From speaking to advisers and reading multiple articles on the topic, it seems many have not written new business of any significance since the first lockdown began last March.
With all the signs indicating the world is not about to return to pre-pandemic normality any time soon, there has never been a better time to trial different techniques to sign new clients.
At the end of last year, I met with a group of 28 ‘next generation’ advisers to discuss what they had been doing to achieve this during the pandemic. Perhaps some of the following will inspire you.
1. Look for a niche you can carve out and specialise in – for example, doctors or dentists.
2. When asking existing clients for referrals, offer a discounted fee on the initial plan for the person referred.
3. Accountants and solicitors are the usual targets for strategic alliances but consider others, such as business coaches. They can be a useful source as they know their clients’ business really well and have in-depth knowledge that can help you to address the financial planning needs of the people they refer to you.
4. If you’re not a “generalist” financial adviser, other financial service providers (mortgages/protection) are an obvious area to target. Crucially you don’t compete with one another and your offerings are complementary.
5. Don’t spread yourself too thin when forming alliances with other professionals. These relationships have to be reciprocal and you don’t have an infinite number of clients to refer back to them. Pick your partners.
6. Use the full extent of your network. Don’t be put off if the immediate connection is not your typical client as they might still be a good source of new clients. We had examples of referrals from butchers and child psychologists, for example.
7. Make it easy for third-party referrers. Let them experience your service – offer financial planning to third parties you work with so they can see first-hand how your offering differs and which of their clients it would benefit. They could also become new clients themselves.
Think creatively about how you communicate
8. Social media can be a subtle and less “sales push” way of reminding clients and prospects that you exist but keep communication short and to the point.
9. Consider sending a video message instead of leaving a voicemail. Technology like VideoAsk lets you do this in bulk. BigVu helps record videos without having to refer to notes.
10. Don’t always make it about business. Think of different ways to reach out to people. For instance, send afternoon tea to clients and host a session for everyone to get together or send wine for a virtual wine tasting.
11. Run a sentiment survey – asking how clients are feeling really helps engagement.
12. Is it any good? This is your shop window; a prospect’s first interaction with your firm. It is critical to ensure it doesn’t put them off. Get feedback from your existing clients – they can provide valuable insight into what appealed to them and what didn’t.
13. Make your website personal – it should reflect your values and why clients should choose you.
14. Build a consistent brand look and feel – it should continue through all of your communication channels.
15. Use a calendar booking service like Calendly to easily facilitate clients or prospects that want to book a meeting with you.
16. That said, not every prospect will be suitable, so build a landing page that allows them to self-qualify to identify if they fit your target client base.
17. GoogleMyBusiness and GoogleAnalytics are very helpful tools to drive more people to your website, understand how long they are spending there and what interests them the most.
18. What have you shifted online? Almost everything can be moved online and crucially this allows you to access a much wider geographic target market.
19. Do join online events with third-party professionals that you’ve developed strategic alliances with.
20. Encourage attendees to post questions during online events to open up ways for interaction and follow up with them.
21. Use edited online event content to make engaging content for social media and your website.
22. Don’t make assumptions about clients and prospects – sometimes older people are more adaptable to virtual meetings than middle age/younger clients.
23. Holding a virtual one-to-one meeting helps some people to open up more – having a screen in between you can feel less intrusive. They will also feel more at ease in their home environment.
24. Trial the time at which emails are sent, especially if sending emails to clients and prospects who work in certain professions. Think about when they might have free time to look at emails.
25. Consider adding your photo to your email signature, this personal touch often results in a higher response rate.
Ben Peele is managing director at PortfolioMetrix UK