Boston:  “How do you handle referrals who don’t qualify?” asked Jeremy following a keynote I’d just delivered, then to justify his question, added, “I keep finding myself sitting down with prospects who we really don’t want as clients, but I don’t want to insult them – what should I do?”

Jeremy is being confronted with his Caesarian Rubicon, the river every financial advisor has to cross when serious about working with today’s affluent; being selective in bringing new clients onboard.  This is the reality of any financial advisor positioning his or herself as the advisor of choice in affluent circles. 

But to Jeremy’s question, how does an advisor turn someone away without insulting them?  The short answer is, very delicately, but firmly.  However there are a handful of scenarios that an advisor should be prepared to address. 

The following is my attempt to recreate the typical scenarios our coaching clients have encountered, and verbiage they’ve been coached to use.

Please note, our coaches often role play this verbiage as your delivery requires an inflection that communicates genuine empathy, insight, and helpfulness. 

 

Scenario 1: Referral – A prospect is referred by an affluent client or CPA (referral alliance partner).

Your Response – I’m honored that (name of referral) thinks so highly of our services.  So, (name of prospect) can I ask you a couple of questions regarding your finances?  [affirmative response]  Great.  How are you currently invested?  [not invested, 401k, CD, mutual fund, etc.]  How much do you have invested? [they obviously don’t qualify].

“You know (name), at this stage [name of prospect] you don’t really need the breadth of wealth management services we provide.  What I’d suggest is that you put your money with (XYZ no-load fund or a local bank; provide a phone number for fund company and or name of contact person at the bank).  When your financial situation gets more complex, please call me and we can determine what direction you should take.”   

Next Step – Call the referrer and say something along the lines of “Thank you for referring [name of prospect] to me.  I had a nice chat with him/her – and at this stage, he/she doesn’t need the depth and breadth of wealth management services we provide.  I suggested he/she contact [name of no-load fund or person at a local bank].  As you know [name of referrer] most of our clients are families like yours [referral alliance – like the Oechslis and Boswells” (name of mutual clients that fit your ideal profile – planting the seed that this is the type of referral you want).

 

Scenario 2:  Second Opinion – You’ve offered someone a second opinion while social prospecting.  Now they’re meeting with you in your office and you’ve discovered they don’t qualify. 

Your Response -- “At this stage [name of prospect] you don’t need the breadth of wealth management services we provide.  What I’d suggest is you put your money with (XYZ no-load fund or a local bank; provide a phone number for fund company and or name of contact person at the bank).   When your financial situation gets more complex, please call me and we can determine what direction you should take.”   

 

 

Scenario 3:  Walk In– You have a great reputation and someone just walked in to inquire about your services. 

Your Response – “Thanks for stopping by, can I ask you a couple of questions regarding your finances?  [affirmative response]  Great.  How are you currently invested?  [not, 401k, CD, mutual fund, etc.]  How much do you have invested?” [they obviously don’t qualify]

“At this stage [name of prospect] you don’t need the breadth of wealth management services we provide.  What I’d suggest is for you to put your money with (XYZ no-load fund or a local bank; provide a phone number for fund company and or name of contact person at the bank).  When your financial situation gets more complex, please call me and we can determine what direction you should take.”  

 

 

It’s impossible to cover every scenario but I’m sure you’ve got the gist of it.  And remember, your response requires a delivery that oozes how much you care and want to help.

 

 

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com