I am always amazed and impressed by the smart, clever and profitable ways my coaching clients implement the strategies and resources we offer them. With that in mind, I asked some of the financial advisors in our elite program to share their best ideas any strategies they have used to generate at least $150,000 in new revenue that they believe could be used by other wealth managers.
Theres nothing theoretical about these tips they have all been used to fuel great results and boost firm performance.
1. DEMONSTRATE YOUR CREDIBILITY
One advisor in our program was looking to expand his firms reputation among prospective clients in its chosen niche business owners, executives and entrepreneurs in his area.
He decided he had to deepen his relationships and build his network and connections with the kinds of people he wanted to serve, so he began asking executives to let him interview them about their lives and careers.
He then used those conversations to create professionally written profiles of success that he would give to each participant. The profiles told each persons unique story including background and history, family life and the driving forces behind their great success.
After doing roughly 60 profiles, he compiled them into a hardcover book. He has since published five more volumes.
The books, he says, got his name out in his community; they also enhanced his credibility among his target market. People who might have blown me off before now come up to me and introduce themselves, he tells me.
The books are also online, so from a search engine optimization perspective they have given the firm a lot of visibility that has led to new business.
2. BUILD A TEAM OF EXPERTS
Elite advisors make a point of building professional networks of outside experts to help them provide value to affluent clients with complex needs. One top financial advisor built a core team that included a CPA, a trust and estate attorney, a family law/matrimonial expert and an insurance specialist. He also has professionals on the bench in case their area of expertise is required.
That professional network also became a source of referrals, bringing him his largest referral ever a client who contributed 30% of asset and revenue growth in 2013. His work with the network also branded him a transitions expert, with special experience in helping clients as they shift from one life phase to another from building wealth to raising a family, for instance, or from a focus on kids and college to retirement.
He recommends a strategic approach to building expert teams, focusing on quality, not quantity. Dont try to partner with 10 so-so professionals who will do an average job. You just need a handful of superior professionals who are the right fit for your clients.
Also, he says, just go for it dont hesitate to reach out, worrying that these professionals will be doing you a favor. Outside experts are looking for ways to build their businesses and serve wealthy clients, just as you are. Most of this advisors peers were eager to discuss ways to work together, he says, once they understood the level of expertise and professionalism that he brought to the table.
He offers one more caution: Dont expect overnight results. Building a professional network takes a lot of work and time; in this advisors case, it took three years to get going. But the benefits have been completely worth the time invested, he says, allowing him to bring a higher level of expertise to clients, enhance his own credibility and develop a greater level of collaboration.
3. UNDERSTAND & SERVE YOUR NICHE
Many top advisors say that focusing on one type of client has been central to their success. One advisor who positioned her practice to serve female senior executives and professionals, for example, tells me that her revenue and AUM have grown by 25% annually, with more than two-thirds of that growth coming from clients in her niche.
Advisors often worry that narrowing their focus on one group of clients will cause them to miss opportunities and leave money on the table, she says, dismissing the idea. Rather, by focusing on a niche, she says, advisors come to be seen as the go-to experts among the members of a specific community giving them more than enough business.
Leveraging even just one contact in your chosen niche can pay off handsomely, she says. When she started to focus on senior professional women, she notes, she had just one existing client that fit the profile. But she worked closely with that client to address a range of advanced planning issues and the client wound up telling 25 colleagues about the advisor.
To serve a niche well, you also have to show that you understand the groups specific financial needs. Another advisor, who specializes in dentists, started out by interviewing more than 50 dentists and other related professionals to identify their specific financial challenges. Next, he wrote a paper based on what he learned a key step in building credibility among a niche market of affluent investors.
When he presented his interviewees with copies of the report, some of them asked to meet with him to discuss their own situations often before even reading the report.
4. HOLD GREAT EVENTS
Private client events are among the best ways to build and reinforce your credibility with clients and prospects. They also can serve as a tool for gathering huge amounts of new assets.
Since 2008, one financial advisor we coach has used unique client events to grow his business fourfold and become one of the top 10 advisors in his entire organization.
He tells me he holds the events at the best restaurants in his area and chooses his guest list carefully and with purpose inviting a maximum of 18 people. Of that group, theres always one strategic alliance partner with a guest, one prospect (also with a guest) and one wholesaler, who pays for the dinner. The rest of the attendees are his clients.
Once the group is assembled, he makes sure to create a fun, light atmosphere to go along with the food. He includes a round of trivia, with $5 bills to the person who correctly answers each question. After dinner, he does a round of Name That Tune playing snippets of 10 songs, again for $5 each. The competitions build connections and energy among the table, he says, adding that its great to watch millionaires get excited about winning five bucks.
All of this creates an electric mood in the room. People are laughing and having fun and the financial advisor is at the center of all that energy. By the time he speaks about his firm and focuses some of the night on business, the crowd is in a great mood and feeling receptive.
Two weeks after the dinner, he sends out letters thanking people for coming; he also includes a book about living life to its fullest. These efforts transform what could be very plain-vanilla dinner parties into truly memorable events for clients, prospects and other professionals.
Advisors can learn a tremendous amount from one another about how to build and maintain world-class practices. These examples represent just some of the strategies that top advisors use every day to provide the type of exceptional client experience that is the hallmark of elite financial advisory firms.
Examine your own business its strengths, weaknesses and areas of opportunities and identify just one thing you could do differently to generate greater success. Armed with a vision of where you want to go and a strategy to guide you there, you will find yourself moving in the right direction with the clarity, purpose and focus you need to achieve great results.
John J. Bowen Jr., Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide, a global training, research and consulting firm for advisors in San Martin, Calif.