When financial advisors successfully forge relationships with estate attorneys, their high-net-worth clients receive tax-saving expertise while the attorney’s clients in turn enjoy retirement planning assistance and numbers-crunching prowess — a win-win scenario for all involved. But initiating and nurturing meaningful relationships with estate attorneys can be job in itself. Here are a few ideas that can help financial advisors create and maintain those potentially rich and rewarding business connections. (For more, see: Advanced Estate Planning: An Introduction.)
- Hone in on the attorney’s specific goals: Each estate attorney has a unique practice, so when trying to foster relationships with them, don’t simply spout off a boilerplate sales spiel. Speak more and listen less, in order to learn who the lawyer’s clients are, what their clients’ typical assets under management are, and what services to they tend to require. And take special note of those people that have just experienced some kind of liquidity event, such as receiving and inheritance or selling a business. (For related reading, see: An Estate Planning Must: Update Your Beneficiaries.)
- Also try and lock in the macro growth strategy of the law firm itself. Conducting robust due diligence strengthens your position and signals that you’ll take an equally robust interest in their clients’ lives.
- Know your niche, and customize your networking efforts accordingly: if your bread and butter mainly comprise entrepreneurs, reach out to attorneys who cater to this group. However if you chiefly focus more on wealthy families, target attorneys who boast such clients. Be sure to consult the Martindale-Hubbel directory — an ideal tool for sourcing lawyers according to specialty.
- Be persistent: Your networking efforts with an estate attorney don’t end after a perfunctory meeting. Follow-up correspondence is key — and not just between you and the prospective attorney. Also see if the lawyer will entertain the possibility of introducing you to his clients at a power-lunch or other group event. (For related reading, see: Estate Planning Tips for Your Elderly and Passed Clients.)
- Talk up the earning potential you bring to the table: There’s no shame in tantalizing potential attorney connections with the cash they may pocket though their association with you. If your typical clients’ net worth is in tens of millions of dollars that means estate plans can add up to some big sums in legal fees. It’s only natural for an attorney to want a piece of that action. Emphasize how essential you are, to this equation. (For related reading, see: Estate Planning Law Changes You Need to Know.)
- Help with the HNW marketing heavy lifting: To ensure your relationships with estate attorneys truly thrive, give them a helping hand when it comes to marketing. Creating educational workshops that both his and your clients can jointly attend. Not only will this keep the financial planner/estate attorney dynamic well oiled, it will it will highlight the kinds of clients on your roster that the attorney will want to add to his roster, as well. (For related reading, see: Estate Planning: Estate Taxation.)
The Bottom Line
Overall, be a squeaky wheel. Passivity is the main reason financial advisors don’t obtain referrals from estate attorneys. So don’t wait for attorneys to make the first introductory move. Even if you believe a lawyer already has his financial advisor partnerships in place, that’s no excuse for staying on the sidelines. If you can present a solid business plan that promises a better way of doing things, a lawyer may be well inclined to redirect his clients to you based purely on your spirited outreach. Quite simply: it pays to be bold. (For related reading, see: Estate Planning Tips for Financial Advisors and High-Net-Worth Client Tips for Financial Advisors.)