Think of the best party you ever attended. It was probably choreographed with the attendees in mind and you probably felt special with all the attention to detail. The hosts made you feel like a VIP.

That atmosphere is what you need to shoot for when organizing an event to attract new clients.
A well-planned event can help you reach many more high-level prospects than you may be reaching now, especially the affluent and wealthy, says Bill Cates, CEO of Referral Coach International, a coaching firm.

“While many of your new prospects are ready to discuss their financial situation and financial goals with you on the very first appointment, many others are not. Many solid prospects would prefer to meet you in a more social setting first,” he says.

Before venturing into the event-planning process, you need to take a care of a few things. First, this is an advertising event, so the marketing that surrounds it needs to be approved by your compliance department. Additionally, there may be client gifts, so be sure that you know FINRA’s allowable annual gift limits.

Finally, one of the most important rules within our industry is the “Know Your Client” rule. If done correctly, following this rule will help in your event-planning process. During your initial and ongoing data intake, discover your client’s passions, hobbies, interests, personal goals and dreams.

Now you can segment your client base into event categories that would appeal to them, such as gardening, golf, cooking, wine, music and travel.


Start the event-planning process with the end in mind. Ask yourself what goals you would like to achieve. Once you’ve established your goals, you’re ready to dive into the details of planning the event.

The first decision you need to make is which referral sources to tap for the event. Your referrals come from your bank staff, your centers of influence and your clients.

While most bank advisors do not have a center-of-influence referral team, research suggests that this is where you would get the best referrals.

Next, you need to identify your ideal client as this will help to identify who ends up on the party list. If your event is a bank or bank department led event, expect to lose some control of the event and its ultimate outcome.

In planning the event, keep in mind the old saying that “Birds of a feather flock together.”
If possible, make your first event around something that both you and your selected clients are passionate about. People will understand that you have some commonality and will help you to further cement your relationship.

Additionally, if the clients you are selecting to attend are really your ideal clients and they invite two to three friends, you will truly achieve a “birds of a feather” gathering. Another long-term benefit is that you are shaping your client base to be individuals with whom you share a common interest.

Next, you need to decide what type of event you want to plan. Start by breaking your list of ideas into event categories, such as educational, art or culinary events.

Once that’s decided, create an event-planning checklist. List the tasks, the people responsible for them, and due dates. An Excel spreadsheet or project-planning software works just fine.
This is the part where you sweat the details. Drill down so that no task goes unnoticed or unassigned. Meet regularly with your team to ensure that everyone stays on task.

Enlist clients or client businesses where appropriate. You may have a client who is a golf pro, master gardener, musician, master chef, photographer, psychologist, magician, artist, actor or oenophile who would love to share their passion and expertise.

Additionally, you might have a client who has a catering, restaurant, liquor, winery, photography or travel company who you could enlist to bring extra panache to the party while supporting or promoting their company.


Ideas for your social event are limitless. Let’s start with four common categories of events—arts, culinary, education and outdoors—that have been employed by successful advisors. For clients interested in the arts, you could sponsor an outdoor concert or couple an event with specific music from a string quartet, local artist, college musician or group or a local prodigy. Alternatively, you could attend a local play or concert and arrange for a “behind the scenes” experience for your attendees.

Tickle their taste buds with a culinary experience. For instance, you could have a private viewing of the movie “Sideways” followed by a wine-tasting class. Or, you could have a stand-alone wine-tasting event whereby you show your attendees how to properly pair the wine with fruits, nuts, specialty meats and/or cheeses. 

Another idea would be to bring in a local supplier to show how to home-brew beer or wine.
Take your group to a local vineyard and experience the plant, fruit, crush, ferment and final product stages of wine making. The same can be done at a micro-brewery

A cooking demonstration with a local chef could be experienced in many areas such as pasta, seafood, meats, breads and pastries. Alternatively, you could concentrate on cooking mediums such as barbecuing, grilling and baking. Finally, a noon event could revolve around high tea and pastries.

For your lifelong learners, host a learning event or series. The sky is the limit here. For instance, a whole series could be dedicated to master gardening, photography, painting, travel, or health.

Alternatively, it could be a one-topic event. Consider tapping local educators in the area of their expertise, such as professors, psychologists, adventurers, artists or nutritionists.

For the athletically inclined, get physical! Plan events such as guided fishing or try canoeing down a local river or skeet shooting at a local range.


After the event is over, have your clients and guests complete a survey either online or in print.
Be sure that you are capturing their guest’s contact information for their feedback. Additionally, ensure that you capture any additional information/services that the guest may desire as a result of the event.

Find out what additional events they would like to attend or other individuals that they would like to invite to future events.

Measure your post activities to your pre-event goals. Track referrals all the way to new relationships established so that you can determine your ROI.

Be sure that you debrief with your staff and team regarding what went right and wrong and what needs to be changed.

Finally, take it easy on yourself and your team. It won’t be 100% perfect the first time. This is your opportunity to capture “key learnings” so your next event will be fantastic.

With event planning, advisors don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan in making their event a “wow” event. Sweat the details and have fun!

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