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Should I continue with this $1m prospect?

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Sep 3, 2007 11:37 pm

Bluestar, you've had coffee with this woman, taken her to lunch and acted as her driver for the day. Where has this all lead? Has she made any type of commitment to you? Do you feel that you have used your precious time wisely?

Being nice is great but you need to also be viewed as a true professional in what you do. All good relationships are built on mutual respect and without it you will have a miserable future with this client. Earn her respect by being the best adviser possible, not by being her servant. Otherwise when the market plummets, an investment choice goes south, etc.. you will be forever be in the position of trying to justify your value and expertise.

If someone has a legitimate reason for not coming to your office (medical problem, etc) then fine; otherwise she has no reason not to come in. This isn't a power play on your part; it's because you are busy and have other clients that need you. You need to explain that you're there for your clients just as she would want you available for her if she becomes a client (and you decide to accept her). Best of luck on this; I've been through similiar situations and more often than not they were a waste of time.

Sep 3, 2007 11:42 pm

Telling a prospect that you don’t have time for them is not a way to win their business.

Sep 4, 2007 12:03 am

To the original poster.... If you were asked to drop someone off somewhere, after a meeting, and that somewhere was on your way to wherever you were going, ok, I could see that.

Otherwise, you and your prospect need to decide whether you are being hired/interviewed/whatever, as a Financial Advisor, or a Personal Concierge.

I understand the pull of a potential million dollar client as well as anyone, but you really need to be smart about it. Dont get into a relationship that so obviously will render you subservient. Thats what this is all about.

Sep 4, 2007 3:48 am

This is pimping for new business as we say at amp.  You should have a certain way of doing business and this shouldn't be one of them: at the mercy of the clients.

At the get go, you should have said, "excuse me, I have other client meetings and we'll have to meet at a more convenient time.  Give me a call when you have more time to discuss your finances.  May I call you a cab?  Have a nice afternoon."

Sep 4, 2007 1:43 pm

It would be interesting to see the response if you simply told her you can’t give her an “asset allocation” without knowing her entire financial picture (which you know you can’t, anyway), that you’d also need to see copies of her last two years’ of tax returns, and then went into a “how is your health” conversation. If she lives in SF and owns her own place, AND has $1mm in taxable account, AND money is coming from somewhere else, she has an estate planning issue. The next step would be some preliminary life insurance qualifiers - getting her to sign some forms! That would be her “tell” - she’ll either see you as something other than a stock jockey or not. Can you charge fees?

Sep 4, 2007 6:48 pm

How about the French Laundry, Julie’s Kitchen and Fresco lunch with tour at Robert Mondavi’s.  Wine tasting at Coppola’s…mud bath and massage at Calistoga. Tasting at Berringers, Don Chandon…We stayed at Villagio in Yountville.  This was nice, but not as nice as the Heritage House.  All in all, great food, great wine (and some not to my liking)…oh and Charles Krug, Sterling, Grgich…but now it is over and back to work.  We also had a picnic lunch at…hell, I can’t remember…  

Sep 4, 2007 8:07 pm

[quote=Quincy Teacher]

Gosh Mike, I'm flattered that you pay so much attention to me.[/quote]

Imagine how we feel, with you spending so much attention on us.

BTW, your story about what you claim to have done doesn't change the fact that you posted here throughout the weekend....

Sep 4, 2007 9:27 pm

Ah…yes V Sattui…and it was packed.  Great time…will definately go back to try more of the 400 wineries in the area.

Sep 5, 2007 10:59 pm

OK here is what happened during the second meeting.

Met prospect at her home at 9:30 am.  She said let's find a coffee shop to sit down.  Went to starbucks and went thru same routine; $6 and change.  She said she has very good impressioin of me from last time.  Some small talks ensued, but the conversaton could not stay on investments.

She had said lat time that she would invite her brother who is a big executive at some firm.  So I asked her where she is.  She gave me some story that he's not back from a biz trip yet.  By then I kind of decided she's phony; but I was curious about her lunch plan.

