New Year, New (or Continued) Focus


While I don’t completely shut down over the holidays, I do make an effort to leave my devices off for extended periods. This year, our family even spent a few days on a Canadian dog sledding expedition where we were so remote that there was no cell service and even better it was so cold (-20F) that no electronics would work anyway. We were “stuck” with each other, without distractions or interruptions all sleeping in the same tent and I loved it.

The purpose of the shutting down is to recharge and refresh for the upcoming year, and I am excited as we kick off 2018. I think there will be many opportunities for advisors to show real value beginning with the new tax law. In fact, I have seen many advisors take advantage of this tax change micro moment by reaching out to their clients proactively. That is definitely starting the year off right.

Resolutely focusing on referrals

Before I left, I read the results of our annual New Year’s resolution survey of financial advisors.  More than 400 of you responded in December when we asked about your priorities for 2018. While I would have bet that referrals was going to be number 1, I was surprised that 6 of the top 10 are also focused on communicating/educating and contacting their clients. And those six are really just tactics of the strategy at number one:  Take steps to become more referable and increase client referrals.

For those of you who watched our webinar The Elements of Referability, you’ll remember successful advisors don’t use a tactic or gimmick to get referrals, rather they build on a strategic framework to grow their businesses. Those successful advisors start with building a persona or avatar of their ideal clients, and ensuring their offering matches the needs of their clients.  Once you know the client, it should be easy to understand what they are looking for in a relationship with an advisor.

What does your 2018 client letter look like?

The number 2 resolution is to “Increase [my] clients’ awareness of additional services that they may not know I offer.”  To me this is merely a tactic that will help with those referrals.  For example, many advisors will send out letters with market recaps for 2017. Instead of sending the market performance (if they were interested they could have googled it on Jan. 1), send a recap letter on YOUR performance. Think about the actions that will be of interest to your ideal client. As example, for your retiree clients did you:

  • Create financial plans for clients nearing retirement?
  • Model cash flow scenarios in a rising interest rate environment?
  • Meet with children of clients to discuss their parent’s estate planning and expectations?
  • Review tax forms during the year to proactively look for ways to reduce the tax paid while managing pension, social security and other retirement income sources?
  • Work with clients on charitable planning such as trusts, donor advised funds and gifting?

If so, let them know about it.

How referable are you anyway?

Your year-end letter is a tactic, yes, but should be part of the overall strategic plan to become more referable. If you watched the referral webinar and/or read the paper, you know that there are more steps that will greatly enhance your referability.

Want to really know how referable you are?  As a follow-up to the research, I am pleased to tell you about a new tool that scores your referability.  The Referability Index is a one-of-a-kind benchmarking tool that advisors can use to rank themselves on their referability.  While not available to everyone yet, we have an exclusive on the tool (and a discount). Want to learn more?  Email me or your SEI business consultant for more information on how to access the tool.

2018 is here.  I hope that you are rested and ready to go because your clients will be looking to you for advice on various topics that will pop up. (Those micro moments!)  Your prospects will need you too – they just don’t know it yet.  It is time that they do.

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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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