Assistants handle many vital functions, and truth be told, the whole operation would probably grind to a halt without their help. But their value can go well beyond filing, faxing, and note taking.

An assistant with excellent social skills and a good understanding of your business can add clients to your book or add to the work you do for current clients. And all of this while performing the routine and otherwise mundane task of taking phone messages.

Read: How to ask for referrals

Here are four scenarios where a skillful assistant can be the bridge between you and a bigger book.

1. Why is the advisor occupied?

It’s procedure for an assistant to answer a ringing phone, explain you are busy, offer to help or take a message. Here’s an idea that’s been around for years:
  • Prep: Make a detailed list of everything you do: portfolio reviews, college savings plans, retirement plans, etc.
  • Conversation: “Mrs. (advisor) is meeting with a client who wants to set up a college savings plan for their grandchildren. Would you like her to call when she is done?”
  • Outcome: Established clients may consider you an expert in a specific area such as fixed income. They may be unaware of other services you provide, but over time your assistant tactfully communicates additional ways you can help.

Read: 5 ways to get referrals

2. Christmas is coming

Established clients are often older. When estates get settled assets often transfer out because the client’s children never met the advisor. During the holidays clients often bring family together. It’s an opportunity.
  • Conversation: “Mr. (advisor) is with a client – I’ll let him know you called. Mr. Smith, what are you and your wife doing over the holidays?” He says the entire family, including children and grandchildren, is coming over for Christmas. “That’s wonderful,” the assistant says. “Has Mr. (advisor) ever met your children? Their names are on several of the accounts.”
  • Outcome: The client may (or may not) think inviting the advisor over for a Christmas drink would be a good way to introduce him to the children and grandchildren in a festive setting. It makes sense for the children to put a face to a name.

3. Preparing taxes

The holiday season is followed by tax season. Tax reporting statements are sent out. Clients need help establishing a cost basis or gathering additional documentation. These projects are usually handled by the assistant.
  • 1st Conversation: “No problem, Mrs. Smith. I’ll have those reports faxed to your accountant this morning. I’ll confirm when it’s done.”
  • 2nd Conversation: “The reports were just faxed and received. Mrs Smith, you and Mr. (advisor) have been working together for five years. Has he ever met your accountant? After all, they are both people working on your behalf.”
  • Outcome: The client realizes each professional advises them on how to handle money. It’s logical they should meet. If the accountant has been impressed by the advisor’s professionalism and concern for the client, referrals could follow.

4. Layoffs at local companies

Assistants usually remember where clients work, but the information is only a mouse click away if they don’t remember offhand. When a local company makes job cuts it’s big news, and only natural to be concerned.
  • Conversation: “He’s on the phone Mr. Jones. I’ll let him know you are waiting for a call.” Pause. “I read about the layoffs at (firm) and I know you work there. Were you effected?” The client says no. “I’m glad to hear that. Were any of your friends effected? There’s a lot to know about moving retirement assets when you leave a firm. Mr. (advisor) has helped many people in that situation, and he may be able to help your friends, too.
  • Outcome: The client realizes friends who have just been downsized face this problem. He may be able to help them by suggesting they talk with you.

Read: The ‘next big thing’ in referrals