any gaps that need to be filled. If, after your second-opinion review,
you determine that the person is in great shape with their current
plan, you will say so. Or if you see that it would be in the person’s best
interests to work with someone else, you will either explore working
together or refer them to another advisor who can serve them better.
Our most successful coaching clients have received millions of
dollars in net new assets through this second-opinion process. What’s
more, their clients have been grateful that they were so willing to help
their family and friends make better financial decisions.
2. Ask for an introduction — then ask again. Simply ask your clients
if they know of someone who might benefit from your second-opinion
service. Given how many investors are confused and uncertain these
days, it’s very likely that your client will immediately think of someone. Once you receive a name, immediately ask if anyone else comes
to mind. Continue to ask until no other names are offered. If you don’t
get any introductions the first time you ask, just let them know that
you will be asking again down the road and ask them to think about it
a bit. (In fact, gaining introductions is so important that I recommend
you ask for them at all your regular meetings with clients.)
Your goal for the initial contact with each
prospect should be to schedule an initial
3. Gather contact information and background. Once you have a
list of names, ask for information, as well as what would be the best way
to approach the prospects. Consider asking for a personal introduction;
have the client contact the person to let them know that you will be getting in touch soon. In most cases, it’s best to simply ask the client to give
the person a call or email heads up that you will reach out to them.
4. Commit to following up. Your client is making the effort to contact the people being introduced, so make a point of assuring your client that you will follow up with a phone call immediately and that
you will let him or her know how the conversation goes.
5. Thank your client. Tell the client how much you appreciate the
introductions and that you look forward to providing these people with
a second opinion of their financial situations. Also send a brief, handwritten thank-you note. This has become a lost art and is greatly appreciated.
6. Call each prospect. Your goal for the initial contact with each
prospect should be to schedule an initial second-opinion meeting, during which you can conduct a process of discovery about the person’s finances, goals and values. Tell prospects that your client spoke highly of
them, and mentioned that they might benefit from meeting with you.
If a prospect says “yes” to your offer, schedule a specific date and
time to get together. Explain that you will send a follow-up letter
outlining the financial information and records that he or she should
bring to the meeting in order to make it productive.
may already have an advisor. If this is the case,
point out that in a challenging environment,
many people are looking to have a second opinion to ensure they are truly on track toward
their goals — and that you would be happy to
offer that assessment at no cost. Emphasize
that you don’t take on new clients unless you
can offer them substantial value, and that if you
find that their current advisor is doing a great
job you will say so.
7. Send an invitation. Immediately after arranging the initial meeting with the prospect,
send a follow-up letter to prepare him or her for
the meeting. Include the documents that you
will need to conduct your assessment; these
may include items such as tax returns, brokerage statements, mortgage statements, wills and
trusts, and other financial records.
8. Let your client know the results. Your client who made the introduction will be curious
about how things worked out. You do need to
protect client confidentiality, of course, so get a
prospect’s permission to report back to the client
who provided the introduction. But if you do receive permission, let the client know if you were
able to get in touch with the prospect and, if so,
how the first meeting went. Lack of feedback devalues your client’s efforts on your behalf — and
could make it tougher to get new introductions.
9. Thank your client again. A client who
provides one introduction is likely to provide
more down the road. Keep your clients inclined
to make additional introductions by acknowledging how much you appreciate their assistance. It’s important that you acknowledge the
client simply for providing the introduction,
whether or not the prospect worked out.
By following this process, you’ll demonstrate to your existing clients your value and
commitment to helping investors solve key
financial challenges. In return, you can expect
them to reward you with qualified introductions to new prospects, enabling you to build a
rock-solid business for years to come. FP
John J. Bowen Jr., a Financial Planning columnist, is founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide of
San Martin, Calif., a global training, research
and consulting firm for advisors.