Have you ever wondered how some financial advisors manage to get all their business from referrals?  Or maybe, how to get referrals? Despite what some people may tell you, simply asking for referrals isn’t enough. 

One of the best ways financial advisors can stand out from the competition is to establish a reputation of professionalism and patience. 

Imagine for a moment that you have some important legal business you need an attorney to care for, and there are two lawyers you are evaluating. Attorney one works out of his car, sports a golf shirt and khakis, and doesn’t have a company brochure or website. Attorney Two has an attractive office, a professional assistant, wears a tie to work, and has professional collaterals. 

Strictly based on appearance, whom would you choose?

This aptly illustrates the position investors find themselves in when they are looking for a new financial advisor. However, providing a professional appearance is the first requirement to acquire referrals. Requirement two is to be patient. 

What Are the Best Ways for Financial Advisors to Get Referrals?

Getting referrals can be different for any business. It takes a high level of trust and loyalty between and advisor and their client for a referral. Here are eight surefire ways on how to get referrals and fill your prospect pipeline:

1. Surprise and Delight Your Clients

Referrals for financial advisors are a byproduct of the thoughtful planning and execution of valuable service. With this in mind, “What can I do to get more referrals?” turns into “How can I be of greater value?”

If you want to get more referrals, you have to make yourself worth referring to. Your firm and the value you deliver need to be worth talking about. This doesn’t happen by chance.

Think about the last time you recommended:

Was your recommendation chosen randomly, or was there a reason behind it? Too often, financial advisors cross their fingers, hoping to get referrals. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t. How are you going to increase the number of referrals you receive? The key is to provide an experience. 

While your clients probably won’t be in a hurry to talk about the annual review you had with them, they will brag about how you threw them a surprise wedding anniversary party. 

Is their car dirty when they come in for an appointment? Have it washed. Are they laid up with a broken leg? Send dinner over. Find ways to make your clients gasp with delight, and you’ll make a deep impression they’ll be compelled to talk about. By putting in a special effort like this, financial advisor referrals will come to you naturally.

2. Request Direct Introductions

If your client has a contact you would like to meet, ask for a direct introduction. 

Doing so can be as easy as saying: “I know you’re friends with so-and-so, and I’d really like to meet her. What are the chances the three of us could grab lunch together? Is that something you could set up?”

As a side point, this is one area where social media can be very useful. Don’t be afraid to browse through your clients’ LinkedIn or Facebook contacts to find people you’d like to meet.

3. Host Intimate Social Events

Intimate social events present the perfect opportunity for financial advisors to meet new prospects without spending a lot of time or money. Simply plan an activity you enjoy and invite a few clients along. Go fishing, golfing, host a cooking class, or a wine tasting. All you have to do is plan the event and pick up the phone. 

The only way to accomplish this is to implement written service standards and systems. It is impossible to deliver a high-quality experience one hundred percent of the time without having the right procedures in place. (If you’re not sure how to host a successful event, download our guide.)

4. Give Away Prizes

Hundreds of world-class financial advisors have used this strategy with great success. The next time you hold an event, put a blurb on the invitation that says every client who brings a new referral for your financial advisory to the event will receive a gift. 

Bottles of wine, bbq grill sets, gift certificates, and a ton of other prizes can be used. Everyone likes free stuff, and at the end of the day, your clients know you are running a business, so they’re unlikely to be offended.

5. Forge Professional Alliances

Attorneys and CPAs are generally averse to financial advisor referral agreements for a number of reasons, not to mention your competitors are probably already knocking on their door. 

Take things slowly. Get to know them personally first. Send them a few referrals. Help them work on a few cases for free. Gradually, as the relationship warms up, you’ll have a foundation on which to ask for something more formal. This relationship can end up in countless financial advisor referrals.

6. Invest In Your Web Presence

Imagine if one of your clients told a friend about your services, but when that friend searched for you online, they couldn’t find you. Or worse, what if they found an outdated website that disappointed them? Or even worse, what if they found your competition? 

If you want more referrals for your financial advisory, you need to make it easy for people to find you online, and you need to make sure they’ll like what they see. 

Having an outdated website is a big mistake in today’s competitive financial industry. Spend the money to enhance your online presence and invest in social media

And just as a balanced investment portfolio should include a variety of investments, a balanced practice-management strategy needs to include multiple ways to engage clients and prospects.

Different clients will respond to different actions. Reviews. Phone calls. Educational events. Social events. Email marketing. Social media. All of these efforts need to be consistent, and your website acts as a catch-all for these actions. 

7. Talk About (Don’t Ask for) Referrals at Every Meeting

Why do people send financial advisors referrals?

Recommending or referring involves sharing. If something is pleasant, surprising, valuable, inspiring, or useful to them, they are likely to share it with friends and family.

Each time you sit with a client for a review, you should be talking about referrals. But don’t ask for referrals directly. Flip the conversation around. This method works because it positions you as a generous professional rather than a needy salesperson. 

Here’s what you might say: “As you know, I’m very selective about the clients I take on because my priority is my existing clients. That being said, I want you to know that we have a special program for people referred by our clients. If you know someone who could benefit from our services, we’ll provide them with a portfolio analysis – kind of like a second opinion from a doctor – at no cost. So if you know a friend, neighbor, business contact, or family member like that, please let me know, and I’ll gladly reserve time in my schedule for them.”

8. Reward Referral Behavior

Every referral – regardless of the quality – needs to be celebrated. At the very least, send a handwritten thank-you note to the referrer. 

If the person they referred becomes a client, take an additional step by sending a thoughtful gift. Always follow up with the referrer to let them know whether you were able to help the person they referred. Have a special dinner with your top clients each year, and acknowledge each person who sent you a referral. 

To make it even easier, you can use the FMG Suite referral automated campaign. Every quarter, an email is sent to contacts of your choosing, thanking them for their business and asking them to share a referral. In exchange, they receive a valuable and relevant ebook. All you have to do is turn it on, and your customers will be reminded they can always send referrals your way.

The more you reinforce and reward referral behavior from your clients, the more referrals your financial advisory will receive. The bottom line is that if you want to build a referral-based practice, you can’t rely on a single source for referrals. 

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