When your best clients drive your practice,
attracting more of them is easy
Learn to get referrals the natural way
and revolutionize your business
Most of what you have heard about getting referrals
is incomplete, outdated, or wrong
Advisors don’t get referrals because they
have no formal plan to attract them
Steve Wershing is the best marketing mind in
financial planning. - Bob Veres (Publisher, Inside Information)
Introductions following our last client advisory board meeting represent almost $30 million in new assets.

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Entries in Julie Littlechild (13)


Without Practice, You Can’t Be Perfect

You have carefully designed the client experience. You have written thorough procedures. Your staff is on board. So, how can you be sure you are doing the best job for the clients and delivering on your promises? One critical element is often overlooked: practice.

This post was inspired by an article from Chris Lema (thanks for alerting me Josh Patrick). In it, he reveals the error in trying to Book Yourself Solid. If you and your team are busy working all the time, you are almost certainly doing it wrong. You need time to step through your processes, make sure they work, and make sure that everyone on the team understands their role and has developed skill at carrying it out. Navy SEALs do it. Racing pit crews do it. And so should you.

My wife is a professional musician. She has been playing double bass for close to 30 years and performs with one of the best orchestras in the country. And still, several times a week, what I hear from down the hall is scales. Etudes. The basics. Because, she explains, stop doing that for even a few days at a time and you will not be in peak condition.

Providing clients a consistent excellent experience will drive client loyalty. Take a little time with the team and have each member demonstrate how they carry out their role in the process. Confirm that everyone's skills are current. Solicit ideas for improvements.

When was the last time you sat down with your team to discuss how a plan gets put together? How often do you run through the process of getting ready for a client appointment? Or how you get the client ready for that appointment? (Do you send a reminder card or making a reminder phone call? Do you send preparatory materials in advance?) Consider getting the team together and stepping through your client onboarding process.

Make sure there is a little time each month for you and your staff to work on those skills. To review the basics. Confirm that what you are doing is what your manual says gets done.

After all, there is a reason for calling what you do a practice.


Littlechild Dispels the Cult of Satisfaction 

Julie Littlechild explains that to seriously drive referrals we need to get away from the "cult of satisfaction" and to look more deeply at what drives client loyalty.

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The Two Times Clients Refer You

Two times people refer you and when you ask is not one of them. Just after they meet with you and when a friend expresses a need.

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To Get Referrals, Your Clients Must Understand Your Target Market

Your clients are willing to give you referrals, but do they understand who to refer?

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Morningstar Gets Most Of It Wrong – An Illustration Of The Hazards Of Writing Your Own Survey

Last week, Morningstar Advisor ran an article reviewing a survey they recently did with 980 investors and discussing some of the conclusions. The article provides a great illustration of the mistakes you can make surveying clients, with examples of the two most common errors advisors make when writing their own.

The article reviews respondents’ answers to the question of what is most important to them about a financial plan. The sample size was relevant, the selection of survey participants seems reasonable, and the numbers are clear. These facts, in conjunction with the fact that it was Morningstar sponsoring the survey, make the first obvious mistake surprising. The author disregards the data and presents the conclusions he wants to be true. One example is the first comment about the relative ranking of Quality of the Systems/Reporting: “Although this is not a highly ranked item, it is important nonetheless.”  Let me reword that: The clients did not think this was so important, but they should have. Even more dramatic is the discussion of the response to Stability and Quality of the Firm: “That could be interpreted to mean that clients value advice they get regardless of the stability and quality of the firm. However, I believe that clients want to do business with stable, high-quality firms…” My own inclination is to believe that clients place some importance on the stability and quality of the firm that provides them advice; but it is amateurish to argue against your own data when presenting survey results.

Most advisors I see are not so shortsighted as to argue against their clients’ responses. The second mistake of this survey is the one I see most commonly – poorly worded questions. The survey purports to find out what clients value most about a financial plan. However, there are essentially no questions about a plan. All the questions relate to investment management or the firm that provides it. Many advisors, when drafting their own surveys, word their questions in a way that reflects what they believe the answers should be. They inadvertently reflect their assumptions and biases in the questions themselves, skewing the outcomes and providing misleading conclusions. The creator of the survey clearly has an investment management orientation. If he does any actual financial planning for clients, he does not take it very seriously. Consequently, the results of the survey are of no real value to a practitioner who is interested in what clients consider important about financial planning. Beyond the choices that the clients can make to answer this question, there is the issue of the nature of the question: Should this be a multiple choice question without an “other” category, or should there be an additional short answer question to pick up responses not anticipated by the author? It is the unexpected answers that actually provide the most value.

Obtaining client feedback is the foundation of improving your service, increasing client loyalty, and generating referrals. Surveying is a science and there is a lot of value that comes from retaining a professional’s guidance. Firms like Advisor Impact can deliver this expertise at a very reasonable cost. If you are sincerely interested in finding out what's important to your clients and using it to improve the experience they have of your firm, an investment in an experts help will pay itself back many times over.


In a market crash, what you ask your clients is more important than what you tell them

One of the joys of volatile markets is that you can actually remember the lessons of the last big downturn, because it was not that long ago. One of the significant ideas to arise from that difficult time was the importance of doing as much asking as telling.

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IPI study: advisors think their service is better than their clients do

A recent IPI study reveals 63% of ultra high net worth investors are fully satisfied with their advisors and that, shocklingly, 95% of advisors believe their clients feel that way.

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Results From Client Engagement Think Tank, Part 1

The first of a series of posts on an industry think tank on client engagement I facilitated in conjunction with FPA Business Solutions 2011

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Maximize referrals with a Client advisory board white paper now available

I have just released a white paper in conjunction with the recent webinar I did with Julie Littlechild on how to leverage a client advisory board as a key ingredient in a successful referral marketing program. The report is free, and can be downloaded here.

A client advisory board can be the most powerful tool in and investment advisors marketing toolbox. This paper contains all the tips and tricks you will need to make your client advisory board a success. If increasing referrals is one of the goals of your marketing plan this year, the information in this paper will help make sure you achieve your goal.

Take a look, and post a comment with any opinions or suggestions.


Three Point Approach For Continuous Referrals

Creating a continuous stream of referrals is possible with a simple, three point approach implemented in your practice. Overview of a free e-book available soon.

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160 Allens Creek Rd, Suite 270, Rochester, NY 14618 | 585-381-2662

Home | Contact Us | Login | © 2013-forever, Stephen Wershing. All rights reserved.