Perpetually generating new prospective clients is essential to your success as a financial advisor. Working with centers of influence is a tried and true method to find new prospects. However, creating a fruitful center of influence relationship doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a clear value proposition and a thoughtful approach.
Consolidated Planning’s comprehensive and thorough approach to financial planning necessitates working with professionals across multiple disciplines to implement our recommendations. This collaboration formed natural centers of influence and our advisors nurture those relationships to create evergreen sources of prospective clients. Our largest clients are typically introduced through a center of influence.
We’ll share our best practices to help you get started leveraging your centers of influence. By the end, you’ll have a plan to identify potential centers of influence and the language to use when setting up the first meeting.
What Is A Center Of Influence?
Before we dive in, let’s define a center of influence or COI. A COI is someone who is well known, respected and trusted in the community. As a result, they have significant influence over the thoughts and actions of others.
As a financial advisor, your centers of influence should be someone with influence over your ideal prospective clients. Typically, other professionals in complementary fields serving your ideal market make the best centers of influence. For example:
- Certified Public Accountants
- Mortgage Brokers
- Property & Casualty Insurance Agents
- Health Insurance Agents
There are certainly other potential centers of influence, but most financial advisors find success working within these professions.
Why Do Financial Advisors Work With Centers Of Influence?
Centers of influence are an evergreen source of prospective clients that can help your practice grow exponentially. Financial advisors recognize the efficiency of nurturing one center of influence relationship to generate dozens of prospects in perpetuity. A fruitful center of influence can effectively scale your prospecting efforts.
Additionally, prospects introduced to you through a center of influence are typically easier to do business with. Remember, your centers of influence are respected and trusted by your prospects. When a center of influence recommends you to one of their clients, they are conferring a degree of that trust to you. This trust is a major advantage to working with centers of influence, but you must continue to earn it through your client service.
If building a relationship with one center or influence to receive a steady stream of qualified prospective clients who are ready to do business sounds good, keep reading.
How Can I Start Working With Centers Of Influence?
The first step to developing a center of influence is identifying potential COIs within your network. Remember the six professions we named earlier, who do you know in each of those professions? Take a look below:
|Potential Center Of Influence?
|Certified Public Accountant
|Property & Casualty Insurance Agent
|Health Insurance Agent
As you list potential centers of influence, be mindful that you may take a few tries to find the right fit. That’s okay.
We’re about to show you how to set a meeting to quickly screen your candidates.
How Do I Find The Right Center Of Influence?
With your list of potential centers of influence in hand, it’s time to find the right fit for your practice. You’ll want to evaluate fit in terms of COI client base versus your ideal prospect, ability to introduce prospects, and personality. The best way to do this is to meet with your potential center of influence.
Setting The Initial COI Meeting
A key element to successfully establishing a center of influence referral relationship is properly setting the initial introductory meeting. When you call to set the meeting, you have three objectives for the call.
1. Briefly introduce yourself and your practice.
My name is _______ with Consolidated Planning. We are a full fledged financial planning firm that believes in protection first and efficient use of cash flow. As part of our process, we look at everything our clients have for property & casualty insurance, wills & trusts, tax preparations, loans, etc…
2. Establish clear objectives for an introductory meeting.
I’m calling you today because I have clients who may need your help. The problem is, I’m not licensed to solve a lot of the problems we identify for them. With that in mind, I was hoping to schedule 20 minutes to come meet with you and learn more about your firm/practice/business to see if you are the kind of people we would feel comfortable sending clients to.
3. Set a 20 minute introductory meeting.
Suggest 2 potential appointment times.
You can and should tailor this language to sound natural and comfortable coming from you. You want to be conversational and not overly scripted. It is essential that you position yourself as the one bringing clients to the relationship. This small but important detail changes the entire dynamic of your relationship.
Many centers of influence are regularly approached by financial advisors wanting to establish a referral relationship . However, most financial advisors approach centers of influence while looking at what they can get out of the relationship and not what they bring to the relationship for the COI.
By immediately demonstrating that you are bringing clients to the relationship for the COI, you flip the typical script and stand out from the crowd. Additionally, you’ve positioned yourself as the buyer and now the COI will try to sell you on why you should work together.
Running An Introductory COI Meeting
Your first meeting with a potential COI should be relaxed and conversational. Establishing a good working rapport is key to building a fruitful referral relationship. The agenda for this meeting is simple and should come as no surprise if you used the language above to set the appointment.
- Learn about the potential COI’s business
- What kind of clients do they work with?
- What products and services do they offer?
- What’s their client service model?
- What’s their value proposition?
- Share about your practice and planning philosophy
- Consolidated Planning advisors often share a “mini open” meeting to discuss our planning philosophy and then share a typical financial scorecard for a new client and highlight the areas relevant to the COI.
- Key verbiage: this is what we usually see when we meet with a client for the first time. Although they may have spent time trying to establish assets or starting a retirement plan, they are not set up well for the things that could disrupt their savings plan as soon as today.
- Transition to opportunities to work together
- Consolidated Planning advisors regularly walk away from initial COI meetings with business opportunities in hand. The key factor in this is efficiently showcasing the value of our comprehensive planning during the mini open.
What Will Working With A Center Of Influence Do For My Practice?
Creating a few key relationships with centers of influence can radically change your practice. A mutually beneficial COI relationship will allow you to provide more services to your client through your COI network and provide you with a steady flow of new prospects for your practice.
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