How has the profession changed since the late 1990s? Less cold calling, more social media strategy, for one thing. What hasn’t changed is the heart of the profession. Building a solid relationship with your clients is still one of the most important aspects of being a financial planner.

Put the relationship before the sales

Lawrence’s career began in a sales-oriented role. The large entity he worked for was very numbers driven and focused on building revenue for the firm.

“When I started back in 1996, we were given basically a stack of cards and told to start cold calling,” said Lawrence. “It was not a lot of fun, but in other ways, it was very educational because it taught me how to accept rejection very easily and was really helpful later on in my career.”

While he enjoyed his time in this environment and the skills he gained, he began to realize that he wanted to go independent and put the client relationship first. It’s incredibly difficult to work in a role that builds a book of business and sees revenue. But if you build the relationship first, the revenue and other business goals will follow. 

“It's always been this thought process, build the relationship, invest in that relationship, and the revenue will come and what the business goals are, will be reached,” said Lawrence.

What’s in a name?

The “relationship first, sales second” mindset is a cornerstone of Lawrence’s firm, Mitlin Financial. The more you know about your clients and the more they know about you, the deeper and stronger the connection is. With that deep, strong connection, you’ll probably find it easier to meet your clients’ needs and solve their problems.

You may even start building that client relationship unknowingly. Lawrence found that one of the most asked questions from prospective clients is how he came up with the name of his firm. Not only is that one of the most asked questions, the video explaining the story of honoring his family members is the most viewed page on the Mitlin Financial website!

Lawrence believes that the name memorializes two great people in his life, and brings a family element to the firm. When talking about the name with prospective clients, the story almost never fails to come up. Talking about it with potential clients helps them sense that “...they're working with a firm that is family oriented. It gives them a level of comfort, I feel,” said Lawrence. 

Developing a niche organically 

We often talk with our guests about having a niche in this profession: the importance of having one, how to develop your expertise, and so on. But what if you don’t have a particular niche when you’re growing your own firm?

Lawrence was in that position. He tried to focus on certain areas to find a niche within his clients, but “quite frankly, it felt forced, and I didn't feel like I had a real dedication to the niches that we were trying to implement,” said Lawrence. Instead of sticking to a strategy for finding that niche, Mitlin Financial found it naturally.

Together with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Lawrence established the Keith Milano Memorial Fund in honor of his brother-in-law. Every year during Mental Health Awareness Month in May, a group of authors donates a portion of their proceeds towards the AFSP. Through this partnership, Lawrence began working with a number of authors in the romance field.   

“I think a niche really has to be something that you're very passionate about...I think it's better if it's something that's organic in nature,” said Lawrence. “If business comes from it, fantastic. If not, then it wasn't really the intention anyway.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more of Lawrence’s thoughts on social media and his advice for new planners!

What You’ll Learn:

  • The similarities and differences of planners now vs. “then”
  • Moving from a sales perspective to financial planning 
  • Relationship first, sales second
  • The story behind the name of his firm, Mitlin Financial
  • How the firm developed niches organically
  • Lawrence’s advice for someone growing and moving up
  • The importance of establishing a social media presence
  • What’s next for Mitlin Financial

Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP®, and Lawrence Sprung, CFP®, discuss:

Want to keep up with Lawrence Sprung on social media? Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @MitlinFinancial.


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