With the wealth management industry more competitive than ever, the role that accountants, lawyers, insurance professionals and other centers of influence (COIs) play in introducing their clients to wealth management advisors is critical.
But as an advisor, cinching that all-important referral goes beyond demonstrating that you have the solutions and expertise to serve a COI’s clients. In fact, according to a recent study by BNY Mellon Wealth Management, advisors are most likely to land a referral when they demonstrate a deep understanding of the COI and his or her own needs.
The study explored 10 of the key attributes that COIs look for in an advisor. According to the results, the following four are responsible for 61% of the impact in terms of driving referrals: the sense that an advisor “has an understanding of my professional goals and objectives,” “has an understanding of my business model,” “has an understanding of my clientele” and “promotes a comfortable and effective working relationship.”
While COIs ranked client-focused characteristics such as “offers products and solutions to serve my clients” as most important when considering partnering with a new advisor, these characteristics had just a 26% impact on the decision to make a referral.
The results underscore the importance of genuine relationship building as opposed to less personal strategies wealth managers often rely on to generate business, such as publishing white papers or participating in industry events. In fact, education and events are just a fraction (13%) of what COIs say drives them to refer a client to an advisor.
Strategies to Consider
To show COIs that you are invested in their needs, focus on asking the right questions and practicing active listening. Ask questions that zero in on what differentiates them in their business, what their value proposition is and where their pain points are. Show them how you can help, whether it’s by accentuating their value proposition or by focusing on a particular challenge they’re facing.
The frequency of communication also counts. For example, it’s best to avoid engaging with a CPA during the busy tax season, unless it’s to share something that is critically useful and tactical for them at that time. Coming through with the right information and the right time reinforces your understanding of the COI’s business and clientele.
When it comes to education and events, it’s all about creating something unique. Hosting a 250-person lunch around a stale topic isn’t going to make you stand out. Whatever event or seminar you host should have a fresh point of view on a meaningful topic, and leave attendees with clear, actionable takeaways. At a time when many people are working remotely, and many events are virtual, this becomes even more important, as it’s harder to create an experience that feels differentiated. As an advisor, it’s important to ask yourself what fresh new ideas you’re bringing to the table and strive to engage people in the most efficient manner. The one gift we can give everybody is time—make every minute count.
Ben McGloin is head of advice, planning and fiduciary services at BNY Mellon Wealth Management.