“I’ve had it with these CPAs in town,” Douglas blurted out, then further explained “We’re probably the most professional wealth management team in town, we’ve given referrals to CPAs, they know who we are, but it’s not close to being a two-way street.”
Would you recommend a restaurant without having eaten there? Probably not, and yet the risk is minimal: a bad dinner. Yet financial advisors expect CPAs to refer clients without personally experiencing their level of professionalism and expertise? This is high risk—a bad experience with a referred advisor and the CPA is likely to lose a client.
We hear Douglas’ narrative frequently. He’s the leader of an elite team that provides comprehensive wealth management services to a wealthy clientele (over $2 billion AUM), yet when I asked how many CPAs have visited his office to experience his team’s wealth management process, his answer was a sheepish, “None.”
We break showcasing your client experience into a two-step process:
- Step 1: Reach out to the CPAs of your top 25 clients. If you know them, move one to Step 2. If you don’t know them, set up a lunch to get to know them and their business.
- Step 2: Invite each CPA to your office so they can experience for themselves the comprehensive nature of their wealth management solutions, quality of their team, and the level of service you provide. You’re not asking them to become a client. You simply want to showcase your client experience.
Step 2 is your Showcase. It’s here where you subject this CPA (or attorney), with whom you have clients in common, to an exercise in experiential learning.
Sounds simple, right? Hardly. First of all, you need to complete the first step. I ask this question in nearly every presentation and only a few hands, if any, are raised affirmatively. However, of advisors who received five or more referrals from CPAs in 2015, 95 percent had showcased their client experience to at least one CPA (45 percent showcased to five or more CPAs).
Back to Douglas, his team began working with one of our coaches and one of their first action steps was to showcase their wealth management process to a CPA of one of their top clients.
To this end, they worked hard, created a presentation that took hours of collaboration amongst team members, and then delivered what was intended to be a command performance for this CPA. According to their coach, “To say it flopped would be too strong. But they overwhelmed this poor CPA. Eight team members and the CPA were sitting around their conference table, the PowerPoint presentation was like a 70-page glossy brochure that they never got through, and although the CPA’s comments were insightful—“I like how you solve all sorts of non-financial problems for your clients”—it wasn’t what they’d hoped for.
Fade in, fade out three weeks later: 10 slides, two partners, a CPA, a deli lunch and a 45-minute ‘showcase’ discussion. The feedback was: “You’ve blown me away—this is really impressive.”
What had changed? A lot, but nothing of substance. Here’s the short list:
- 10 key slides they use during client review meeting—ditching the 70-slide glitzy sales pitch.
- Two senior advisors involved in the showcase—rather than every specialist on the team.
- Showcase during lunch, with lunch provided—rather than after the market closed.
- Personally introducing the CPA to team members, before and after the showcase.
- Making the showcase conversational, similar to an affluent client review where questions and further discussion points are natural—rather than a one-way capabilities presentation.
- Making the environment warm and comfortable, from greeting by receptionist, to relaxed and friendly environment, to the lunch, to the actual showcase.
- Attitude of humility (we work hard for our clients), rather than arrogance (we’re the best).
According to their coach, the team’s ‘ah-ha’ was multifaceted. First, they were a bit nervous about scaling back the presentation as they were concerned the review wouldn’t cover all their capabilities. Second, they were all amazed at how well their revised showcase was received. And finally, they were pleasantly surprised with how natural it was for them to showcase in this manner.
It’s only been a couple of months, but Douglas’ team has already received five new clients from two CPAs.
The bottom line: If you’re serious about getting more business from CPAs and attorneys, it’s time to start showcasing your practice.
Take the following quiz to see if you’re ready to showcase your practice to CPAs: https://www.oechsli.com/cpa-showcase-readiness-quiz
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com