Top Referral Tips for Financial Advisors

Most financial advisors are keen to get more referrals. When a person has been referred, they are more likely to stick around and turn into long-term clients.

The problem is how to go about this. A lot of people in the profession want to grow their business but don’t want to come across as “sales-y” and desperate. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Read on to discover some of the various ways to professionally generate and secure referrals.

Key Takeaways

  • Referrals can get financial advisors more clients and increase revenues.
  • The easiest way to get referrals is to earn them or simply ask for them.
  • Doing a good job, going the extra mile, networking, and building an online presence all can help.
  • Other ideas include offering incentives and discounts.
  • Make an effort and you'll likely be rewarded, but avoid being overeager and scaring people off.
  • Advisors must balance servicing their existing clientele and pursuing new business.

Keep Clients Happy

Referrals often arise from word of mouth. In other words, if you want more referrals, you need to be worth talking about.

Do a good job with your current client base, helping them to reach their goals while developing good relationships, and there is a good chance they will tell their friends, family members, colleagues, and maybe even people they pass in the street about how great an advisor you are. Being good at your job is a must as is being likable.


The percentage of wealthy investors who say they found their financial advisor through a referral.


If you want something, often you have to ask for it. Don’t be worried about coming across as sales-y. Once you’ve built a strong relationship with a client you like, it can be okay to bring this topic up.

You don’t necessarily need to try to get referrals from everyone on your books. Choose those you feel may be particularly influential and have lots of great, wealthy contacts. And, of course, it's important you approach the topic in the right way and consider whether the client would be receptive to the idea first. The last thing you want is to annoy an important customer.

A subtler way to ask could be giving a trusted client not just one of your business cards but several so that they can pass them around to their friends in need of financial advice.

Incentive Programs

Incentivize your clients to talk to their friends and family about you by offering something in return. You could start a gift program for those clients who refer you to one of their contacts. If that referral results in a prospective client meeting, show your appreciation with a complimentary financial review or a discount for future services. Alternatively, consider a contest. Whichever client provides you with the most actionable referrals receives the prize.

Once you’ve decided which path to take, announce your referral incentive program on your website or in emails you send clients.

Make sure you comply with all corresponding regulations when you offer gifts to clients

Be Reachable Online

Nowadays, people spend a lot of time looking for information and services, including financial advisors, on the internet. Having a well-designed, professional-looking website and being active on social media are smart moves. It's equally important that you appear on all the financial advisor databases as lots of people rely on them.

Make sure you list more than just your name and profession. Add details about your areas of expertise, success stories over the years, and anything else of interest.

Use Social Media

Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get your message out. The more you link your clients through social media, the more your message can reach their friends and colleagues.

There are plenty of things to talk about. For example, you could share how your financial and estate planning services have benefited clients, comment on current financial issues of interest, and use comments to your posts as a platform for debate and new topics to discuss.

Prospective clients often search for testimonials and reviews of financial advisors on social media sites. In 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented a Marketing Rule for the use of testimonials and endorsements provided by others.

Join Organizations and Give Lectures

Contact local organizations and offer to give a lecture about the importance of financial planning, with a question-and-answer session afterward. Bring business cards and materials for the attendees to read and take. Conduct a survey asking for feedback on your presentation, and for permission to contact the people in the audience by phone or email.

Professional Networking

Is there a lawyer or insurance agent you have worked with whom you admire? If so, trade contacts with that person or make a deal to approach all of your combined contacts as a team. You can offer a selection of services to a group of people with at least one person known and trusted.

How Do Financial Advisors Ask Clients for Referrals?

Financial advisors can ask clients for referrals in several ways, such as by offering incentives or, if the relationship is strong, simply just asking. Advisors should be careful when asking for referrals because a client may not want to share their advisor. Either of these could damage your existing client base, so it's imperative to exercise tact when discussing referrals face-to-face.

What Is the Best Way to Get Referrals?

One of the best ways to get referrals is to offer discounted fees for your client. Another way is to speak at public engagements as a way to generate conversations.

What Is the Hardest Part of Being a Financial Advisor?

One of the difficulties of being a financial advisor is servicing the clients you already have while building your practice by prospecting for new business. Many advisors depend on direct referrals for new business.

The Bottom Line

Referrals are one of the best ways to get more clients and increase revenues. If you are good at your job, your clients may pass on the message and tell people they know. However, sometimes it’s necessary to take further action, whether that be directly asking trusted clients for referrals or networking online or in person.

The best way to grow your business is to get your name out there and get people talking about you. Put in the effort and you’ll likely be rewarded. Just make sure your attempts to grow your business don’t upset your existing client base and compromise the services you offer them.

Article Sources
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  1. ThinkAdvisor. "How to Get More Referrals Without Begging."

  2. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Investment Adviser Marketing."

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