While some close friendships may have started as client relationships, other friends may continue to complain about their advisor or ask for free advice—but never ask to be your client. What holds them back?
1. They may not understand what you do
Is it a real obstacle? No. They’ve never asked about what you do and you’ve never told them.
What’s the solution? Remind them where you work (provide details on your job, types of accounts you handle, your education, etc.). Take an interest in their professions, and ask about their specialties. They might even refer you to other clients.
2. They may not know the size of accounts you handle
Your friends might assume you only work with very wealthy clients. Though confidentiality prevents you from telling them specifics, you can still tell them about the average accounts you handle.
Is it a real obstacle? No.
What’s the solution? If people ask your minimum, avoid giving a simple answer like, “$250,000.” A branch manager shared a great answer: “We feel we can be the most value to people with investable assets of $250,000 for the following reasons.” They asked for a number, you gave them one but didn’t say you don’t take clients with less money, leaving the door open.
3. It may not be the right time
You ask a friend about business and she explains her money is tied up or she doesn’t get her bonus until January.
Is it a real obstacle? No. Timing is everything.
What’s the solution? If her money is tied up ask, “Until when?” It might be in a term deposit or short-term bond. If she receives lump-sum compensation, such as a bonus, learn when it’s paid by asking, “When do you usually make investment decisions?” Call one month in advance to get on her radar.
4. They may not be comfortable with your experience
This is a problem often faced by second-career advisors. Maybe you were a great engineer, but what do you know about picking stocks?
Is it a real obstacle? No. They think you’re a stock picker; relationship manager is a better description.
What’s the solution? If you’re new to the industry, explain the reputation of your firm, and how you are able to provide your friend with all of its resources. Show how your friend would be upgrading by bringing over his account.
5. They may not like you
You married his sister and he never liked you. He wouldn’t do business with you if you were the only advisor in Canada.
Is it a real obstacle? Yes. An advisor once told me, “If you don’t have a good relationship with your brother-in-law, it’s unlikely to improve when he becomes a client.”
What’s the solution? Resist the urge to prove yourself—it rarely works. Focus on other friends you may be able to turn into clients.