To cultivate wealthy clients, you need to understand what they want. Here are the three most important.
#1 Making them money/protecting capital
Investors looking for advisors shop around by asking for referrals. The first question they’re likely to ask their friends is, “Have they made you any money?” A former executive of a NYSE-listed company said it this way: “Of course your advisor has to have made you money before you would refer him, because that’s the first question the other person will ask!”
In 2008, making money in the stock market wasn’t realistic. Under adverse circumstances the investor wants you to protect capital or limit losses.
Wrong Answer: “No, he hasn’t made me money, but he calls regularly and we have great chats.”
How to demonstrate: 2013 was a great year for most clients invested in the equity markets. Remind them how well they did, and why. Use easy-to-understand terms. If they outperformed, even better. Mention returns net of fees.
Asking for referrals: “You may know some people who didn’t do as well as you in 2013. If so, I’d be interested in meeting them. Perhaps I could help them too.”
#2 Possessing Relevant Knowledge
One of the reasons senior executives make great clients is they’re comfortable hiring experts to handle tasks they don’t have the time or knowledge to do. They want to know you’ve solved problems similar to theirs. It’s a bonus if you have a specialty in the area.
Wrong answer: “Wow. That sounds like a tough one. I haven’t seen it before, but I’ll take a crack at it.”
How to demonstrate: Explain how you (or your team) have helped other clients with this problem before. Mention one or two obvious key issues and a couple that are important but not immediately apparent. Broadly outline the steps you’ll take implementing the solution.
Read: Prospecting on vacation
Asking for referrals: “I understand your firm recently announced layoffs. I’m glad you’re safe. You may have some friends who were affected. When you leave a company, there’s a lot you need to know about moving retirement assets. I’ve helped others, I may be able to help them too.”
#3 Make Things Easy
When a client calls with a problem, my own financial advisor strives to implement a “one and done” approach. That means the client only has to call once.
Either the problem’s solved by getting the relevant areas of the firm conferenced on a call or my advisor and her team do the legwork on behalf of the client.
Making things easy can also mean making their lives less complicated; for instance, consolidating assets at your firm because of its reporting capabilities. Getting them organized counts, too; it’s a good reason for them to do their personal banking with you if possible.
Wrong answer: “I’m your investment guy. I don’t do banking. You’ll need to call someone else about that problem. Let me give you the customer service number.…”
How to demonstrate: You work with a smaller number of clients and have a good team, so you’re able to devote a considerable amount of time to each client. If they have any issues or requests you do your best to get them resolved quickly and correctly. You report back on the outcome.
Asking for referrals: “You’re an executive. You’re used to asking for something just once. As your financial advisor, that’s the kind of relationship we’ve had over the past several years. You must know some people at your firm who don’t get that level of responsiveness from their advisors. Maybe they complain about it. You and I work well together. I would appreciate an introduction.”