ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

Four Steps to Becoming the Primary Advisor for Top Clients

April 9th, 2013

by Dan Richards

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Dan Richards

Recently, an advisor who had successfully persuaded an investor with many millions of dollars to open an account asked me how to turn this foothold into a larger share of this client’s assets.

Managing or controlling clients’ full investment portfolios is what makes one a “trusted advisor,” but few advisors attain this status. Advisors can’t overcome this challenge, particularly with larger clients who may have other historical relationships in place and in some cases don’t want to concentrate all their assets with one advisor.

There are four steps to increasing your share assets in cases where other advisors are also working with a key client.

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Share your goal with clients

When talking to top clients, be careful that they don’t feel that your primary goal in every interaction is to gain additional assets, rather than focusing on doing the best possible job with the money they’ve given you. Here’s one way to articulate your goal of increasing assets that is unlikely to offend any reasonable client:

My goal with all the clients I work with is to earn the right to be their primary advisor. And over time that would be my objective in our relationship also.”

Begin with the end in mind

The late Stephen Covey was best known for the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” One of those habits was to “ start with the end in mind” – to clearly articulate your key goal going into any decision and then to have that goal shape your actions.

So if a key goal with large clients is to increase your share of their assets or become their principle advisor, use that as a frame of reference for all your interactions. I talked to one advisor who uses an “assumptive” approach – he acts as if he was this client’s only advisor, unless he gets feedback that suggests he should back off. For example, he engages clients in conversations about estate planning and offers to facilitate family discussions around estate plans

Many affluent investors have large gaps when it comes to their estate plans; this was highlighted in some research by US trust, profiled in this article.

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