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A list of Dan Richards’ previous articles appears at the end of this article.

Dan Richards

In past articles, I’ve discussed how to get prospects off-the-fence when they are thinking about leaving their advisor – by providing concrete proof as to why they would be better off with us than where they are now.

It’s not only investors on-the-fence that need this kind of evidence – even when prospects have been referred to you, you still need to marshal compelling arguments about the benefits they’d get by working  together.

At one time in the distant past – say ten to fifteen years ago – receiving a referral was highly correlated to converting that referral into a new client. It wasn’t quite a slam dunk, but it was pretty close.

In our ongoing research with clients who have selected new advisors, we see a couple of important findings.

First, referrals continue to be critical in attracting clients – half of investors utilize a referral from a friend, neighbor or colleague when selecting a new advisor.

Second, over half of clients who use referrals talk to multiple advisors before settling on who they’ll work with – in essence, they shop for advisors the way they would for any important purchase.

This has huge implications – unlike in the past when getting a referral won you the client, today getting a referral increasingly only gets you into the game and gives you the right to compete for a client.

 The next question: what’s your strategy for winning that competition?

A while back, I talked to highly successful advisor located in a major city about his approach.

When he receives a referral, he contacts the prospect, has a brief discussion and arranges a meeting at the advisor’s office. (A strong case can be made that this first meeting should instead be at the prospect’s office or over a coffee near their workplace, but that’s not this advisor’s approach.)

This advisor then emails the details of the meeting to his assistant and a letter goes out confirming the date and time and providing directions. With that letter goes a folder with five or six sheets of paper – background on the advisor and his firm, a recent report from his firm’s research department and two or three articles which this advisor has written in a local paper.

The advisor could wait to mail this package out – but instead sends it by courier.