It’s common knowledge that referrals play a huge role in the success and longevity of anyone’s financial advising practice.
Yet many advisors fail to regularly, if at all, actively ask for referrals.
Here at Consolidated Planning, our planning philosophy and processes in place position you to build a meaningful and thriving financial advising practice. We understand from experience that even the most tenured advisors question where their next client is coming from. And they are right to do so. Knowing how to adequately utilize your networks, including your referral market, is essential in building your practice.
So, why aren’t advisors asking for referrals?
There are several reasons you might not be asking for referrals in your practice. Maybe it’s uncomfortable or maybe you don’t know how to clearly communicate what exactly you’re asking for. In what follows, we’ll help you pinpoint the importance of your ideal client, how to ask for referrals, and questions to ask yourself to help refocus your practice all to become a more referable financial advisor.
The Necessary Groundwork In Asking For Referrals In Your Financial Advising Career
Before you can jump into asking for referrals, it’s important to evaluate where you stand today. Do you know your ideal client? Do you have consistent processes in place?
Let’s start here.
#1 KNOWING WHAT TO ASK FOR
If everyone is your ideal client then no one is your ideal client. This is where the importance of your target market(s) comes in. Your ideal or target client is a person that you can provide value to. A person that you believe your specialization or experience can help.
If you don’t know what this client looks like, how do you know what to ask for in a referral?
Knowing what to ask for in a referral is essential for a good result.
If you ask your client, who do you know, you’ll likely get a response that includes a varying group of people with no commonality.
Try positioning your referral request to align with your ideal client. For example, I’m looking for medical professionals that are 40-50 years old that have been established in their career for 5+ years and live around Denver, Colorado.
Even if your client knows one of these people, that one sure trumps 10 so-so referrals.
Remember, quality over quantity is true for your referrals.
Being able to clearly define your ideal client helps those satisfied clients help you build your practice in a few ways:
- Think of better fits for you and your services
- Easily share you as a referral with their market
- Feel confident in providing referrals to you
Confidence in providing referrals comes from your processes in place.
#2 BUILDING CONSISTENT PROCESSES
A consistent process in itself will not necessarily give you more referrals but it will prevent clients from referring others to you.
People value consistency, especially when it comes to their finances. By establishing a repeatable process, you create consistency and standards.
Think about how off putting it would be if your clients were on the golf course together and started chatting about the fees you charge, or don’t charge depending on the client. Yikes.
Your planning process, and client service model should for the most part follow a consistent, repeatable process. Sure, there will be one-offs but it will behoove you to provide consistency here if you’re asking your clients for help in growing your practice.
How To Best Approach Your Current Clients For Referrals In Your Financial Advising Career
According to The Brevet Group, 91% of customers say they’d give referrals. Only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals.
Wow. That’s a huge discrepancy.
And a huge opportunity for you if you’re not already asking for referrals and asking for them in the right way.
So, how can you start asking for referrals?
Ask for referrals following a referral program.
Advisors at Consolidated Planning have access to the Marketing Administration, Practice Management, and Solutions (MAPS) team to help navigate this process through various exercises to shift the way you approach your current clients.
According to the Pareto Principle’s 80/20 rule, 80% of your business comes from your top 20% of your clients which is why referrals should start with your existing client base.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Who has given me referrals in the past?
- Which of those referrals became clients?
- Have I asked my top clients for a referral?
- Did I ask for what I needed?
- Has my ideal market changed?
- Am I branching into a new market?
These questions are exactly why segmenting your book of business and tracking every interaction and communication in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is helpful in your referral efforts.
So, when exactly are you going to ask for these referrals?
Asking for referrals should become part of your process. Yes, your consistent process.
The way you go about that is up to what you’re most comfortable with. Possible stages might include:
- Every meeting (if you’re someone who can casually but meaningfully work this into conversation.)
- Once you feel like you’ve added value (if you’ve provided solutions and received great feedback.)
- An entirely separate meeting (if you like to take your “top” clients to lunch just to specifically talk about this separate from their planning meetings.)
What’s important here is that you’re direct with your client. Don’t beat around the bush but do be clear that you’re asking for an introduction, simply. There should be no expectation here that this introduction will result in a new client but rather an introduction based on thinking your personalities may match.
How much effort will this referral program take?
Oftentimes there are advisors who are great at bringing on new clients but fail to adequately nurture the relationship. Having a stellar client service model in place makes it easier to ask for a referral.
Your service model should create a process for you to proactively engage existing clients throughout the year, establishing the frequency of communication and meetings to set clear expectations for all parties involved.
You don’t want to be that advisor who only goes to their clients when they need something, like referrals.
Will Maximizing Your Referral Opportunities Help You Build A More Successful Financial Advising Practice?
Asking for referrals requires a much more polished approach than meets the eye. But, where can you start? Start working on maximizing your referral opportunities by:
- Clearly defining your ideal client, even if that means prospecting up
- Establish consistent processes from your planning philosophy to your fee structure
Tapping into your referral market means finding new ways to market to and engage your existing clients.
If you need further support in establishing the right target market(s) and want to have a practice building career, reach out to our recruiters to talk about the resources available to advisors at Consolidated Planning.
2023-154752 Exp. 4/2025
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