In my discussions with advisers, one topic we frequently talk about is referrals. When clients suggest that a friend or a colleague work with their adviser, it carries weight and meaning and the prospect is often influenced to make an appointment. No wonder referrals are the best way to attract high-quality prospects to your business!
One key to gaining referrals is to remain top of mind. You want your name coming up in conversation over and over again, so when clients hear a friend express a financial need, they immediately think of you. The more often your clients think of you, the better.
The Art of Referrals
Asking for referrals is tricky territory, given the volatility and circumstances of 2020. People have a lot going on in their personal lives and worries about health, safety and job security are probably taking all their mental bandwidth.
So, what can advisers do to stay top of mind with clients and gain referrals?
Communicate. What do clients need to hear from you? Some might be looking for reassurance that they’re still on track for their goals; others might want to learn more about the markets and economy and where they’re headed. Still others need to be given permission to ignore the media noise and distractions and focus on their families. There’s no one way to communicate, but it’s imperative that you do so.
A recent study from Invesco found that 67 percent of clients have not had any meaningful contact with their advisers during the pandemic, which is shocking. Yes, these past months have been tough on you as well, but if you’re not there for your clients when a pandemic hits, markets drop and businesses close, when will you be there? It’s hard to think of another time clients might need you more. And if you aren’t communicating with them in tough times, they might decide to find another adviser.
Offer practical help. As long as you keep your focus on the people you help and the problems you solve, you should let clients know you’re willing to support the people they care about. Offer to be a resource and a second pair of eyes. You can say something like, “You have the comfort of knowing your portfolio is in good hands, but I’m aware that many people don’t know what to do with their investments right now. If you’ve heard someone wonder if they will still be able to retire, let me know; I’d be happy to give them a second opinion on their portfolio.”
Get personal. Sometimes, sharing a personal story opens the doors to breakthroughs in relationships. If you’ve struggled working remotely, managing your children’s online learning and keeping up with the news, it’s okay to share that experience. We’ve all been going through the same thing. If you’ve experienced a death in the family or a loved one is sick, open up to a client in a similar circumstance. Or perhaps you have a joyful moment to share, such as the birth of a child. Let people see the moments that matter to you and they’ll likely share their own.
Be a resource. Many companies and businesses have closed their doors—some for good. Job losses and layoffs loom for many people, and it could happen to some of your clients. You’ll stand out if you offer assistance to job seekers at a time when they need it most. Try one of the following:
- Arrange a networking session—live or on Zoom—to help connect people. Invite clients, but make sure they know it’s open to anyone else at their former company, too.
- Reach out to your business owner clients who are doing well and see if they are looking for good employees. Facilitate a lunch meeting with job seekers, if possible.
- Offer a free consultation to anyone laid off as a result of the pandemic.
- Post a message on LinkedIn, offering to connect job seekers. Because LinkedIn was designed for business networking, it’s a natural fit, but you can do the same on other social media you leverage, too.
Meeting a Need
These are a few ways advisers can have their names come up in positive conversation, and no doubt you can think of more. The point is to be active, visible and helpful, so you are the first person suggested when someone expresses a need for good financial advice. That’s how you bring new clients to your practice in every market condition.
Kristine McManus is chief business development officer, practice management, at Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, the nation’s largest privately held Registered Investment Adviser—independent broker/dealer. Since joining the firm in April 2014, she has been working with affiliated advisers to grow their top line through the introduction of various programs, tools and coaching. Kristine holds the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM designation, a master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and a BFA from Adelphi University.