Financial advisors who achieve a high level of success in the industry often seem to have a corner on the market when it comes to getting and retaining clients and increasing revenues. Those who eclipse the rest of the pack often take a somewhat different approach to how they do things versus the many newer and/or smaller advisors.

Those who are trying to get their practices to the next level may benefit by using some of the following strategies. (For more, see: Why Advisors Should Focus on the Emerging Affluent.)

Referrals-Plus 

Most financial advisors come to depend on a referral network in order to generate new business. But elite advisors often take their networks to another level, where they promise greater rewards for increased loyalty from attorneys, CPAs or other financial or legal service providers. Those who receive a real percentage of revenue as opposed to mere finder’s fee or other nominal form of compensation are obviously more incentivized to send their clients to an advisor who can competently meet their needs.

Revenue sharing can also help other professionals to develop a greater understanding and appreciate for what the advisor can provide. For example, a CPA who obtains a life insurance license in order to share commissions from clients that he refers will likely become better at recognizing when a client is a candidate for a specific product or service because of the training required for the license. (For more, see: How to Attract and Advise 30-Somethings.

Many elite advisors also choose to both give and receive referrals by means of a personal introduction rather than leave a client to go find or contact whoever they have been told to see. This personal touch can also help to clarify the nature of the referral and prevent possible misunderstandings.

Another tactic that some of them use is to provide a free consultation where they will give an honest second opinion to prospective clients on how well their current advisors are meeting their needs. Of course, the key to this is that the advisor will tell those who appear to be in good shape where they are that they cannot materially improve their situations. But this honest, no-cost form of interaction can make others who seek an alternate perspective much more inclined to seek them out. (For more, see: Don't Overlook Not-Yet-Rich Millennials.)

Go Broad, But Go Narrow

The majority of elite advisors also tend to take one of two paths when it comes to the scope of products and services that they deliver. Some advisors choose to specialize in either one or a small handful of high-end services, such as nonqualified plans, employee stock options or alternative investments. Others choose to offer comprehensive wealth management that encompasses all asset classes including debt, equities, real estate, precious metals, derivatives, business ownership and partnerships, alternative offerings and tax credits.

Of course, elite advisors strive to be absolute masters of their craft regardless of which road they choose. Some advisors also choose to specialize in a specific type of client that requires a higher level of knowledge or proficiency, such as medical professionals or corporate executives.

Focus Your Clientele

Many of the most successful advisors also seek to build and maintain smaller client bases that have a higher net worth instead of a broad base of midrange customers. They get to know their clients on a much more intimate level and provide a type of personalized service that is impossible for retail firms to match. (For more, see: How to Attract High-Net-Worth Clients.)

Their marketing efforts are also usually more focused and monitored in order to maximize their results. Many of them employ computer programs that closely track all of their marketing activities and results and show them which methods of generating clients are the most effective. And very few elite advisory firms now use methods such as cold calling, mass mailings or even seminars; these have given way to digital marketing efforts and simple word of mouth that comes from what they can do for their clients. Elite advisors who do use seminars also usually make them small, informal affairs that don’t contain any kind of specific sales pitch and are often purely informative in nature. 

One of the most important marketing tools for boutique firms today is a comprehensive website that offers a platform through which clients can view and access their portfolios, stay in contact with advisors and also provides mobile access through smartphones and tablets. Firms that seek a more sophisticated form of marketing frequently sponsor events in areas that are of interest to the type of prospects that advisors want to become clients. Wine and caviar tastings or other similar highbrow soirees will attract a wealthier crowd than a sporting event or other similar pastime. (For more, see: Top High-Net-Worth Client Tips.)

Elite advisors often require new clients to be able to deposit a minimum amount of money before they will work with them, such as $500,000. This requirement ensures that any client they work with will be able to generate them enough revenue to be worth their time.

Streamline Your Business

Most elite advisory firms are able to efficiently delegate tasks among their employees so that the principals of the company can spend more time interacting with clients and servicing their needs on a personal basis. Administrative assistants, compliance officers, marketing specialists and traders all have their place, but high-net-worth clients often only know or will talk to the owner or advisor who first opened their account. Division of labor can lead to greater efficiency and fewer errors-and greater client satisfaction. Automated computer programs such as robo-advisors can also free advisors from the need to spend time implementing lower-level portfolio management chores.

The Bottom Line

There is no one right or best way to build an elite financial advisory business, but using the methods of smaller or less successful advisors will not likely produce good results. As in any area of business, the real key to success is the ability to think outside the box and connect with the desired clientele in a manner that is not easily copied by the competition. For more information on how to build an elite advisory firm visit the Financial Planning Association’s website at www.fpanet.org or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at www.napfa.org. (For more, see: Top Ways to Tap the Doctor Niche.)