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    An Alternative to Big Spending?

    At first blush, the answer seems simple. If you want to get more clients, you just need to advertise and promote your practice more. It's true that higher-performing advisories allocate more of their budget to marketing, but as you might have guessed, the answer is actually more complex.

    amount financial advisors spend on marketing graph
    *Source: Client Acquisition Costs For Financial Advisor Marketing Strategies (kitces.com)
    **Source: The Oechsli Institute, 2015 Elite Advisors Study

    There are plenty of advisors who try their hands at marketing to no avail. They conduct webinars, attend industry conferences, update their website, and deploy whatever new marketing tactic is presented as the silver bullet to a dwindling client base.

    Often, financial advisors see a small bump in their client base or AUM after trying out these tactics. But that bump quickly fades, and the prospect of doing it all over again leaves them feeling burnt out on business development. Fortunately, steady, consistent growth is possible with marketing, and you don't need to work yourself ragged to achieve it.

    What’s the Secret to Successful Marketing?

    The reality is that marketing—when done well—does yield results. In fact, advisors that regularly focus on marketing and client acquisition tend to have roughly double the AUM of other advisors. 

    These growth-oriented advisors are doing two things that help them get ahead with their marketing:

    1. They are consistent: Whatever form their marketing takes, they do it regularly on at least an annual basis.
    2. They use proven marketing techniques: Successful advisors don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

    To find out how to get clients as a financial advisor, all you need to do is be consistent and use proven methods. Admittedly, that may seem a little vague. What exactly are proven marketing techniques anyways? Let’s take a closer look at a light-lift, high-impact marketing technique that should come very naturally to financial advisors: relationship marketing.

    What Is Relationship Marketing?

    Relationship marketing is an excellent tactic for any business, but it’s especially effective in the professional services industry—including financial advising. We recommend it as a primary focus for financial advisors’ marketing efforts because whether they know it or not, financial advisors are already engaged in relationship marketing.

    Rather than generate short-term leads and campaign-dependent demand for your business, relationship marketing builds customer loyalty, satisfaction, and lifetime value over the long term. If you spend a lot of time and energy delivering an unparalleled experience for your clients, you’re already performing relationship marketing in one way or another.

    However, there’s more to relationship marketing than merely providing exceptional service to your clients. Fortunately, relationship marketing tactics should feel quite natural for financial advisors. After all, relationships are the foundation of a financial advisor’s business. And when those relationships are nurtured and grown over time, advisors can reap the primary fruit of relationship marketing: referrals.

    Learn how AssetMark can make a difference in your firm's business performance.

    Here’s How to Get Clients as a Financial Advisor Through Referrals

    Fundamentally, you have two sources of referrals, and therefore two classes of relationships to nourish:

    1. Your clients
    2. Your “centers of influence”

    We’ll get to what a center of influence is and why it can truly take your relationship marketing to the next level. For now, let’s focus on your clients.

    financial advisor client meeting


    Your Clients: The Referral Source You Know

    For many advisors, the only consistent source of growth they have is satisfied clients referring friends and family members or contributing additional assets to their management.

    This is great, and you shouldn’t stop providing service to your clients that’s so exceptional that they can’t help but mention you to their family and friends.

    But there are other ways to drive referrals from your clients. The most important thing to remember when being intentional about getting referrals from clients is that you must make it easy for them. Here are a few ideas. 

    1. Share Your Booking Link. You could, for instance, hand out a calendar link, such as one supported by Calendly or YouCanBook.Me. These links allow clients to book appointments with you based on certain parameters. You could set yours up to allow for 20-minute meetings anytime between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, for example. Tell your clients to book a meeting with you anytime they want to discuss something. Not only will this improve your client experience, but you can also give them permission to distribute that link out to whoever else they think could benefit. It’s simple, easy, and requires just a few clicks to distribute and act upon.
    2. Host an Event. Consider the scenario where you want to be introduced to your client’s family members. Asking outright might net you some results, but it could come across as awkward. Instead, you can make it easy for your clients to introduce their family members by, for example, hosting a holiday event. Give out a gift or hire a photographer to take holiday photos for your clients. A tactic like this will make it much easier for your clients to introduce you to family and friends that could benefit from your services.

    There's a wide range of additional tactics you can deploy, but the important thing to remember is that you’re competing against apathy and forgetfulness. Making it easy for your clients to refer you will help you clear that obstacle.

    outsourcing investment study

    Another smart way to increase referrals: outsourcing asset management.

    Centers of Influence: An Untapped Resource

    Centers of influence are simply influential individuals in your network. They’re the professionals that your clients frequent—the CPAs, attorneys, IT professionals, small business owners, even their personal trainers. These are individuals who have some sort of authority in a community as leaders, advisors, experts, and so on.

    Focusing your attention on your centers of influence is where you can take your relationship marketing to the next level. Establishing your reputation with these individuals can have a multiplier effect on your referrals and word-of-mouth reputation. Here’s how to cultivate a relationship with your centers of influence.

    1. Identify Them

    You probably already know several centers of influence already. For financial advisors, these are often CPAs and attorneys. But you can expand your list of centers of influence by asking your clients directly. 

    See if you can get your clients to refer you to their personal trainer, their doctor, their IT professional, or any other member of the professional services industry. After a while, you’ll know who carries the most weight amongst your clients’ networks.

    2. Make Contact

    After identifying your centers of influence, reach out. Tell them you have a client in common, and that you’re curious about whether you can refer other clients of yours to that individual. 

    This is important—when building relationships with your centers of influence, always offer something first. Commonly, this is the promise to refer clients to their business, but it could also be, say, the opportunity to network at an event you’re hosting with other centers of influence, or any other creative and attractive offer.

    3. Educate Them

    After you’ve established a rapport with your centers of influence, you’ll eventually have the opportunity to ask them to send referrals your way. At that point, the essential thing is to teach them how to recognize when somebody is in need of your services.

    Few people go to their personal trainer or attorney and say, “Gosh, I need a financial advisor, you wouldn’t happen to know one, do you?” More often, they say things like:

    • “I’m changing jobs and don’t know what to do with my 401k.”
    • “College has gotten so expensive! I should probably start saving for my children.”
    • “I’m thinking of retiring soon, but I need to get my finances in order first.”

    By providing a few examples of what people might say or how they might act when they’re in need of your services, you’ll increase the odds that your centers of influence will send a high-fit referral your way.

    Putting It All Together

    When thinking about how to get clients as a financial advisor, few advisors turn to relationship marketing. But financial advising is all about relationships, so leveraging relationships and the skill set required to build them is a natural and effective way for advisors to grow.

    Most advisors are passively benefitting from client referrals, but they can take a more intentional, proactive approach. So long as they’re consistent in their outreach, they can increase the rate of referrals they gain from clients and also gain more referrals from influential members of their network.

    Of course, figuring out how to get clients as a financial advisor should be a consistent pursuit.  While relationship marketing is a great start, it’s best when used as one component in a long-term strategy.

    If you’re curious about putting relationship marketing into practice and how to incorporate it into your overall growth strategy, reach out to one of the business development professionals at AssetMark? Oftentimes, an outside perspective can go a long way toward spotting growth opportunities.

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    AssetMark is a leading provider of extensive wealth management and technology solutions that help financial advisors meet the ever-changing needs of their clients and businesses.


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