Most of Sheryl Rowling’s clients come from referrals, the majority of those from other clients, says the principal of Rowling & Associates in San Diego.
But other professionals, such as accountants and lawyers, are her second-most-frequent source of referrals.
How does Rowling get those CPAs and attorneys to send clients her way?
“You have be able to differentiate yourself in a way that non-investment people can understand and feel good about,” says Rowling, whose firm has more than $260 million in assets under management.
One-on-one meetings with the lawyers and accountants present the best circumstances to help them recognize a financial advisor’s distinctive values, she says.
“What’s really worked for me is the idea of communicating through mutual clients,” Rowling says.
She looks for such opportunities when scheduling annual financial planning tasks for clients.
“We also do evaluations for year-end tax planning,” Rowling says.
Those sessions create ideal occasions for her to ask clients if she might contact their accountants.
Typically, the clients agree, and Rowling, in turn, proposes to the CPA rather than work on the task through emails or on the phone: “Do you think it would be beneficial to meet sometime?”
Invariably, presented with such a task-focused meeting, the CPAs respond positively, she says.
Similarly, Rowling proposes meeting with her existing clients’ estate attorneys to work on titling the clients’ accounts. At the ensuing one-on-one meetings with the accountants or lawyers, she makes a point to showcase the value she has delivered for the clients.
Rowling identifies, for example, the wealth that she has helped the clients achieve through tax-loss-harvesting strategies.
If she doesn’t take the time to underscore those gains, the other professionals might never understand in precise terms how she has helped the clients preserve wealth.
Using such approaches, Rowling says: “We are able to connect with CPAs and lawyers.”
Advisors should develop relationships with lawyers and accountants whose clients share the same demographics, says Ray Padrón, a CFP and a managing partner and wealth advisor at Brightworth in Atlanta, which manages more than $1.2 billion in assets.
Ideally, “you have a niche, they have a niche, and you have found the niches match,” he says.
Padrón’s clients, for example, are usually business owners who are trying to monetize their companies.
“My network is with law firms with the same type of clients. That is where I spend my time and energy,” Padrón says.
Miriam Rozen writes about the financial advisory industry and is a staff reporter for Texas Lawyer.
This story is part of a 30-day series on how to generate the best referrals.