First Person: Persistence for key prospect pays off

By Beverley Moir | April 7, 2008 | Last updated on April 7, 2008
3 min read

(April 2008) Two years ago, I met a couple who I’ll call Susan and Matthew LeClair. They were in their late 50s and their retirement “nest egg” was over $1 million. Nearing retirement, they expressed concern about poor returns in their investment portfolios over many years, and a lack of service and communication with their current advisor.

They wanted a full-service brokerage relationship as neither one had much knowledge about investments. They had lived within their means their entire working careers and were comfortable that their current assets were sufficient to meet their retirement lifestyle.

In this competitive environment, I figured I had a good chance to win them over. It wouldn’t be too difficult to meet their return expectations, and I also believed I could provide better service.

The LeClairs fell within my target market: they had reasonable expectations, seemed pleasant to work with, had financial assets over $500,000, and they were close to retirement. I prepared a crackerjack proposal that included a risk assessment, recommended asset allocation plan, recommended investment solution for their registered and unregistered assets and an outline of my client service plan.

I spent much time preparing my proposal and was confident it dealt effectively with their issues and needs. So you can imagine how dismayed I felt when they choose not to become clients. The proverbial fee objection was raised as their reason and it seemed to arise out of no-where. They were paying the current advisor a 1.5% fee, and my fee was about 1.8% — not a huge difference, especially as I would be providing them with more service and consistency.

In retrospect, perhaps if fees had been discussed earlier, during my initial discovery meeting instead of during my presentation, I may have been better prepared to deal with the objection.

Once prospects say no, many of them disappear. However, Susan sent me an encouraging e-mail thanking me for my time and effort and said she’d be happy to recommend me to any friends who might need my help. Perhaps I was naïve (or overly optimistic) as I thought she would. As it turned out, she didn’t.

I made sure the LeClairs stayed in my e-mail address list, sent them my own “thank you for the opportunity” note, and vowed to keep in touch.

Over the next two years, I kept in touch but not regularly. I randomly sent e-newsletters and the odd article that might be of interest. I finally heard from them a month ago when I invited them to a breakfast seminar focused on retirement preparedness. Not only did they accept the invitation, they asked for an updated proposal from me and indicated they had the same concerns they talked about two years ago.

Little had changed in the intervening time, other than they were two years older, Susan was now retired, and their accounts were now worth more. I’m pleased to report that this time, they are becoming my clients!

They are now ready for a change. It turned out the objection to my fees was just a smoke screen for Matthew’s unwillingness to acknowledge he had been loyal to the wrong advisor. Also, the last two years gave them a taste of my services. They received more communication from me than from their current advisor.

What are my takeaways from this experience? Keep the doors of communication open, especially for prospects who fit your target market. One never knows why a prospect says no. I realize now that it isn’t necessarily a personal slight against me, and persistence for the right client pays off.

Bev Moir is a senior investment executive and financial planner with The Moir Team at ScotiaMcLeod in Toronto. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., a member of the Scotiabank Group. Member Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). This article is for information purposes only. The opinions stated are not necessarily those of Scotia Capital or The Bank of Nova Scotia.

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Beverley Moir