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 other effective methods of marketing can be equally demanding. Networking with both prospects and other professionals is a common activity for most advisors, but it is generally most effective for those who are firmly established in the business.
Those who are new to the industry discover quickly that coming up with creative and innovative ways to market themselves is a key element of success. Here we will discuss some of the new ways that advisors are choosing to promote their businesses. (For more like this, see: Alternatives To The Cold Call.)
Financial Advisory “One-Stop Shopping”
One method of "prospecting" that advisors are turning to involves offering multiple lines of business or service. This can have several advantages, as it allows for advertising in previously untapped venues and expands the field of potential clients. By allowing advisors to prospect their current client and prospect base for more than one kind of business, this strategy allows for an expansion in both the number of clients and the amount of services they are paying for.
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 more. This means that current clients can now turn to one advisor (you) for almost all of their financial needs, which can substantially leverage profits with virtually no additional expense. It also means that those looking for a variety of services will look to your practice for convenience. With practices structured to be “one-stop shops”, turnover rates are also very low. (For more like this, see: Boost Earnings Through Financial Planning.)
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 products and services that fit this description are property and casualty insurance, income-tax preparation and mortgages. Because almost everyone requires all three of these at some point during their lives, they are considered good "leader lines" of business to offer. Once a relationship has been established by working with someone in these areas of business, they will be more likely to turn to you for additional products and services.
Income-tax planning is 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 csegment to figure out alone. This is especially true for those looking into the future who are considering long-term tax planning.
The ability to offer this service provides advisors with an enormous advantage over their 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 multiple investments, being self-employed or receiving alternative sources of income.
More importantly, because taxable income from all sources must be reported, simply preparing the tax return will provide an excellent window into the client's current financial situation. Advisors will soon discover that while many prospects may be loath to give up their personal financial data, they 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 divulges more detail about a client’s finances than the client themselves can provide, as many times clients will not have the tax knowledge required to recognize potential problems on their own.
Advisors might want to consider becoming a CPA in order to make themselves and their firms more marketable. The benefits of possessing this designation might surprise you.
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 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. Mortgages also provide a great opportunity to sell life insurance, generally either mortgage-term or universal life insurance, which can be structured so that they accumulate enough cash value to pay off the mortgage if necessary.
Property and Casualty Insurance
Selling property or casualty insurance can greatly expand an advisor's client base. This is especially true of homeowner or car insurance. If an advisor also offers mortgages as a service, homeowners' coverage would complement this service very nicely. 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 potential liabilities for any practice. Realistic cost versus profit projections must be run before venturing into a new line of work. As always, there must also be a reasonable expectation of profit from the new product or service before it is added to your business.
For example, income-tax planning will require that the advisor deal with a host of new issues that go beyond traditional tax preparation, such as setting up tax payment plans, dealing with the IRS and state tax offices, filing late and extended returns, and more. Mortgages and property-casualty insurance also have their respective issues to contend with.
Advisors must be prepared to deal with the potential issues involved before branching out into any new type of business. However, for the advisor who is prepared to add an additional financial product or service, doing so will lead to an increase in business that outweighs the risks.