Anyone who has seen a Hollywood movie chronicling what it takes for a broker or financial advisor to break into the financial services industry, will come away with the conclusion that cold calling is the primary avenue to build a customer base. It can certainly work over time, but is a rather inefficient way to spend one's time. Below are five other, and potentially more rewarding, ways for a new advisor to land clients.
New advisors are generally younger individuals and they might be able to use this youth to their advantage. Namely, they might be more familiar with social media and comfortable using it as a way to get their names out there to meet new clients. Social media includes a number of digital platforms. Every advisor should have his or her own website or at least a blog to communicate ideas. Professional sites such as LinkedIn are widely embraced for professional networking online. Twitter is also popular for business use. Facebook is considered more for personal networking, but companies are increasingly looking to the brand to get in front of hundreds of millions of global users.
The use of social media is an important marketing tool for advisors these days, but they shouldn't overlook more traditional avenues to get in front of potential clients. Newspaper print remains a viable source for advertising, with local papers and journals likely to have the biggest bang for the buck and the ability to target a more specific market. Radio advertising can also be targeted to specific demographics. Cable advertising can also be useful and surprisingly affordable, though production costs of creating a commercial can be high. At the most basic level, a brochure explaining the advisor's services should be considered.
Getting out and meeting people is one of the most logical ways advisors can meet clients. Face-to-face meetings are underrated in today's age of social media, in which an advisor can use social media platforms to get in front of thousands, or even millions, of potential clients. A famous Dean Witter commercial from 1990 preached about building a practice by focusing on one client at a time. This certainly rings true, as it is how an advisor moves from a new professional to a seasoned one with many overall customers.
Communicating your ideas publicly is also important for gaining clients. Potential customers can gain confidence in an advisor's talents and abilities by learning about his or her personal philosophy or previous work. Penning a blog may not bring in much revenue, but is a solid step to put thoughts down in writing. The same goes for writing columns for local publications or other social media. Presenting at industry conferences adds a speaking component, which is just as important as putting one's thoughts down on paper.
As a younger advisor builds an investment practice, he or she may be able to commit more time than actual dollars. Volunteering in the community can be one of the most valuable and cost-effective means in getting to know potential clients better. By volunteering for your favorite cause or for a non-profit organization, you can meet like-minded individuals who may end up referring potential clients to you, or become clients themselves. Professional avenues also exist, such as teaching a financial course at a local university and getting involved with younger investors or other individuals who could use some guidance in managing their financial affairs.
The Bottom Line
Successful advisors will try a number of avenues to meet new clients, including the five recommended methods above. Everyone has strengths in certain areas. As an advisor, you may want to emphasize your talents and downplay (as well as minimize) your weaknesses.