The average production in the room was $1.5 million, the length of service 20 years, but the trepidation was the sort of thing you might feel at a freshman orientation.
This was at a workshop called Skating to the Money — Mastering High-Net-Worth Selling, during an exercises in which the participants set their firewall (minimum) and ideal high-net-worth targets.
The consensus of anxiety was prompted by a statement made by Rick, a 35-year veteran advisor. “My problem isn't in being able to get in front of serious money,” he said. “I'm in front of a guy who has at least $100 million, but I'm not sure what to say, what he needs, and more importantly, if our firm has the ability to really service a client with that level of wealth.”
Noticing that almost all the heads in the room were nodding knowingly as Rick spoke, I asked a couple of questions in an attempt to refine the problem: “Is a $100-million prospect your ideal, Rick?” And, “If so, how many do you currently work with?”
His responses told the group all it needed to know: “No and none.”
The point is that the effort advisors spend trying to get face-to-face with high-net-worth prospects — from full-page ads in national publications to the formation of fancy wealth management teams — can be for naught if they have neglected to first define the sorts of prospects they want to land.
Meetings with wealthy clients require advisors to exude confidence, competence and control — things that are difficult to project if you're trying to work through whether the client's a good fit for you.
As I put the workshop group through its paces, the participants agreed they were incapable of handling a $100 million client properly. Further, the majority had not formed an ideal high-net-worth profile, nor had they set a strict minimum.
Unless you take time to define your ideal client and study their behavioral and attitudinal patterns, only minimal success can be expected.
There are a number of reasons why an elite corps of financial advisors dominates the high-net-worth world, but three stand out: The purpose, preparation and practices these advisors exhibit.
I am constantly amazed at the lack of conviction displayed by financial advisors who have stated a goal of landing high-net-worth clients. Without a strong sense of purpose, I find that advisors actually resist doing what they need to do. Before embarking on a high-net-worth quest, answer the following questions:
Why are you targeting high-net worth investors?
How do you define your ideal prospect, and what is the “value agenda” you can deliver to him?
How many of these ideal high-net worth clients are you capable of handling?
Financial advisors who are successful in targeting high-net-worth investors instinctively know they must master high-net-worth selling skills. After you've defined the ideal client, you can start to identify prospects:
How many of ideal opportunities are in your geographic area, and how many prospects could be upgraded to fit your ideal status?
How will you get face-to-face with these prospects, and what will you get a meeting with one?
What tools will you need? What will your assistant/staff/team need to prepare?
There's timeless truth behind the old saying, practice makes perfect. After you've identified your ideal targets and prepared for meeting them, you've got to get out and talk to them.
How many face-to-face encounters do you have with an ideal prospect, center-of-influence or referral alliance per week?
How many ideal prospects are currently in your pipeline?
How many new assets are in your pipeline?
Activity drives the dream, but your practice will be short-lived if you are not prepared, and you probably won't bother to prepare unless you are purposed.
Review the three P's and answer the questions outlined above, and you'll soon find yourself skating to the money — just like those who are currently thriving in the high-net-worth market.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.