How One Advisor Got Closer to His Clients by Moving Away

Mar 15, 2018


#TBT  –  A few weeks ago an advisor reminded me about a blog post I wrote after attending his BD conference back in 2014.  He recalls that although we had attended the same  “open mic” session I referenced in that post, he hadn’t considered his own commitment to service and communication plans until he read my take. We both heard a story about an advisor that grew his business by upwards of 30% – he grew it by moving away – but the advisor was focused on the move while I was focused on the plan. Sometimes the best stories are worth repeating, below is that post in its entirety.      

Originally published 2/25/2014

Broker Dealer conferences can be a pretty one-sided affair. Attendees sit in a darkened room and are talked at for hours at a time, only to be followed by a stroll in the common area where wholesalers talk at them. As I have written before, most attendees don’t have a plan for a conference or even a clue as to how to maximize conference attendance. (See: 4 Steps for Advisors to Maximize Conferences). The good news is that some conferences have recently started providing “open mic” best practice sessions for attendees to ask questions of their peers.

A few weeks ago, I was able to sit in on an advisor “open mic” session and hear some great stories. I’d like to share how one advisor grew his assets under management by 30% and received more referrals than he had gotten in years. All he had to do was to move 600 miles away!

Close to the end of the first day of the conference, the BD’s head of sales and practice management got up to introduce the “Best Practice Idea Discussion.” It was clear that he had called and cajoled a few of the attendees to start the session with ideas on how they were growing their businesses or found efficiencies to increase revenue. With a room that size (about 75), I was concerned that people would feel intimidated to share or ask questions, but the host kept it going very nicely. Many advisors were sharing what was working for them, when “Fred” got up to speak. (I was taking notes so hopefully I got this story right.)

How one advisor got closer to his clients by moving away Click To Tweet

Reaching out

As he told it, a few years back, Fred and his wife decided to move from their home in Connecticut to be closer to their kids and grandkids in Ohio. He felt that after a while, the CT clients would want someone local and they would probably find someone new, but he would try to service them as best as he could — especially until he could build a new business for himself in Ohio. He traveled back every 6-8 weeks or so. But before he did, he would send out an email to all of his clients, letting them know that he would be in town and available to meet if they had an issue or concern. He said that even if clients had nothing to discuss, he would invite a few of them to lunch or dinner. Funny thing — instead of looking for someone new, his clients started referring him to their friends.

I caught up with Fred after the session (yes, over a glass of wine, which seems like a trend for me at conferences), and we had a nice talk about client service and expectations. Fred said that the emails are a huge relationship win for his clients.

“Even if they don’t need anything, they know that I am around. And it also shows that I am thinking of them.” He also suggested that he is in better contact with his clients now because of his regular visits. Fred said a few prospects that he had been courting recently moved their assets to him, as they saw his dedication to communication, consistency, and being “present.”

Have you mentally moved away?

Although Fred and I didn’t discuss it, I thought after our conversation that Fred may have gotten a bit complacent when he lived in CT. Now, rather than waiting for a semi-annual or annual review meeting, Fred is communicating more often with his clients because he lives farther away. He has more focused time when he is in CT, and probably accomplishes more in his two- or three-day visit than he did in a week when he lived there. The best news is that he still has a thriving business in CT, and he is building a second thriving business in Ohio.

As I think about Fred’s story, there are lessons for any advisory business — things you can do today to help build your business, grow your referrals, and even close some prospects. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have a regularly scheduled communication plan for my clients and prospects?
  • Do I call or email (or both) clients to let them know they are important, and that we don’t have to wait until our regularly scheduled meetings to connect?
  • Am I meeting with clients in more informal ways? Am I getting to know them better (lunches/dinners)?

What changes would you make if you moved 600 miles from your clients? Would you be more accessible? Would you be a better communicator? Why not start now and save the moving expense?

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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