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With a failure rate as high as 90 percent, the financial advisor profession is a hard one to crack. But with a proper start — and a little help from seasoned advisors — you can set yourself up for long-term success.
I have been in the financial planner industry for several years, and I have worked closely with professionals who have been extremely successful at bringing in clients. I’ve been involved in managing clients, marketing and coaching.
The following are tips that I have seen to be some of the most effective ways to succeed in this business.
Don’t Start from Scratch
Not everyone is skilled at building a client base from the ground up, and this can take several years to accomplish to be able to just support yourself. There are a few ways to get around this.
1. Find an Advisor Who Is Looking to Retire
The average age of an advisor is early to mid-50s. Cerulli Associates found that one-third of advisors are expected to retire over the next 10 years.
Through the Financial Planning Association or Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in your area, you can find an advisor who is thinking about succession planning and is interested in selling their practice.
I am currently consulting with an advisor who has worked for a firm for less than 10 years and is in the process of buying out the practice over nine years.
2. Network with Centers of Influence
CPAs are usually viewed as one of the most trusted relationships by their clients. Develop a rapport with a CPA.
You can refer each other business and build a client base that is both collaborative and mutually beneficial for a client.
3. Join Forces with a Former Employer
One of my former employers worked for a local Fortune 500 energy company. He maintained a network of relationships from this company and soon became the go-to person regarding benefits and how to invest in the company’s 401(k).
This led to a continuous stream of referrals from existing clients. As a result, he’s developed a niche, specializing in soon to be retirees, company stock concentration and overall asset allocation.
The adage “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it” also applies to building a base of clients. The method of communicating your message is especially important to build trust and your brand, which can lead to more business.
Leverage social media by posting videos on topics such as, “Should you take a company pension as a lump sum payment or as an annuity?” Post this video on LinkedIn, YouTube and your company website via a blog. By posting online on a regular basis, you can build a following and be perceived to be an expert.
Take, for example, a career changer I met recently. He had been on Wall Street for several years and transitioned into his own financial advisory practice. He routinely posts videos on tax planning (he is also an enrolled agent) and sample financial plans, showcasing what prospective clients can expect when they hire him. The financial press consistently quotes him at no charge, a benefit you can access with a Financial Planning Association membership.
Another great way to build your brand is to host a Q&A with an expert and invite people in your network to attend. This can be done at little cost, especially if done virtually through Zoom or another virtual platform. Try focusing on complex topics such as the best Social Security claiming strategies. As a bonus, the Social Security Administration provides speakers for free.
You Build It, They Will Come
Differentiate yourself from other advisors by having an awesome client experience. Build systems and processes at your firm to ensure nothing gets missed.
I have automated the financial planning process at multiple advisory firms by building processes, leveraging technology and streamlining tasks. With this approach, we were able to have a turnkey client focused platform — adding customization when needed — to build our client base. This directly translated to increases in revenue, which then led to increases in referrals without expending resources toward marketing.
Investing in a business coach can also help you discover ways to stand out. A coach can help you clarify your business goals, find a niche market, create a business plan and hold yourself accountable.
I have been involved in several coaching programs, and it can be a transformative experience but only if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
A business coach can help you build your brand. One of the many things I learned was to have all communication lead to your website.
In one coaching session, the coach had us write down all the services we provide and how many hours we work in a week to ensure we had been spending the time seeing clients/prospects who fit our goals and service model. This process also ensured a delegation of duties when possible, so everyone is doing what they are best at.