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Walking Referral Alliances Through Your Client Experience

Walking Referral Alliances Through Your Client Experience

Imagine for a moment that you’re a prominent CPA in town. How many advisors have you met over the years? 100? More? How many have claimed to provide “holistic wealth management” and “high level service?” Probably all of them…

In our world of over-promising and under-delivering, it takes PROOF that you are the real deal. If you’re really trying to differentiate your business with a CPA or attorney, walk them through your process.

In this walk-through, you’re simply showing what you do for clients. Explain to them some of the common issues you find in your discovery meeting, the “ah-ha” moments that occur during the planning process, and the points at which you might mention the need for a quality CPA. Done properly, the CPA walks away with a deeper professional respect for what you do. They’ve experienced what it would be like for one of their clients to become one of your clients.

Here’s how this process works:


1. Call the referral alliance to suggest a walk-through of your process. You can use some variation of the following language:

“We want you to have a full understanding of what we’re doing for the clients you’ve so graciously sent our way. We’ve shared some of our process with you in the past, but it’s kind of like talking to someone about a painting – you have to see it to get the full effect. We’d set aside an hour and walk you through our process just as if you were a client – our team, our tools, the whole deal. Are you open for this?”

2. Set a date and time and send a confirmation email.

3. Send over a new client packet (the same that you’d send to any new client) and make sure they know NOT to fill it out. Your objective isn’t to actually land them as a client in this meeting (although that may happen as a result).

4. Call their assistant and ask for the referral alliance partner’s favorite restaurant, meal, and beverage. You’ll have this ready when they arrive at your office.

5. Host the actual meeting pretty much like you would an actual client meeting, but instead of asking questions directly of the referral alliance (i.e. What are your visions of retirement?), it’s best to describe what you’d be asking a new client (i.e. This is where we typically ask questions about visions of retirement). Be sure to show off your financial planning tools, walk them through your clients’ online portal, and introduce them to each team member with a brief description of their role. Also be ready to share a few relatable stories that showcase the type of client with whom you work best.

6. Send a handwritten thank-you note within 24 hours of their visit. Thank them for their time and express enthusiasm for working with them in the future.


This process gets better with time. For existing COIs, call them with the aforementioned language and suggest a meeting. Going forward with any new COIs, mention the need for this type of meeting early on in your interactions. If you build rapport, make a quality connection, and speak about this walk-through meeting with conviction – they’ll attend – and if the meeting goes as planned, they walk away fully impressed with your professionalism and process.



Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.@StephenBoswell @KevinANichols

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