Six reasons a prospect will choose you

By Jeff Thorsteinson | July 24, 2006 | Last updated on July 24, 2006
5 min read

(July 2006) What exactly is it that makes a prospect want to work with you?

When I ask advisors this simple question, they provide me with a wide variety of answers. Many people talk about their specialized investment knowledge. Quite a few mention their years of experience. Some focus on the strength of their team — others, their firm’s reputation. An honest few admit that it’s the confidence that they instill in a prospect’s mind, through continual marketing, that converts them into loyal clients.

All of the above are certainly contributing factors in your ability to bring new clients on board. But in many ways, they are “givens.” Investors have come to expect these things from professional advisors. If you’re missing any of the above factors, it could well be enough to prevent a prospect from becoming a client. But in and of themselves none of them give prospects a clear and compelling reason to entrust the management of their money to you. They’re just not enough.

So, what will give prospects a reason to become your client? What leads them to pick you over the competition?

In working with hundreds of advisors across the country, I’ve come to understand that the ability to convert prospects into clients can be boiled down to six key factors. I’ve described these factors below and outlined some suggestions on how you can highlight them the next time you meet with a prospect.

1. A culture of success Successful investors want to deal with successful, positive, like-minded people. Most investors gravitate toward top talent, and are willing to pay a premium to work with the best. This is particularly true of business owners and other high-net-worth (HNW) investors, who are over-achievers themselves, and want to work with others who share the same attitude.

  • Insist that your team exhibit a happy, upbeat and positive attitude in all client interactions.
  • Mention professional achievements, recognition, and awards in your marketing materials.
  • Highlight client accomplishments in your client newsletter. Take an interest in client achievements (whether business or personal achievements), and congratulate them on their successes.
  • Dress and behave like a successful professional — clients will indeed judge you by your appearance.
>> More from Jeff Thorsteinson
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2. Truly personalized service Everyone wants to feel special — your clients are no different. Advisors who can make clients feel they are receiving service that is personalized to suit their specific needs will make clients feel they are part of a privileged family. This in turn leads to client loyalty and more referrals.

  • Take some time in the initial meeting to discover exactly what the client is looking for from a service perspective.
  • As your relationship with the client develops, record the client’s preferences, needs, and expectations. Document these expectations and circulate to all team members who may come in contact with that client.
  • Conduct annual “service reviews” with your top clients to ensure their expectations are being met. Identify key service suggestions from these reviews and incorporate them throughout your practice.
  • Match team member remuneration to the ability to meet client service needs. Give bonuses to team members who consistently exceed client service expectations.

3. Tangible value Clients need to “see” the value for the fees they pay. Ideally, clients should be able to point to tangible actions or services that you performed over the year and feel comfortable with the price they paid for your advice.

  • Set clear performance expectations by using a client service agreement or policy. Show the client how you take these expectations seriously by committing to them in writing.
  • Take the time to explain your unique way of doing business early in the client relationship. Explain to clients how this process works to achieve their goals.
  • Develop a graphic or visual method for articulating value quickly and clearly to prospects and clients.
  • Determine three ways you can go “above and beyond” with each client. This could include offering a free service (i.e., manage their grandchildren’s RESPs for little or no fee); referring prospects to the client’s business; or even inviting them to a “thank you” lunch.

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4. “High touch” relationships Investors demand frequent, high-quality communication in order to remain confident in your abilities to solve their financial challenges. The more personal the communication, and the more consistent its frequency, the more confidence it will generate.

  • Develop a detailed client communication plan for the next 12 months, aiming for at least 26 points of contact with each “top tiered” client.
  • Deliver customized portfolio reviews, reports, and bulletins for individual clients. Don’t accept boilerplate!
  • Take the time to craft a professional, consistent look and feel to your communications. This is particularly important with newsletters (printed or e-mail), website, brochures, etc.

5. Special opportunities Investors value an advisor who can provide “special” opportunities to them from time to time. Some of these opportunities should focus on new investment products or strategies; others should be lifestyle-related.

  • Share your opinions on new investment and wealth management products. Tell clients what they should be interested in, and what they should avoid. Provide guidance!
  • Become an expert in a service or product area. Offer clients exclusive services or access to specialized knowledge that will enhance their financial positions.
  • Tap into trends and current lifestyle issues affecting your clients. Point out books, websites, and other resources on topics that clients might be interested in.
  • Seek out new experiences and share them with clients. Believe it or not, clients want to know what you’re interested in.
>> More from Jeff Thorsteinson
Advisor websites: Eight rules for success E-mail newsletters: Nine rules for success

Reach for the top

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6. Longevity Investors prefer to work with professionals who have staying power — those who have been around long enough to see good times and bad times, those who aren’t going to close up shop and move on to another job six months down the road. Your own ability to remain stable and steady plays a part in ensuring clients do the same.

  • Operate your business with a long-term perspective.
  • Hire team members who are willing to make a long-term investment in your business.
  • Become an active citizen in your community. Join community associations and charitable causes. Show clients that you intend to stick around!
  • Be very cautious when moving firms. If you must, communicate to clients the reasons for your move, and ensure them it wouldn’t do it if the move weren’t in their best interests.

Make it your top priority to align your practice with the six factors above over the next twelve months. While it’s possible to survive by emphasizing your investment knowledge, your experience, or even your marketing savvy, sooner or later, a competitor will come along who can offer your clients more. It’s up to you to prevent that from happening.

Jeff Thorsteinson is the creator of the YouFoundation, an organization that helps investment advisors advisors build world-class practices through innovative concepts, tools, and systems since 1993. With over 3,000 investment advisor marketing projects and business cases behind him, Jeff has become a well respected speaker in the industry and over the last 3 years, delivered his practice-building programs to thousands of financial advisors throughout Canada. Contact or 1 800-223-9332, ext. 1, for more information about YouFoundation, or visit the website at


Jeff Thorsteinson