When even H&R Block joins the wealth management fray, you know the competition for upper middle class and affluent investors is feverish. Everyone wants rich investors, and they want to manage all of their money. It's like what infamous Willie Sutton said of his bank-robbing career: “It's where the money is.”
H&R Block, which now offers financial advisor services right off its Web site, said in March that its wealth management program signed up 3,248 accounts with $486 million in assets since it was launched in October.
Out of curiosity, I clicked on the H&R Block financial advisors link and navigated the menu. One of the first things the site recommends is: “Find an advisor” (in its network, of course).
The irony is that's what upper middle class and affluent investors are desperately trying to do — find an advisor. Why are they are having so much trouble?
With all those investors searching for advisors while all those advisors are searching for investors, they should be connecting right and left. But that's not the case, and we need to be clear about why. While all those investors are searching, too many advisors are sitting in their offices planning away their future. Every day that goes by without making at least one contact creates a dual problem. First, the opportunities that could have been are gone. Second, the reluctance to take that initiative is more deeply entrenched.
Of course, there are reasons why this “face-to-face reluctance” exists. Many advisors have told me that they don't know how to make contact with upper middle class and affluent investors. The solution is quite simple. Simply pick up the phone, call someone who fits that profile or who might know someone who fits that profile, and arrange a face-to-face meeting. Then decide what you're going to say at that meeting.
I guarantee that if you meet with people every day and ask for introductions or referrals or even just leads, it won't be long before you are in front of the people you have targeted.
Once you begin to successfully penetrate this targeted group, you also need to understand how to navigate the four phases of what I will call the serious money continuum. People who can bring you serious money do not want a face-to-face encounter with another sales person pretending to be an advisor. They want face time with someone who can take care of all their needs.
They want to:
- Know you
They want to know not just your name and company and professional designations, but your personality and character.
- Enjoy working with you
People prefer conducting business with people they like, which can only come after face-to-face interaction.
- Trust you
Building trust is an extension of this visceral feeling they have begun to form. As the interaction continues, you must not fail to call after promising to do so, forget to put something in the mail in a timely fashion, neglect to provide accurate information about anything.
- Value you professionally
Only after a prospect gets to know you, likes you, trusts you and then begins to value you professionally will you have a chance of turning them into a client. As you discover where their dissatisfaction lies, you must be able to provide the solution. That's the value they seek.
I know, this is all common sense. People with serious money aren't stupid. They simply want to make certain they're getting what they need, and what they were promised.
The bottom line is that in order to get quality prospects to know, like, trust and value you professionally — you have to get out of the office and spend time with them. Having a working knowledge of this serious money continuum will make certain you aren't wasting this critical face time.
Matty Oechsli is an author and president of the consulting firm Oechsli Institute. oechsli.com