Active investment management’s weekly magazine for fee-based advisors

Ron Fisher, RTRP • Nottingham, MD
Fisher Financial Services • LPL Financial

Our practice has two primary ways of prospecting for new advisory clients. The first comes directly from my work as a certified tax preparer. I have lived in the same area for most of my life. During that time, I have built a large network of friends and business associates, and I have been introduced to their networks. I have had a tax preparation business since 1990, and, as it continues to grow, it organically generates a stream of potential prospects for our advisory business.

Several months ago we decided to develop a more systematic tool for facilitating the referral process from current advisory clients. My mother is a retired marketing executive, and she and I put together a program of marketing research. We conducted focus groups with some of our current clients and reviewed literature we could find on best practices for generating referrals.

One of the main conclusions coming out of that work was the importance of making it easy for clients to refer you. Clients are not going to remember everything about your qualifications and services, and they can benefit from the occasional reminder to keep you top of mind.

A second conclusion was that clients want to give explicit approval of how you are using them as a reference when contacting a potential client. It is a sensitive area that involves their reputation, so you need to be considerate of that.

The end result is that we designed several marketing pieces that facilitate the process of a client providing an introduction to a member of their family, a friend, or an associate. The pieces have several features that enhance a client’s ease of making a referral and their comfort level in doing so, such as bios for our advisory team, our firm’s code of conduct for handling referrals, and secure online referral form submission.

The bottom line is that we want to demonstrate to our current clients that we will treat their introductions with great care.

Must-haves for a user-friendly client-referral process

1. Biographies of advisory team.
2. Company profile.
3. Code of conduct: Company’s policies on handling referrals, specifically that respect will be given to a prospect’s time and privacy, and repeated attempts at contact will not be made.
4. Provide leading questions, such as “Do you know someone experiencing a life transition?” Give examples of transition events, such as a career change or birth in the family.
5. Several options available for how they prefer the prospect be contacted.
6. Easy and secure referral form submission.

Disclosure: Ronald Fisher is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. He provides investment advice through Private Advisor Group, a registered investment advisor. Fisher Financial Services and Private Advisor Group are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This article first published in Proactive Advisor Magazine on October 15, 2015, Volume 8, Issue 3.

Photography by Mike Morgan