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2017 FactRight Due Diligence Conference!

How Financial Advisors Can Attract and Retain the Right Client Prospects

by Scott Smith

Financial Advisors

Whether you are an advisor just starting in your career or are well stocked with long-term clients, thinking about where new clients will come from—and how to keep them—never stops. If you have an existing book of business, you will undoubtedly lose some clients over time, even if their reasons for leaving have nothing to do with you. Eventually, you’ll need to replace them.

Bringing in new clients is an ongoing part of what advisors need to do to stay in business. But, not everyone has to do it the same way. Simply because top-grossing advisors have one set of excellent financial skills in common does not mean that anything else is the same, or should be. This is true in any profession, trade or industry.

Marketing needs to happen, but there are many different approaches that resonate with clients. You need to find what works for you and for the clients you’d like to work with. If clients were all the same, even within wealth subgroups, you wouldn’t need to read this article because whatever you’ve been doing should be working for every, single client you have contacted, right? Here are some ideas to help you make a plan:

  1. Identify which clients you want to work with
    • Take some time to make a list of the common characteristics for each type of ideal client.
    • Review the abundant data and customer surveys that you can find on the internet to help you determine what clients look for in an advisor.
    • Note that data is broken down by income and wealth and each group’s priorities are different from the other.
  2. Start small
    • You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a marketing “package.”
    • Pick one or two ideas to start with and see what resonates with your ideal customers.
    • The most effective marketing costs nothing—return phone calls quickly, be a good listener and follow through.
  3. Offer excellent customer service above anything else—this goes farther with most clients than any calendar, pen or newsletter
    • Survey responses show that as client-net-worth increases, clients expect you to have more knowledge, be able to understand and explain complex offerings that you recommend, review their portfolios as often as every day and will not hesitate to leave you if their needs are not met.
    • All wealth groups have different needs and expectations. Court each group differently. Don’t fight their expectations. Rather, find a way to meet them by personalizing your marketing.

What else can you do?

Sometimes the strongest connections you make with clients are at events where you are doing things that you have in common. Because you have a passion for something, you are more relaxed and can be yourself. 

Do you belong to athletic clubs, participate in outdoor activities, or enjoy charitable events requiring hands-on participation? These are also opportunities where just by being yourself, you can make lasting connections to people who will want to work with you because they know you share their values without having to ask. Advisors and clients feel more comfortable and can build a level of trust. 

And at the same time, it is always important to keep in mind that at any moment, a potential client can be standing right next to you. Always be professional, courteous and considerate. Don’t be rude, condescending or hasty. Practice listening and patience. Listening to someone tell you about their needs is way more engaging for them than hearing about you. 

Ask follow up questions that are not too personal but show that you are interested and are listening. Offer your thoughts on the best way to answer a question or solve a problem. Yes, there are times when perhaps you may feel like you are giving out free advice. However, think of these times as opportunities to show what you know or that you are willing to research it. You may not get this client to sign up while you’re rebuilding the local playground, but when you call during the week to provide some helpful information or with the answer to the question, maybe you will. 

You are following through, demonstrating your expertise and proving that you care. That will go a long way toward impressing a client. You are thinking like they think. There is nothing more flattering to a client than that. You’ve learned about what it is they fear, what they see in their future, what motivates them to be charitable, political or religious without actually asking any of those questions. And, they’ve seen you in action at similar events.  

Always be aware of the potential for conflict with clients. When making professional recommendations, keep your personal beliefs out of the recommendations you make. Always make fact-based and well researched recommendations. You will retain your credibility over the long term and engender the client’s respect and trust.

Dealing with your competition—even if you’re an introvert

How do you compete with the advisors who can sniff out a new client a mile away? For example, let’s compare two personality types, the introvert and the extrovert. Of course, everyone assumes that the extrovert will be more successful at scouting out and signing up new clients. Why? Because the extrovert isn’t afraid to be seen and ask for the client’s business—even risking on-the-spot rejection. And frankly, that is the most important thing you can do. If you don’t ask for the business, you will likely not get it. 

But many advisors aren’t like this and likely fear rejection in a face-to-face encounter. Also, many clients may be turned off by how quickly they are pounced upon at an event and don’t like such a direct approach. Others do. There are enough clients out there, and your intuition and own comfort level will tell you which approach may work best. 

What’s an introvert to do? Plenty! In fact, the introvert’s approach may work better for some potential clients, especially higher net worth clients. These clients can be more private about their financial affairs and won’t be interested in discussing them when other people are within earshot. Both approaches can be successful in the right situation with the right client. But the key is trying to gauge which works with which client. Don’t be obnoxious or move out of your own comfort zone too quickly. 

What if you see a potential client having lunch with some of your acquaintances? Do you go over and introduce yourself and interrupt what may be an important event? Do you wait until it is over? Do you leave the table alone completely and contact your friends to obtain information on how to reach the client on your own later?  

Different advisors will react differently. Keep in mind that everyone markets differently and that there is no one best way to do it. It’s best to use a combination approach while making sure that you know what you are talking about and can back it up. But consider all of the things that you do in your life and they can become opportunities to engage people who will need your help and expertise. 

Keeping clients happy over the long-term

Retaining these clients will come naturally if you’ve incorporated some of these ideas into your routine already. You just do what you do. As mentioned in a recent FactRight blog post, part of the skill in seeking clients is recognizing that you are not going to get along with everyone. Clients click with someone for various reasons, just like advisors, lawyers or contractors do. If a client walks into a meeting with you and tries to convert you to the client’s religion, how many times can you put up with that? Or how many times will the client do it before giving up and moving to an advisor who shares the same faith? 

Perhaps it won’t make a difference and there will be a happy medium. But more and more, given the increasingly polarized political, religious and economic viewpoints in America, advisors need to tread carefully. Clients increasingly are choosing to put their money where their values and beliefs are. While it is certainly possible to be neutral on all or any of these topics, both the advisor and the client have to value the professional relationship above all else. Be aware that this is becoming more difficult than ever to do.  

Keep adjusting. What worked last year may not work at all this year in this environment or economy. Keep on your toes and don’t let your guard down. Don’t assume your clients will love you if you neglect them. Any relationship is always work, including these with clients. Do what you do best, do your research and implement a plan that you are comfortable with. 

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