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With all the competition for new clients, it’s often easier to grow through acquisition than spend time wooing prospects.

But after you buy the right book, you’ve got to make sure people stick around.

“If clients never hear from [the advisor] and then get a letter saying, ‘We’ve sold our business, we hope you stay,’ you’re on thin ice,” says Alan Atkins, who sold his business, with offices in Barrie and Parry Sound, Ont., in 2008.

As the sale date approaches, you and the seller should prepare joint correspondence for all clients, emphasizing the benefits of the deal and reasons the buyer was chosen—such as similar investment philosophies, a shared assistant, nearby offices or previous experience working together.

Follow up with meetings. The seller should introduce you, and reiterate your extra services, ability to provide more, or different, products, or broader expertise.

“I have qualifications my predecessor didn’t, so in those joint meetings he would very kindly emphasize that,” says Sherry Cavallin, a senior financial planner at Assante Financial Management in Vancouver, who bought a book from a retiring advisor in May 2012.

This boosts your profile, but can run the risk of clients wondering what they were missing under the previous advisor. So, before buying, make sure clients are happy. That way, they’re more likely to see new expertise as a value add.

Cavallin began participating in her predecessor’s client meetings in late 2011; she’d stay about 30 minutes to allow for a proper introduction.

“He would give me the Coles Notes on the client [before each meeting], so that as he led the meeting I could ask questions and add things like, ‘I understand that you have a daughter…’ to build the relationship during the meeting.”

She then scheduled 90-minute followups with each client, without the predecessor present. She met two to three clients per week, and it took about five months to get through everyone.

“The second meeting was more me asking questions and really trying to get to know the clients better,” Cavallin says. “A few clients were more direct in their questioning. They wanted to know about my investment philosophy. It was a chance for them to see my level of interest in them and their portfolios.

“The sooner clients start considering you their primary contact, the easier the transition.”

In solo meetings, Cavallin took clients through compliance documents, did fresh risk-tolerance tests, and reviewed portfolios and goals.

Fortunately, “there were no surprises based on their risk-tolerance results,” Cavallin says—again, pointing to the importance of prior due diligence.