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6 successful advisors share their approaches to client development

by Jan 10, 2024Advisor perspectives

6 successful advisors share their approaches to client development

by Jan 10, 2024Advisor perspectives

How do successful independent financial advisors drive client development? Six advisors share their firms’ strategies.

We have interviewed dozens of independent financial advisors over the past 10 years for Proactive Advisor Magazine. They have advisory practices from every corner of the United States and represent many different broker-dealers. All share a passion for seeking excellence in their practices and the way they serve clients.

One of the questions we always ask is, “How do you approach client development?”

The answers often include creative approaches to bringing new clients into an advisor’s practice.

The responses have ranged from fully integrated marketing plans to a singular focus on referrals from current clients. Even in the latter case, progressive-thinking financial advisors tend to have an intentional process for encouraging clients to refer friends, family members, or others in their personal network.

We have also sought input from business coaches and other professionals in the financial-services industry on the topic of client development for financial-advisory practices. Three compelling articles in this series include the following:

  • “How to ‘replicate’ your firm’s 10 best clients.” This article—based on a webinar presented by Axos Advisor Services—poses the question “What if you could clone your 10 best clients?” and provides a step-by-step methodology to achieving just that.
  • How do clients view your firm? The questions you should be asking.” This article outlines a process developed by ClientWise’s Ray Sclafani that enables financial advisors to take control of their firm’s “frame” to attract prospects into their pipeline, win the next generation of clients, and deepen their businesses so they can “thrive long into the future.”
  • “6 traits of exceptional financial advisors.” This article reviews a best-selling book by advisor, peer coach, and keynote speaker Frank Leyes. Mr. Leyes invested a year interviewing successful advisors for his book “Shaping the Future: 6 Ways Exceptional Advisors Transform Financial Futures.” He shares six key traits that “exceptional advisors” exhibit in their practices and client relationships.
We think you will find these articles of great value for your practice.
Advisors share best practices for client development

The best practices in client development that independent advisors have contributed to our magazine are equally thought-provoking. They demonstrate that while advisors will play to their own strengths in business development, many of their tactics apply to the advisory community at large. Six of these notable strategies are presented here.

Kevin Brennan • Hartland, MI

Unlike many of his peers, Kevin Brennan does not solely focus on clients that are close to or in retirement in his new business efforts for Brennan Investment Services. In the article, “Building a client base of young families through community events,” Mr. Brennan says of his early days establishing his practice,

“I asked myself, ‘Who in my area is actively targeting younger clients?’ I thought it was an underserved area to explore, and it has since become the primary focus of our practice. Our ideal prospective clients are married couples with young children, approximately 30 to 45 years old, with a relatively high income. They may not necessarily have a large net worth, but they are decades from retirement and have many financial needs other than pure retirement-income planning. As I develop clients of this type, I feel confident they will be working with our firm for many years to come.”
In this article, Mr. Brennan shares his firm’s distinct approach to “sponsoring family-oriented events that are targeted at both children and their parents.”

Jay Hardesty • Golden, CO

Advisor Jay Hardesty, president of Ashton Wealth Management, talks about a creative approach to gaining new clients in “Developing new client prospects using ‘preferrals.’” Mr. Hardesty says,

“I recently came across a marketing concept that I thought was quite constructive on the topic of referrals. It talked about how an advisor could turn the conversation from ‘referrals’ to ‘preferrals.’ I have since built elements of this into my discussions with clients. The idea of ‘preferrals’ basically redirects the process from ‘asking clients for help’ to asking clients if they would like to help one of their friends or family members.”

Daniel Ruben • Westlake Village, CA

Daniel Ruben was a successful practicing physician and managed a large health-care group before becoming a financial advisor and the founder of Life Strategies Advisors Inc. He believes the physician community—an attractive and affluent target segment—has specific needs and a behavioral profile that requires “a holistic approach” to helping them improve their financial lives. His website’s “open letter” to the physician community is presented in “Addressing the mindset of physicians on their financial future.”


Dean R. Crouthamel • Skippack, PA

Dean Crouthamel, a veteran advisor located in Pennsylvania, has invested considerable effort in adapting today’s technological tools to client prospecting and development. In the article “Online communications and social media enhance marketing efforts,” Mr. Crouthamel shares his multi-pronged approach.

He says, “I am a dedicated user of social media and send regular online communications to clients and prospects. This is a major component of my overall marketing and prospecting program.” He believes this program delivers valuable benefits in the areas of name recognition for his firm, delivering timely financial education, and providing a user-friendly means of initiating complimentary consultations with potential clients.

Mary Lyons • Dallas, TX

Mary Lyons, founder of The Wealth Woman, is known in her area for being an outgoing volunteer and business leader who has forged an impressive network of connections. In “Taking business networking to the next level,” Ms. Lyons says,

“My entire practice has been built through networking, and I devote a lot of time to networking efforts. When I moved to Dallas 10 years ago, I did not know many people here. I decided to take meetings with anyone who I felt was sincerely interested in learning about me and what I do. By following this process diligently, I progressed from working with only a handful of clients to being one of the top producers at our national firm in just three years.”

Telton Hall • Cedar City, UT

Telton Hall’s firm, Advanced Financial Planning, “aims to deliver an exceptional wealth-management experience to financial-planning clients, with a focus on retirees.” In “The benefits of targeting a specific client profile,” Mr. Hall talks about several key factors that have helped his practice successfully grow over the years, especially in the context of working with clients who are a good fit with his firm’s philosophy:

“One was developing a regimented sales and prospecting process. I learned how to effectively track initial contacts, appointments, follow-up appointments, and the eventual acquisition of a client. This helped me figure out where I needed to apply the most effort to keep the process moving along and productive. …

“The second was developing my expert professional team, a robust network of third-party professionals who can provide specific guidance to my clients in their areas of expertise. We call this the ‘advanced planning stage’ of our client relationship, where I can work with experienced professionals in the tax, insurance, legal, or health-care areas to brainstorm solutions for specific client needs. … An important secondary benefit of this professional network is the ability to cross-pollinate our practices with valuable referrals from each other.”


Also, please check out our article “The value of personal advice: Wealth management through the pandemic.” In this article, research findings from the PriceMetrix by McKinsey study “The state of North American retail wealth management” identify key trends and factors impacting financial advisors.

In summarizing their findings, PriceMetrix states, in part,

“For the North American wealth-management industry, the winds of change are picking up speed, with increased competition, unpredictable markets, and the pace of demographic change accelerating. Growth is likely to be more elusive than in the past ten years and more heavily influenced by the decisions and actions of advisors themselves, not just broad market returns. As challenging as 2020 was, it has served as a clear reminder of the importance and value of advisor-to-client wealth-management advice and elevated the role that many advisors play in their clients’ financial lives.”

PriceMetrix’s in-depth industry overview offers valuable insights into the factors driving the growth of many successful advisory firms.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Proactive Advisor Magazine. These opinions are presented for educational purposes only.

David Wismer is editor of Proactive Advisor Magazine. Mr. Wismer has deep experience in the communications field and content/editorial development. He has worked across many financial-services categories, including asset management, banking, insurance, financial media, exchange-traded products, and wealth management.

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