. Show team members smiling and laughing. Share your insights or inspirational quotes.
Don’t use social media to pitch product or fake articles that promote product sales.
Always check with your broker/dealer’s compliance department before posting anything on social media. Every firm has its own rules and guidelines.