Upping the Referral Game

Upping the Referral Game

Referral alliances with CPAs, attorneys or other professionals are one of the top ways affluent investors are introduced to their financial advisor, according to the Oechsli Institute’s 2015 Affluent Investor Research. So how do elite financial advisors develop effective referral alliances?

Step One:

Schedule a meeting with each CPA and attorney used by a top 25 client – It’s important that you consider yourself a professional peer of other professionals used by your affluent clients. With that mindset, you need to schedule a lunch with every one of these CPAs and attorneys. Not all clients will be using an attorney, but most will have a CPA.

During this lunch you’ve got a number of objectives:

a) Position yourself as a true professional by sharing relevant information regarding your mutual client, asking tax-related questions (if a CPA), and listening.

b) Uncover personal information—such as about their spouse, children, hobbies, background, etc.—and use this to develop rapport.

c) Whenever possible, establish a social follow-up point of contact. Even elite advisors aren’t able to establish relationships with every CPA they meet. But if they meet with the top 25, they’ll usually hit it off professionally and personally with four or five who have the right clients and mindset.

d) Treat these new professional relationships like gold. Over the course of 24 to 36 months, they can help you take your business to a completely new level.

Step Two:

Meet with every CPA and attorney to whom you’ve referred clients – Most financial advisors consider this a one-way street; they give referrals to these professionals but rarely receive any in return.

a) Create a referral alliance binder composed of tabs for each professional you’ve referred. Under each tab, there should be two additional tabs: one for the clients you’ve referred and one for clients referred to you. The second list is usually much shorter.

b) Schedule a lunch or dinner meeting with each professional to review your mutual clients and update each other.

c) Start with clients you referred; give your professional update and then ask for an update from the CPA. Next, turn to the CPA’s tab, and repeat the process.

These meetings serve a dual purpose. First, they showcase your professionalism, as it’s unlikely that any other financial advisor in your area is doing this. Secondly, a subliminal message is clearly delivered: You have not received your fair share of referrals. Usually a referral occurs within a couple of weeks.

Step Three:

Systematize your referral-giving process – Elite advisors make a big deal of referring an affluent client to another professional, and rightfully so. The following is the process we coach:

a) Call and schedule the appointment for your client with this other professional. Send a letter confirming the appointment you scheduled.

b) Accompany your client to the appointment you scheduled. Although it’s the other professional’s show, you want to provide insight, help your client relax, interpret when necessary, and be a visible reminder of where this referral originated.

c) Send a follow-up letter, summarizing the meeting and thanking the CPA.

d) Call the CPA in six months to provide an update on your clients and get an update in return.

Stop referring clients to professionals who refuse to reciprocate. Elite advisors will sever these relationships when this refusal becomes obvious; so should you.

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