Financial advisors who have achieved high levels of success in the industry seem to have a place in the market in terms of acquiring and retaining customers and increasing revenue. Compared with many new and/or smaller consultants, those who overshadow others tend to be different in the way they do things.
Those who try to take their practice to a new level may benefit by using some of the following strategies. (For more information, see: Why consultants should pay attention to emerging wealthy people.)
Most financial advisors began to rely on referral networks to generate new business. But elite consultants usually take their network to another level, where they promise to get greater rewards for increased loyalty from lawyers, certified public accountants, or other financial or legal service providers. Those who receive actual percentages of income rather than mere discoverer fees or other nominal forms of compensation are obviously more motivated to send their clients to consultants who can meet their needs.
Revenue sharing can also help other professionals better understand and appreciate the services that consultants can provide. For example, a certified public accountant who obtains a life insurance license to share commissions from clients he recommends may be better able to identify when a client is a candidate for a particular product or service because of the training required for the license. (For more information, see: How to attract and recommend over 30s.)
Many elite consultants also choose to provide and accept recommendations through personal introductions, rather than asking customers to find or contact people they are told to meet. This personal contact also helps to clarify the nature of the referral and prevent possible misunderstandings.
Another strategy used by some of them is to provide free consultations, where they will provide potential clients with an honest second opinion on how their current consultants meet their needs. Of course, the point is that the consultant will tell those who appear to be in good shape that they cannot substantially improve their situation. But this honest, free form of interaction can make others looking for alternative perspectives more inclined to look for them. (For more information, see: Don’t ignore millennials who are not yet wealthy.)
Go wide, but go narrow
Most elite consultants also tend to adopt one of two approaches in terms of the range of products and services they provide. Some consultants choose to focus on one or a few high-end services, such as substandard plans, employee stock options, or alternative investments. Others choose to provide comprehensive wealth management, covering all asset classes, including debt, stocks, real estate, precious metals, derivatives, corporate ownership and partnerships, alternative products, and tax credits.
Of course, no matter which path you choose, elite consultants strive to become the absolute masters of their own craftsmanship. Some consultants also choose to focus on specific types of clients that require a higher level of knowledge or proficiency, such as medical professionals or corporate executives.
Focus on your customers
Many of the most successful consultants also seek to establish and maintain a smaller client base with higher net worth, rather than a broad mid-range client base. They understand their customers on a more intimate level and provide a personalized service that retail companies cannot match. (For more information, see: How to attract high-net-worth customers.)
Their marketing efforts are also usually more focused and monitored to maximize their results. Many of them use computer programs to closely track all their marketing activities and results, and show them which method of generating customers is the most effective. Few elite consulting companies now use methods such as telephone calls, mass emails, and even seminars; these have given way to digital marketing and simple word of mouth, what they can do for their clients. Elite consultants who do use seminars usually also make them small, informal transactions that do not contain any specific sales promotion, and are usually purely informational.
One of the most important marketing tools for boutique companies today is a comprehensive website, which provides a platform through which customers can view and access their portfolios, keep in touch with advisors, and provide mobile access via smartphones and tablets. Companies seeking more sophisticated forms of marketing often sponsor events in areas that are of interest to the type of potential clients that consultants hope to become clients. Compared with sporting events or other similar pastimes, wine and caviar tastings or other similar elegant evenings will attract wealthier people. (For more information, see: Tips for top high-net-worth clients.)
Elite consultants usually require new clients to deposit a minimum amount, such as $500,000, before working with them. This requirement ensures that any customer they work with can bring them enough income and it is worth their time.
Simplify your business
Most elite consulting companies are able to effectively allocate tasks among employees so that company leaders can spend more time interacting with customers and meeting their needs according to their personal needs. Administrative assistants, compliance officers, marketing experts, and traders all have their positions, but high-net-worth clients usually only know or talk to the owner or advisor who opened the account in the first place. Division of labor can lead to higher efficiency and fewer errors-and higher customer satisfaction. Automated computer programs such as robo-advisors can also save advisors from having to spend time on lower-level portfolio management chores.
There is no correct or best way to build an elite financial advisory business, but the approach of using smaller or less successful advisors is unlikely to produce good results. As in any business area, the real key to success is being able to think outside the box and connect with the customers you need in a way that is not easily copied by your competitors. For more information on how to establish an elite consulting company, please visit the website of the Financial Planning Association www.fpanet.org or the website of the National Association of Personal Financial Consultants www.napfa.org. (For more information, see: The best way to tap the doctor’s niche.)