PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 35
think that if they get too specific with their request, they'll
block off whatever referrals they would have gotten. This
just isn't true. More often than not, financial advisers don't
get referrals because they aren't specific enough. "
He suggests thinking of a few " client personae " to cite.
" By putting your ideal client in focus, the existing client will
be able to honestly tell you if he or she knows anyone who
fits the bill. The clearer and more confident you are in your
request, the better your client will receive the request. "
This perspective aligns closely with referral advice
from Vince Morris, president of OneDigital Retirement in
Leawood, Kansas. In his view, the first thing advisers should
do before trying to cultivate a referral is to identify the
market they serve, or want to serve.
" You need to have a defined target market, " Morris says.
" You really want to understand what your ideal client looks
like and start from there. "
Leverage Well-Established Contacts
The next step is to communicate this information effectively
to existing clients and to the centers of influence in
an adviser's professional community. In the world of DC
retirement plans and private wealth management, these
will be audit firms, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) practices,
ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act]
attorneys, bankers or property and casualty insurance
For Morris, being part of OneDigital makes him part of
a company that also offers employee benefits and human
resources (HR) consulting, so he seeks out referrals through
his colleagues in these divisions.
While client referrals matter, centers of influence are
often the more potent referral sources, says Matthew Cellini,
a partner with Greenspring Advisors, in Towson, Maryland.
However, advisers need to understand that developing
quality referral sources can take years, and there is no onesize-fits-all
" Most advisers think referral sources can be developed
quickly, " Cellini says. " In fact, the majority of our referral
relationships have taken five to seven years to develop. Most
advisers want to see a quick outcome, so they often stop
investing in these relationships if they aren't immediately
fruitful, which negates any effort they have put in. "
Pollard sees this dynamic playing out as well. He points
to a notable trend of advisers bombarding CPAs and ERISA
attorneys with direct messages on LinkedIn, proposing a
referral partnership even in cases where the two professionals
have never met in person or share any common
experiences. Naturally, such outreach almost always falls
flat, and it can be counterproductive by making the adviser
seem " salesy, " he says.
Take Advantage of Client Appreciation
Although Pollard encourages advisers to leverage well-established
relationships with retirement industry professionals,
his most practical pointers relate to client-based referrals.
" There are two ways that are incredible for securing
such referrals, " he says. " The first is to bring [your current]
prospective clients to some type of client appreciation event.
This approach has been hard in 2020 and 2021, obviously, but
you could consider online coffee chats or virtual meetings
while things return to a more normal way of doing business.
This strategy is so powerful. It allows your best clients to act
as referral sources and to endorse your services. "
The second approach is to " give your clients something, "
Pollard says, and he is not referring to a bottle of wine or a
coffee mug with the adviser's
logo on it.
" All of the research shows
that people give referrals
of their financial advisers
in order to help the people
they know get
" For example,
issue I see is
they do ask,
are far too
advice that's in their best
interest, " Pollard says. " One
very tangible way to make
this process easier for your
clients-and this is not my
original idea-is to give
them a branded binder of
materials that step through
your advisory process, your
investment philosophies and
your client service approach.
You can then encourage them to use this binder to organize
their personal financial portfolio as you have future
" What happens in the real world is that Prospect X is
talking to Client Y about his financial life, and your client
pulls out the binder for his friend to look over. That's an
amazing referral. It's no pressure. It works like you wouldn't
believe, " Pollard says.
Ultimately, the better an adviser's service, the easier it
will be to get referrals, because the client will truly want to
share with colleagues.
Take 'No' for an Answer
" With [all of the above] being said, you're living in dreamland
if you think every client will want to give referrals, "
Pollard notes. " Even if you're the best financial adviser on
the planet, some people just don't want to do it. No big deal.
If someone tells you they don't give referrals, it's usually
because they had a bad experience in the past, or they're
not sure how people in their network will react to having
their name given out. If you want to explore their resistance,
do so gently. "
Pollard personally recommends that advisers respect
the client's position, however, and live to fight another day.
" If you plow ahead and try to get referrals from people
who don't feel comfortable giving them-for whatever
reason, it's none of your business-you run the risk of
aggravating them, " he concludes. " You don't want to kill
your client relationship for the chance of a referral. "
planadviser.com July-August 2021 | 35
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PLANADVISER - July/August 2021
Proposals That Please
2021 PLANADVISER Small-Plan Services Survey: Small Wonders
Building Out Referral Networks
Look Toward The Future
Now A Fiduciary
Cybersecurity And ERISA
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Cover1
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Cover2
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 1
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Publisher’s Note
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 3
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Data Points
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 5
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Compliance News
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 7
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 8
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 9
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Trends
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 11
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 12
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 13
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 14
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 15
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Proposals That Please
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 17
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 18
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 19
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 2021 PLANADVISER Small-Plan Services Survey: Small Wonders
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 21
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 22
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 23
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 24
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 25
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 26
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 27
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - ‘Like’ Me
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 29
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 30
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 31
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 32
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 33
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Building Out Referral Networks
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 35
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Look Toward The Future
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - 37
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Now A Fiduciary
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Cybersecurity And ERISA
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Q&A
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Cover3
PLANADVISER - July/August 2021 - Cover4