Crisis Breeds Opportunity By Matt Oechsli

Sep 14, 2011

Right now we have a breeding ground for strengthening current client relationships and developing new client relationships (rainmaking).  But you need to take the time to understand the wants, needs, goals, and psyche of today’s affluent investor.  Make no mistake about it – you can take business away from almost anybody in the current environment, but only if you’re also working to strengthen the loyalty of your affluent clients.  We call this the relationship management – relationship marketing nexus.  It can be powerful!

It’s times like this that separate the pros from the pretenders.  So, what can you do to capitalize on the fragile psyche (confusion and uncertainty) of today’s affluent investors?  I would suggest applying the following four steps.

Step #1 – Proactive Calls  

This seems simple enough, but I’m always surprised by the number of advisors who don’t even do this with their top clients.  Spooked affluent clients calling you are an indication that you’re not doing your job.  This contact must be proactive!  You’re simply re-enforcing the fact that you’re monitoring their financial situation.  You can say something like, “Hi John, we’ve been closely monitoring your portfolio amidst all of this volatility – our focus is on achieving your objectives of _____ and ______.   From here you want to get face-to-face with every top client in a social context if possible.  This is counter-intuitive, but people crave social interaction during challenging times.

Step #2 – Preparation

Our research on the affluent has revealed 16 statistically significant criteria the affluent use to select a financial coordinator.  One of these criteria is creating and executing a formal financial plan, another is risk-tolerant asset allocation, and still another is organizing and coordinating all aspects of their financial affairs. 

You want to make certain you’re meeting expectations on all professional fronts.  That said, you also need to be prepared to know about what’s going on within their family.  The idea is to blend the personal with the professional.  So, if your clients don’t have a formal financial plan, you put this on the agenda.  If they have a daughter who is a budding freshman at Duke University, you’re prepared with a surprise and delight for the daughter and a conversation about college. 

Step #3 – Proactive Meetings

Depending on what you discovered in your preparation step, you will want to proceed accordingly.  If you’re meeting socially, be careful not to discuss much business, if any at all.  Everything should revolve around something that’s important to them on a personal level (daughter attending Duke).

If you happen to be meeting for business, create an agenda that covers the criteria that needs to be addressed.  Remember, your role is to be the solutions provider for the multi-dimensional aspect of their financial affairs.  That means you must be on point regarding their psyche and the solutions you’re providing.  One without the other will not work in today’s environment.

Whether it’s a social or business face-to-face, it’s a “natural Rainmaking opportunity” – which is our step four.

Step #4 – Arrange COI Introductions

This environment has heightened the anxiety of the friends, colleagues, and family members of your top clients.  Many would welcome a “risk-audit” on their portfolio.  Your job is to have your antenna out and uncover the names of these people when in conversation with your clients.

After you’ve uncovered the name, your objective is to get a personal introduction and offer your services for a risk-audit (2nd opinion) almost as though you were offering a favor.  After a bit of small talk, you can, dumb-like-a-fox, ask “Do you think Jack’s had a risk-audit on his portfolio?” 

Follow that above and you’ll bring in more business in this environment than you ever have in the past.  How so?  You’ll be activating the relationship management – relationship marketing nexus, essentially modeling the actions of elite advisors in crisis.  Your purpose is to strengthen the loyalty of your affluent clients and acquire their friends, colleagues and family members as new clients.  They need you!   


Matt Oechsli is the President of The Oechsli Institute, a coaching and training firm established in 1978 to help financial advisors better attract, service and develop loyal affluent clients.   For more information, visit


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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