Parts of my job role are very similar to that of a Financial Adviser. Although, I don’t have to bring up the difficult conversations such as “have you thought about your financial circumstances in the event of death or critical illness” (I don’t miss that one), I do have to conduct a fact find with my clients and build rapport to help sell myself and my product.
I, like you, try to understand as much as I can about my client, both professionally and personally. I want to know all about their business, how they got to where they are, what drives them, where do they want to be, who is their target market?, and what they are aiming for? I try to find common ground, whether that’s shared interests, experiences, or issues I can offer a solution to.
As I’m gathering information there is always one question I ask when in a first appointment, “where does the majority of your business come from?” nine times out of ten the answer is always “client referrals”. Now this always baffles me because, the practice I used to work for was terrible at referrals and we found other Financial Advisers struggled with this too. When I probe a little further into how they do this I usually get quite a vague answer or, “I have a great relationship with my clients”.
Having a great relationship with your clients is wonderful, they have shown that they like you as a person and entrust you to invest their money. But do they really go away and boast about you in the pub, at a social gathering with friends, coffee mornings, or Golf days? Do they say “My Adviser’s great, I can’t wait to see them next year at my annual review meeting”? Well the truth is they probably don’t, not unless you give them something to talk about!
In the practice I worked for we introduced several new processes to try and increase the referral business from our existing client base, some we replicated from other Advisers, some we came up with on our own and they varied in their success rates, here are just a few examples.
The Referral Book – This was a specially designed sort of note book, at every meeting the Financial Adviser would get the book out and rest in visibly on the table (with “The Referral Book” embroidered on the front in large letters) and it remained there throughout the whole meeting until at the end when just about to pack up. The Financial Adviser would then ask “could you supply me with some referrals to your friends and family who can benefit from my services just as you do?”, now this does seem very direct but it actually works if you stick to it. The client also knows you’re going to bring this up at every meeting, so they do rack their brains prior to you coming.
Testimonial / Referral Scheme – Send a specially designed form out to your clients asking for a testimonial; at the bottom ask them simple tick box feedback questions. Then at the bottom tell them about your referral scheme, £50 worth of vouchers for each referral and supply spaces for them to complete. We always got the majority of the forms back but the referrals area was rarely completed, so not as successful.
What really worked for us was when we started to implement the personal touches. In the fact find I used to ask the Adviser to write down something interesting and personal that is discussed in general conversation, for example, did they mention a particular wine they like, or restaurant then visit regularly? Books they’re reading or issues they’re having? The reason for this was so that we could use this information to do something nice for the client, if it was their birthday we would put £20.00 on a tab at their favourite restaurant to use. Send their favourite wine or the latest book by their favourite author.
Another great example was that one client was really struggling reading letters due to her degenerating eye sight, I got onto Amazon and found a gadget to help with this issue which cost £3.50 including postage and got it sent to her, she was over the moon and told all her friends about what we had done! We introduced the option of our daily investment monitoring service within profit and loss parameters, we contacted clients if parameters breached and arranged telephone conversations with their Financial Adviser at these points to discuss their options which were timely and relevant instead of just seeing them once a year. We couldn’t stop them talking about these new pro active features to our service, they informed friends, colleagues, and family members.
It wasn’t just the referrals that grew; we experienced a change in the Adviser and client relationship. Trust levels had increased; they started to provide information on other policies and investments they had never discussed before as they wanted them monitoring too, and to benefit more from the services we offered.
It was clear to us that although it takes a little more time, some organisation and communication between your team it’s the little things that count. We all know that people buy from people, they like to talk and spread the word about their experiences, and they like to help people they trust. Tick all these boxes and I guarantee your referrals will grow, just give them something to talk about.
Danielle Dacunha- Howarth
Prompt Capital Monitoring