Whatever may be happening in the broader economy, a good businesswoman or businessman is always thinking about one thing: Acquiring new business. For some businesspeople, new business may be relatively simple. If you run a retail store, “more business” means more people coming through your doors. But for financial advisors, new business isn’t an impersonal transaction, logged onto a balance sheet and quickly forgotten. No, for a financial advisor, new business means building relationships, establishing trust, and laying the groundwork for years- or decades-long connections.
Times are changing, and there are more ways than ever for financial advisors to forge new bonds and build new links. Let me tell you about four of them.
First, Clarify Your Client Profile
Not every financial advisor can, or should, serve the same type of clients. If you had to devise a series of client personas for your business, would the process be a swift one? Or would you conclude that there are few common denominators between the people you serve? Are most of your clients approaching retirement and even making plans for their heirs and successors? Or do you work mainly with younger clients new to financial advising and still figuring out what exactly you offer them?
An older client’s dollar is the same as a younger client’s dollar, but retaining and expanding clients will look very different for an advisor whose bread-and-butter clients are millennials and for one who works with with Gen X. Your outreaching and messaging should be targeted to the demographics you want to serve — In the competitive world of financial advisory services, a one-size-fits-all brand ends up fitting no one. Messaging intended to be relevant to everyone is unlikely to interest anyone. If, on the other hand, you make clear, specific, and differentiated case, you can dominate your niche.
The clearer you are on what your typical client looks like — and also what your ideal new client looks like — the better shape you’ll be in for efficiently growing your business. Read more on niches here.
Second, Build an Online Presence
Hardly any business today can operate without a digital footprint, and almost every financial advisor will have, at the very least, a website for their clients. But doing the minimum isn’t enough in a competitive environment.
Advisors with relatively old-fashioned clients should probably prioritize familiar tools and means of boosting engagement. An attractive and frequently updated website can serve as a useful calling card, but maintenance is essential. Few things are more disconcerting to a prospective client than clicking to a website’s “news” or “blog” tab and seeing that the last update was years ago.
If you have the bandwidth and the writing chops, a newsletter with advice, discussion of trends, and explanations of difficult concepts will keep you in your clients’ heads as a reliable source. And if they find your material useful, there’s always the chance that they’ll forward to friends and peers looking to improve their financial lives.
If your clients tend to be younger, then you may want to emphasize social media like Twitter, which is great for giving your opinion on news, and YouTube, which provides a platform for explainer videos. If you’re creating good material on Twitter or YouTube, it’s easy and necessary to repost it to Facebook and LinkedIn. And while no one can have a presence on every social media channel (Most financial advisors won’t need a TikTok), keep an eye out for new opportunities.
Third, Be Smarter About Referrals
Financial advisors have always relied on word of mouth for expansion. If a client is happy with your work and a friend asks for advice on money matters, why wouldn’t they refer their friend to you? You get a client, your client does a good deed, and their friend gets a new advisor. What’s wrong with this picture?
Simply put, the old model for referrals is passive. If money doesn’t come up in your clients’ conversations, then they won’t tell your friends about your work, no matter how thrilled they may be with their portfolio’s performance or your service. What’s to be done? A referral program can be a win-win-win, good for you, good for your old clients, and good for your new ones. If current clients know that they’ll be rewarded for spreading the word, they’ll actively start referral conversations.
If you’re not ready to take the leap on a referral incentive program, there are other low-impact steps you can take to boost new business. If you’re writing a newsletter for clients, include a note saying that they should feel free to forward it to anyone who might be interested. If you’re particularly proud of an insight you’ve shared on LinkedIn, end your post by asking readers to share if it interested them.
Finally, in order to get referrals from online sources, find platforms that allow clients to find you. Think about what you do when you find yourself in a situation analogous to your potential clients’. If you’re looking for a doctor, do you select the first doctor in your Google search as your primary care provider? Or do you use a tool like Zocdoc to narrow down the possibilities and find the right practice for your needs? Just as doctors need to make sure they’re properly listed, financial advisors need to know where their audience is looking — and make sure that they’re findable there.
Finally, Don’t Go It Alone
Being independent and being solitary are two different things, and your role as an independent financial advisor doesn’t mean that you should labor alone. Connecting with an online base of your fellow financial advisors is a powerful way to learn best practices, exchange insights, and improve your business’s operations. If this sounds like something that might appeal to you, reach out to me at email@example.com. I’d love to talk to you about the community we’re building!
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