As a financial advisor, finding new ways to generate business is an ongoing process that may take up a substantial portion of your time. While the Do-Not-Call registry is making telephone solicitation increasingly difficult, finding effective alternative methods of marketing can be equally difficult. Networking both with prospects and with other professionals is a key lifeline for most advisors, but it is generally most effective for those who are firmly established in the business.
Those who are new to the business are discovering that new ways of marketing oneself are becoming necessary. Read on as we explore some of the ways in which advisors are increasingly choosing to promote their businesses.
SEE: Alternatives To The Cold Call
Financial Advisory One-Stop Shopping
One method of "prospecting" that advisors are increasingly turning to is offering multiple lines of business or service. This can have several advantages, as it allows for advertising in previously untapped venues. More importantly, it allows advisors to prospect their current client and prospect base for more than one kind of business.
Many financial planning firms now offer "one-stop shopping," encompassing investments, all lines of insurance, income tax preparation, mortgages, comprehensive financial planning, business and estate planning, and much more. As stated previously, these firms are often able to get additional business from clients and prospects in some or all of the other areas of planning that they offer. Obviously, this can substantially leverage their profits with virtually no additional expense.
Three Leader Lines
If you are seriously considering following this path in order to grow your business, one important factor to consider is that some products and services will lend themselves more readily to marketing to the general public than others. Three main types of business that fall into this category are property and casualty insurance, income-tax preparation and mortgages. Because all three of these are needed by virtually everyone at some point, they can be considered good "leader" lines of business to offer. Then, once a relationship has been established, it is much easier to generate additional business in other areas.
Income-tax planning is perhaps the one of the easiest ways to get new customers in the door. While more and more people are now able to do their taxes online, actual tax planning is much harder for the do-it-yourself segment to obtain.
The ability to offer this service provides advisors with an enormous advantage over the competition. This is because customers that pay to have their taxes done professionally are more likely to have complex returns, which often results from having investment, self-employment or rental income.
But more importantly, because all taxable income from all sources must be reported, simply preparing the return will provide an excellent window into the client's current financial situation. Advisors will soon discover that while many prospects may be loathe to give up their personal financial data, those same prospects will think nothing of divulging their entire financial lives to their tax preparer, regardless of what other products or services he or she may offer.
Doing taxes can provide a convenient end-run around many of the emotional barriers and obstacles that can often surface during any type of sales-oriented, information-gathering interview. It also often provides a more accurate picture of where a client is financially than the client can provide, even if he or she is willing, as many times clients will not have the tax knowledge needed to know if a problem exists.
Mortgages can be an even more effective way to generate business, if for no other reason than the amount of personal financial information that must be disclosed. Borrowers must provide not only their last two years of tax returns, but also their credit reports and a complete cash flow and balance sheet statement.
Furthermore, this is a golden opportunity to sit down with prospective borrowers and talk about their budgets, debt retirement and general financial future goals. Most mortgage prospects are already thinking about these things when they are trying to buy a house, so the emotional hurdles are usually much smaller in this context than normal. Mortgages also provide a specific opportunity to sell life insurance, whether mortgage-term or universal life insurance, which can accumulate enough cash value to pay off the mortgage if necessary.
Property and Casualty Insurance
Lastly, selling property/casualty insurance, especially homeowner or car insurance, can greatly expand an advisor's client base. If the advisor also offers mortgages as a service, homeowners' coverage would complement this service. As long as the advisor can offer competitive rates, he or she will bring in business that might not be reached otherwise.
Balance Business Volumes with Work Expectations
One critical factor for advisors to remember, however, is that all additional lines of business will bring additional work - and additional liability. Realistic cost versus profit projections must be run before venturing into a new line of work; there must a reasonable expectation of profit from the new product or service offered before adding it to one's business.
Income-tax preparation, for example, will require that the advisor deal with a host of new issues that go beyond actual tax preparation, such as setting up tax payment plans, dealing with the IRS and state tax offices, filing late and extended returns, and much more. The advisor must be prepared to deal with those issues before branching out into this line of service. Mortgages and property-casualty insurance likewise have their respective issues to contend with.
However, in most cases, for the advisor who is prepared to add an additional line of business, doing so will lead to an increase in business that far outweighs the risks and drawbacks.