Poaching Season

The bear market means it's a perfect time to call clients someone else's. There are a lot of reps hiding under their desks, says one Salomon Smith Barney producer. Their clients are up for grabs. While smaller producers are struggling to stay in the business, big producers have said in recent weeks that this is one of the better times to go prospecting. They're preaching risk management and diversification

The bear market means it's a perfect time to call clients — someone else's.

“There are a lot of reps hiding under their desks,” says one Salomon Smith Barney producer. “Their clients are up for grabs.”

While smaller producers are struggling to stay in the business, big producers have said in recent weeks that this is one of the better times to go prospecting. They're preaching risk management and diversification to hard-hit investors unhappy with their old brokers, who are avoiding them anyway.

Daniel Yasharel, a CFP, CLU and ChFC with the AFP Group/Royal Alliance in Los Angeles says clients are eager to talk to an advisor, often because theirs has gone into hiding — a productive exercise. “People say to me, ‘I don't know where he is,’” he says. Yasharel says that 40 percent of his new business in the last 16 months has come from snagging other reps' clients.

Another good tactic is to sponsor seminars that offer a more honest assessment of the economic climate than they might hear from the broker that put them in too many equities and left them there. Reps say they've been discussing fixed income products and risk assessment more frequently than in the past.

“I've gotten more clients than I've lost,” says Steven Sprovach at the Financial Network Group in Cincinnati. “Most of the time, it's been someone calling me up saying, ‘My broker did this…is this wrong? Would you look at it?’”

Of course, some of your clients might also be hunting for other brokers. So get on the phone to keep them happy — and keep dialing to woo prospects with the attention they're not getting from their advisors. “I'm just trying to get as many prospects as I can because I'm having anxiety attacks,” says another Smith Barney broker. “I'm scared about how many of my clients will leave.”

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