At 10 am she said I need to stop by the bank, let's continue afterwards.  Took her to the bank which is 10 blocks away.  When she came out it was close to 10:50 am.  I suggest going back to starbucks, but she suggested we go to Olive Garden for some very good salad.  Looks like she's eating healthy these days.

At that point I told her (polite through the end), Ms. XYZ, this initial getting-to-know-you process is both for you to see if we are good enough for you, as well as for us to see whether we can serve you.  I don't think we can serve you.

My only "retaliation" was having her sit in my car after that message, as I took her home.

So folks, the biggest lesson I learned from this episode is that, yes, a person of $1 mil networth CAN risk that embarrassment just for a free salad.

Anyone want her phone number?

Sep 5, 2007 11:07 pm

Anyone want her phone number?
 No, but I’ll take yours. I might have some money to invest and I’m hungry.

Sep 6, 2007 1:29 am

Good for you, bluestar.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

You learned a lesson, and you didn’t allow yourself to become an eternal errand boy.  Learn from this going forward and it will have been a reasonable investment.  Ignore it and repeat the same mistake and it will be shame on you.

Dust off your shoes, turn your back on her and begin again.  There is a sea of deserving clients waiting for your help. 

Go find them.

Sep 6, 2007 4:59 am

[quote=bluestar]So folks, the biggest lesson I learned from
this episode is that, yes, a person of $1 mil networth CAN
risk that embarrassment just for a free salad.[/quote]

Did you think HNW people are different than you and me?

Sep 6, 2007 1:19 pm

[quote=AllREIT][quote=bluestar]So folks, the biggest lesson I learned from this episode is that, yes, a person of $1 mil networth CAN risk that embarrassment just for a free salad.[/quote]

Did you think HNW people are different than you and me?

Are you saying you'd do what she did? Personally I think the woman has a screw loose, and in that regard, people with money are just as  suspectible to lunacy as people without.

Sep 6, 2007 3:47 pm


I have an ad in a paper advertising asset management service.  Last week I received a phone call from a prospect, who asked me to meet her at a coffee shop near her house.

I met her on Friday 10 am at starbucks.  She's an 60 year old lady.  Once in the coffee shop, naturally I bought coffee for both of us.  This woman ordered the biggest cup of some exotic coffee drink, asked for hot water and other stuff, needing a tray to carry all her stuff.

Once we sat down, she pulled out a Fidelity statement.  On it she had highlighted the balance number, and ask me to read the number to her, which is $1.2 mil.  I guess she was trying to make sure I get it that it is a $1million+ acct.

She started talking about herself, telling me how many investments her family has, and that she had never worked a day in her life, and that she married well and raised 3 good children who are doctors and lawyer, etc.

In between talking about herself we briefly touched about investments but she was very unfocused.

Suddenly she said she forgot some document at her doctors office and asked if I can drive her there.  I did.

Then when we got out of the doctor's office, she said if you still have time now we can talk about investments; let's find a place.  I said OK and she suggested going to Pasta Pamadoro for some "salad".

Once there, she went into a ordering spree again.  She ordered soup, then Salmon salad with an extra piece of salmon, separate plate of spinach, two glasses of red wine.  She barely could eat half the food and asked for boxes to take food home. 

We were not done yet, she needed dissert and coffee.  The bill came out to be $70, with my portion costing just $13.  This is not an outrageous amount when it comes to wining and dining in our industry, but she was so obviously abusing the courtesy and shamelessly doing so too.

Again, in between talking about herself we talked about investments here and there, but she's still very unfocused.

Before we parted she asked me to meet her again on Wednesday, and tell her what I allocation I would suggest for a $1 mil portfolio that will generate 8%-10% annual return.  "Oh, by the way" she said, "I need to go to the bank first on Wednesday".


Do you think this is a serious lead?  She is obviously abusing my time and my T&E budget, no question there.  I just can't determine whether she is genuinely considering my service, or has no such intention at all.

I do have some clients who from time to time treat me like their chauffeur and expect me to treat them to lunch, but they feel comfortable about it since they have given me business.

