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How To Grow Your Practice Part 2 - Get Up To Speed on Marketing Yourself

SuperUser Account posted on February 01, 2012

June 1, 2012


Knowing how to market and grow is crucial in this business. Most advisors don't have a high growth rate because they lack a plan or are unwilling to do what's uncomfortable and difficult.

Most advisors only have one or two methods they use for growth. Last month, we presented six ways to grow your business. (Boiled-down, they were: cold calling, hiring cold callers, cold walking, networking, conducting seminars and public speaking.)

Here we present another six ideas in greater detail.

Writing articles for various publications is a great way to get in front of a large audience. This method works very well, but few advisors use it.

There are hundreds of publications online and in hard copy. And they are always looking for good content. Become a writer and start submitting articles to the editors of the publications. Bear in mind, this is inexpensive. It only involves time and requires knowledge of the subject matter.

I think most advisors never try because they think it is harder to get an article published than it really is. (Just consider the advisors who have written books.)

The biggest obstacle may be your own firm. Be sure you're allowed to publish articles. Many firms will officially allow it, but they make it so difficult to get approval that advisors quickly stop trying. This is why it is important to be at the right type of firm that makes it easy for you to grow your business.

In addition to holding seminars (which was explored in the May issue of Bank Investment Consultant), you can also hold classes on various investment and financial planning topics. It could be on something basic like "financial planning 101" or it could be a little more advanced like "aggressive portfolio strategies." You obviously can pick the topic and length of the class.

In most areas you can rent a room in the local public school system. If that's not possible, find some other inexpensive venue. Then you can easily send mailers out to the neighborhoods nearby. If you buy a good list of high-net-worth Zip codes in an area and send out 10,000 mailers, you should have 10 to 30 people.

If you set the class up the right way, you will find that by the end, many attendees will want you to manage their money. Many of them will be so overwhelmed with all the information, they will turn to an expert for help. And who better than the one who just tried to teach them? Dazzle with your knowledge and you will secure some new clients.

Advertising can be expensive and you most likely will have a low response rate. But don't discard the idea. The way to view advertising is to compare the short-term cost with the long-term benefits.

Let's say you spend $1,000 to advertise in a newspaper that is read by 30,000 readers. Even if you pick up one new client who has $100,000 to invest, you will more than cover your costs.

You hopefully will keep that client for life and receive an ongoing revenue stream. On the downside, you cannot control the quality of the prospect you obtain. And once again, be aware that many firms have compliance rules pertaining to advertising.

Here at The Rummage Group, we often talk to advisors who want to leave their current firm simply because they cannot market themselves the way they want. Make sure you are at the right firm to grow your business.

Referral marketing is the most widely used method to build a practice. There are many strategies within referral marketing and many books have been written on the subject. Client appreciation events are one of the most rewarding methods if done correctly.

This is simply hosting an interesting event for your clients. Some advisors even ask them to bring a friend. We have all heard of "pay it forward" and this is the most common way to get clients to give you referrals. If a client likes you, trusts you and feels you offer some valuable information, they are more likely to refer you to their contacts.

The fear from all clients is that you may upset or cause harm to their referrals and it will hurt their relationship. To get more referrals there are a few important things you must do: Make sure your practice is very organized, gives outstanding customer service, has a financial plan for every client and make sure you bend over backwards to show interest in your clients and their families.

Buying a practice has become a very popular way to want to grow in recent years. We get dozens of phone calls each month with advisors wanting to buy a book of business.

But this method of growth is one of the most difficult. There are a lot of buyers and very few sellers. Many firms are promoting this strategy and even financing it for the advisors. When an advisor decides to retire or just exit the business, they usually follow a very similar path.

In most cases, they will first offer their practice to a friend or colleague they trust and respect. If there is no interest from their friend, and there usually is, they then turn to their manager. There is a 99% chance the manager will find a buyer for them. Therefore, very few advisors will ever come across a book of business for sale.

There are a few websites that are in the business of matching buyers with sellers, but this works for a very small fraction of buyers. This method also involves some risk regarding client retention as some clients simply will leave instead of sticking with "the new guy"-you-in the case of a sale.

Contracts between the buyer and seller are common, however there are ways for the seller to get around them in some cases. You have to be very careful when buying a book. One big positive of this strategy is the ease of calculating your return on investment. If you can find a practice for sale this is one of the easiest ways to grow-this is why we keep getting so many calls.

Inheriting clients (and their assets) involves mostly luck. At some point in every advisor's career, they have inherited clients because of other advisors leaving the firm. There are some advisors who have inherited most of their clients, although they won't admit it. (When I was in the business, I used to work with an advisor who inherited over 75% of his clients, roughly $80 million in assets).

Unfortunately, you cannot depend on this method because you never know when or if it will happen. If it does happen, however, it involves little work other than saving the accounts from leaving.

Advisors on average will work for about three to four firms, so sooner or later every advisor will get their fair share of inherited clients. But again, retaining those clients is the hard part.

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of The Rummage Group. He can be reached at