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A Can't-Miss Way to Build COI Relationships

It’s based on the idea that you should be current in all areas of your clients’ financial lives, not just their investments.

Centers of influence like attorneys and accountants can be wonderful referral sources. I’ve got a campaign for you that’s “can’t-miss.” It’s client-focused, COI-friendly and builds your knowledge base. It’s based on the idea that you should be current in all areas of your clients’ financial lives, not just their investments.

Here’s the campaign in brief. You set up calls individually with your COIs to get current on each other’s recommendations. You then work to set up group calls for the same purpose, bringing noncompeting COIs together. Finally, you arrange a client-facing call, encouraging panelists to invite their clients. It’s a natural progression that helps everyone involved. Let’s dive into these three components a little deeper:

Step 1: One-on-One Educational Calls

The purpose of these is to stay current with what’s happening in each other’s fields. While you likely have a general understanding of their space and vice versa, this call offers a real-time knowledge booster. This meeting could be as short as 30 minutes—them giving you 15 minutes of what they’re telling clients right now and then you returning the favor. These calls should be preplanned, not impromptu so that everyone has time to prepare. You could consider an email that says:

“Can I get a few minutes on your calendar? I’d love to hear some of what you’re telling clients right now. I’m happy to share some investment-related insights as well.”

Step 2: Roundtable Discussions

As you engage various attorneys, accountants, mortgage brokers and other professionals, think about who might enjoy a roundtable discussion as a follow-up to the one-on-one educational calls you’re making. These discussions could include three to four professionals who have an interest in hearing about the trends, issues and opportunities in related, but noncompetitive fields. In organizing this roundtable, you might say:

“I really enjoyed our conversation. I’ve spoken with a few others in related fields and I wonder if doing a group call would make sense to keep us all up to speed. I’ve put feelers out to (high-profile COI) and a couple of others to see if they have an interest as well.”

Step 3: Client-Facing Webinars

The next and most marketing-forward part of this campaign is the idea of doing a client-facing webinar with one or more of these COIs. You could plan a presentation in which you both share key insights and field questions at the end. If you’re going for scale, you both invite your email lists. If you’re going smaller scale, perhaps you choose a subset of clients who have traits in common. When you’re framing this concept, you could say …

“I was thinking about our recent call and how valuable it would be for some of my clients to hear. Would you be open to doing a webinar with me? I would invite my clients and you’re welcome to do the same.”

This strategy takes a little work but puts you in a prime position when you have a client in need of investment advice. If you’re thinking, “Why don’t I just call and pitch these COIs directly?” it’s been our experience that the harder we “push” for referrals, the fewer referrals we get. These are professionals who’ve been overly targeted by financial advisors throughout the years. Show them you’re a knowledge worker, and that you care about your clients, and the referrals will come in spades.


Stephen Boswell is a partner with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell

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