I have never met a PROSPECT who are so bold.  But on the flip side, maybe that boldness indicates she's serious.... I don't know. 

What do you think?


Are you an indy?  Either way, doesn't your company have a proposed way to "doing business"?

I disagreee with the above suggestion, you don't "assume" you have her business.

With this type of client who wants to abuse your time, it would be best setting up a specific time in your office to discuss her finances.  After the first cup of coffee, I would have said, "we're going 'dutch".

I'm curious to at what lengths brokers go to in getting a client!!!

Sep 6, 2007 3:50 pm

#1You should have given her an "If then" close, "Sure, I'll drive you to the bank, but then we're going to my office so we can get your accounts open and switched over from Charlie Schwab." Not a question, a statement of fact, an assumed close.

#2If she balked, then you say, "Well, if when you decide that I'm the guy that you want to provide you with all the great services that my firm offer, then I'll be more than happy to work with and for you. I'll be glad to drop you off at the bank, but then I NEED  to go to my office to deal with my existing clients." (I can't believe you waited 50 minutes for her and then blew her off.)

#3If she balks further, then close for DNC exemption, "Well, Ms Jones, I'll be happy to keep you in my tickler file, and when I have some ideas I think will help you, if it's ok with you I'll give you a call." 

Good points, though.  Just disagree with the assumption outlined in #1 above.  You obviously need to brushup on your Opening and closing techniques.  Don't let the client abuse your time.  Little old ladies in sixty year old range like the attention of being catered to but doesn't mean they will give your their business as you obviously shown here.

Sep 6, 2007 3:55 pm


 Pay no attention to whomit. He's the guy who thinks he can close anyone. (And he's right, as long as it's an imaginary sale hypothetically conducted on an internet forum.)

 In the real world, it will serve you well to be honest when identifying a Qualified Prosepect. A Qualified Posepect is one who A) Has money to invest AND B) Has the desire and ability to invest.

 Yourwoman may or may not have had A, but she ABSOLUTELY lacked B.

Sep 6, 2007 4:01 pm

What lengths should he go to, though to get business?  bluest needs to have his processes standardized without having someone abuse his time, wouldn’t you agree?  Suggest preliminary questions first to ensure client isn’t bs’ing you.  Tell the client you ain’t running no escort service.  We know about people getting the free lunches at ameriprizesux (it ain’t no prize! to work there) but you should be able to easily tell when you are being swindled.  The customer is always right but they have to be your customer first!

Sep 6, 2007 4:05 pm


He closed, we all close all the time. The question is what we close for.

Bluestar closed for his ego, but not for his business.

He closed the door, and he burned his bridge behind him. More than burning the bridge, he made an enemy out of somebody, which may be ok on an internet forum, but it's just not a smart way to do business. This woman now has a story to tell all of her friends, and Bluestar is the villian in that telling, Ms Jones is Sweet Polly Purebreed. Dumb Dumb Dumb!

Never forget that you don't know who knows whom!

Sep 6, 2007 4:10 pm

Whomit. If blue's post is all true, this woman had no desire to do business and may not even have had any investable assets. Yes, a deal was closed, a free-lunch looser was sent packing. Victory: bluestar.

 You keep on thinking you can will people not only to deal with you, but to have the assets to do so. It's just not a practical theory to share. Not every person willing to speak to you is a legitimate prospect. Only newbies and failures waste time dealing with those identified as the non-qualified.

Sep 6, 2007 4:16 pm

Having assessed the two meetings in totality, I came to the conclusion that this prospect is not worth converting to client.  It was unclear how much more time needs to be invested before conversion, and it was clear she's gonna be a pain to service in the future.  So I cut loss. 

Others might make a different call for the same situation, but my call was to cut loss.

We are "boutique" enough not to need a rigid standardized procedure.  Every prospect and client is different and we do our best to accomodate (this woman does not drive, for example, so insisting her to come to my office would nix any meeting from the beginning).  It's just that this prospect went beyond our ability to accomodate.