For those financial advisors lucky enough to inherit a retiring advisor's book of clients it can often seems like a windfall. In fact, there is probably no easier way for an advisor to increase their business. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to book a celebratory vacation. In fact, there is a lot of work that goes into taking over another advisor’s client book. It requires patience, research, learning about new products and strategies, and time getting to know your new clients in person. Here are a few tips for those advisors that are handed the precious, but often time-consuming gift of another advisor’s accounts. 

Take Time to Talk with New Clients

Just because an advisor handed you his or her book of clients doesn’t mean that it will be easy sailing from now on. In fact, many of your new clients may decide to jump ship and start from scratch with a new advisor. That’s why it’s important to spend ample time introducing yourself to your new clients and getting to know them on a very personal level. These new clients of yours are going to want to feel like they are getting your full care and attention. (For more, see: 5 Vital Questions Advisors Should Ask New Clients.)

It may also be a good idea to have the advisor that is leaving introduce you to his or her clients in person. In this way, you are letting the roster of clients know that their previous advisor trusts you and that he or she is taking the time to make sure that they are being left in good hands. If the original advisor is unable or unwilling to personally meet with you and all the clients on the list you should do so yourself, as soon as possible. A face-to-face meeting with the new clients is always better than a phone conversation or email introduction. People want to see the person who will be handling their financial future, and they want to form personal relationship with that person. They also want to feel that you are looking forward to working with them.

It Takes Longer than You Think

The new client book you inherit may, in fact, come with some unexpected surprises. There may be insurance products or agents you have not worked with or investments and investment strategies you are not familiar with. So, knowing ahead of time that you will be putting in some elbow grease and some hours is a given. You will need to learn an abundance of information about your new accounts, including figuring out why the previous advisor and client made the investment choices they did, how their portfolio is designed, and how they are looking to proceed, going forward. (For more, see: Tips for Breaking the Ice with New Clients.)

While many investment styles may seem similar, each account will vary slightly and knowing how to navigate each particular account and each client's needs will help you retain your new clients and gain their trust and approval. At the same time, you don’t want to let your current clients accounts suffer, so be prepared to step up your game. Potentially doubling the number of clients you are serving will take some effort.

Review Succession Planning Agreements

When handing over a book of clients there are often succession planning agreements involved in terms of the brokers the clients’ advisor worked with. These agreements can include clauses that make it harder to move clients from one brokerage firm to another, for many years. (For more, see: FAs Should Factor Clients into Succession Plans.)

There is also the issue of clients not being covered by the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, which is an agreement formed between firms to allow brokers to get a hold of client information. In fact many intra-industry disputes have arisen around succession agreements, so it would be wise to review all these documents as soon as possible when taking on someone else’s clients. (For more, see: Ethical Issues for Financial Advisors.)

The Bottom Line

Inheriting another advisor's clients can be a big boon to your business, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you are not also inheriting a lot of work and a few surprises along the way. Advisors need to take the time to talk to each new client and review succession planning agreements carefully. (For more, see: Strategies for Winning Advisory Business in 2015.)

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