Elite advisor conference update: Speaker outlines five strategies for richer relationships

By Deanne N. Gage | June 25, 2004 | Last updated on June 25, 2004
3 min read

(June 25, 2004) Want to become an elite advisor? Start acting like one. There’s a tendency for most advisors to focus more on portfolio construction and investment positions and less on creating a “wow” advisor-client relationship, says John Bowen Jr., president of CEG Worldwide, a New York-based advisor consultant firm.

According to CEG Worldwide research, 86.2% of U.S. advisors are investment-centred while only 13.8% of U.S. advisors are client-centred. “This is the wrong strategy to take,” Bowen told attendees at the Elite Advisor Summit in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario, earlier this week.

Bowen identified five essential strategies to become more client-centred:

1. Focus on the right clients. The right client, generally speaking, is an affluent client. “They are the ones who actually afford advice and don’t mind paying for it,” says Bowen. More important, there’s never been more millionaires in history than there is right now, he adds. Do your homework and find out what kind of service affluent clients expect and how you can make every client feel extremely important.

2. Use a consulting process. Prospects tend to judge you by the quality of questions you ask them. “An advisor’s favourite subject tends to be about ‘me’ instead of the clients,” Bowen says, noting he’s heard of first meetings going on for 20 minutes before the prospect even got a word in edgewise.

Bowen suggests that a better strategy for the first “discovery meeting” is to ask prospects what’s important to them about money. Also ask what they expect from an advisor. When CEG Worldwide surveyed U.S. clients, less than 1% were asked by their advisor how often they would like to meet. Don’t bring investments into the discussion right away. In fact, save that for another meeting.

3. Manage your practice as a business. Too many advisors lack focus on how to best serve their clients. The ones that are the most successful have business plans, says Bowen, noting that the highest-earning advisors are four times more likely to have a business plan that is followed regularly.

4. Partner effectively with centres of influence. A lawyer and accountant are givens but for elite advisors, but that’s only the beginning. Bowen notes that most high net worth advisors he knows work with as many as 50 different centres of influence on a regular basis.

5. Commit to ongoing learning. As the adage goes, you’re never too old to learn something new. You can start by learning from your own clients. Bowen recommends creating a client advisory board that acts as your sounding board for any new initiatives and marketing strategies.

Next, find a mentor. “A mentor is someone who is doing what you’re doing but has walked a path ahead of you and has had huge success,” he says. Also consider hiring a coach, who will help you create a vision of where you want to go and what you need to do to get there.

Study groups can be another avenue to learn new ideas. In a study group, different professionals from all walks of life get together and learn how to better serve their affluent clients. But as Bowen is quick to point out: “These groups are very structured and dedicated. They aren’t just hanging out together. Ideally you want to be in a group that will help pull you ahead.”

Filed by Deanne N. Gage, Advisor’s Edge, deanne.gage@advisor.rogers.com.


Deanne N. Gage