La Jolla, Calif.—“It seems as though I’m always playing catch-up trying to connect with the CPAs of my clients,” groaned Doug as he was forming in his mind the question he was about to ask: “Are you going to show us a better way to handle this?”
Doug’s question came on the tail end of a role-play during our recent Affluent Marketing Symposium where the objective was to schedule a meeting with a CPA of a top client. Preceding this exercise, I’d asked how many made a concerted effort to meet with the CPAs and attorneys of their top 25 clients. Less than 5 percent of the advisors raised their hands.
This wasn’t our first rodeo; we’ve been conducting these symposiums for years and anticipated this response. In next segment, we walked them through the 3 Steps we’ve gleaned from coaching elite advisors. These steps outline how advisors work with the professionals they have in common with their affluent clients.
Step 1: During the discovery process, before your prospect has become a client, you’re gathering the names and contact information of their CPA, estate attorney, insurance agent and any other professional they might use. Although this step can lead to a financial advisor marketing tactic, the explanation you provide to your prospect is as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, in our role of overseeing the financial affairs for our client’s families, it’s important that we work closely with their CPA, estate attorney and any other professional they might be using.
PAUSE (get acknowledgement)
So, who is your CPA? Who developed your estate plan?
By having this conversation and asking these questions in the discovery meeting, you’ve done a number of things. First, you highlighted your professionalism by including working with their CPA in your value proposition. Second, you’ve subtly sprinkled “dissatisfaction dust” in the mind of your prospect (their advisor isn’t doing this). Third, you’ve gathered the names of these professionals, in particular their CPA, with whom you’ll work with on their behalf. A handful of these CPAs become a component of your high-powered financial advisor marketing plan.
Step 2: You were successful in transforming your affluent prospect into a client. Now it’s time to activate your formal process of contacting these other professionals (CPA, estate attorney, etc.) and introducing yourself. This should occur in the first 30 to 45 days of your new client coming on board. This call will take one of two tracks:
Track 1—a CPA you don’t know…
Hello (CPA's first name), this is (your first and last name), and the reason I’m reaching out to you is that I’ve just begun working with the Boswells, and they’ve informed me that you’re their CPA.
PAUSE (get acknowledgement)
I simply wanted to introduce myself, as we work closely with the other professionals with whom we have clients in common.
I’ve found this works best if we get to know each other. Are you open for lunch anytime over the next couple of weeks?
Not every CPA will agree to have lunch, but if approached properly, most will agree to meet for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Track 2—a CPA you’ve worked with and have had this discussion before…
Hello (CPA’s first name), this is (your name) and I’ve just begun working with the Boswells. I understand you’re their CPA.
When’s a good time to grab lunch and share notes?
You’ve already worked with this CPA on behalf of another client; therefore you can be direct in scheduling a time to discuss your new client.
Step 3: Here is where you’re asking questions and establishing the context of your professional relationship. It’s important to frame these questions as part of a conversation—this isn’t an inquisition. Your objective is to develop professional rapport, and if you sense healthy rapport, you’re going to attempt to incorporate this CPA into your financial advisor marketing plan. The following are questions elite advisors typically ask:
- As we get started, is there anything from your perspective we should be aware of?
- What would you like from us this year, in terms of documents, that could help you—and when is the best time to get them to you?
- Is there anything you can tell me about their former advisor—that we could improve upon?
- Would you be open to my contacting you a couple of times throughout the course of the year?
By applying these three steps with new affluent clients, not only will you be servicing them more comprehensively, you’ll be turbo-charging your financial advisor marketing plan. The odds are that you’ll be able to develop a referral alliance partnership with 5 percent of the CPAs you have in common. But that’s all you need to accelerate your growth.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com