Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

Do you have a clear process for how your assistant responds to a call from a potential client?  If not, then it will cost you business.

A recent article described how a partner with a leading accounting firm used LinkedIn to narrow his search for a financial advisor to manage his investments – and how LinkedIn is altering the landscape for advisors looking to attract new clients. One of the key messages from that article was that many advisors’ LinkedIn profile doesn’t do a good job of telling their story.

Last week, I spoke to a highly successful entrepreneur who had read one of my columns directed at affluent investors and contacted me to describe another instance of how advisors are falling short when it comes to communicating with prospects.

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A simple request for information

Now in his mid-50s, Bob has spent the last 20 years building a successful transportation- and logistics-management company. Like many entrepreneurs, the bulk of his assets have been tied up in his business – but his situation was completely altered last spring by a generous offer from a  foreign entrant looking to establish a beachhead . 

With the sale closing this fall, Bob recognized that he needed help managing the proceeds. He asked his accountant, his lawyer and a close friend for recommendations for advisors and financial institutions.

Bob got five referrals in all. To begin the process, he called the office of each of the advisors to whom he’d been referred, asking for some background information. Bob consciously avoided speaking directly to the advisors and asked for their assistants instead, since he wasn’t ready to get into the details of his situation. 

And that’s where it got interesting.

Sending the right message about your practice        

The responses fell into three categories.

One assistant mailed a cardboard folder with the firm’s name and logo, containing three pieces of paper – a bio of the advisor, an overview of his team and a one-page summary of his process.

“That really made me wonder how interested this guy was,” Bob said. “I tried not to be too critical, but his response seemed pretty feeble.”

At the other extreme, three advisors sent thick folders packed with recent material they had sent clients and with examples of research reports and economic outlooks produced by their firms.

“I saw those three as being in the category of ‘throw enough mud at the wall and hope something will stick,” was Bob’s observation. “It really felt like they were tossing anything and everything in there that they could, in the hope that I’d either be impressed by the sheer volume of information or that something would strike a chord.  

Most of the stuff they sent wasn’t really that relevant or interesting. In fact I almost missed the one piece in there that was new information, a fairly detailed brochure on tax strategies for business owners.”

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