The Oechsli Institute’s 2013 Affluent Investor Research paints a very clear picture: Today’s affluent investor insists on having a business and personal relationship with their financial advisor. It’s not that today’s affluent are lonely and need new friends. But rather, it’s a result of how fragile affluent trust has become.
This lack of trust isn’t just about financial advisors; it has a broad footprint that includes the government, politicians, big business, Wall Street, advertising, the media and airlines, to name a few. Other than personal health, financial and family health are at the top of the affluent priority list. In circumstances that today’s affluent know their advisor on a personal level, the trust factor strengthens. The stronger this trust factor, the more comfortable today’s affluent are with the business side of the relationship.
I frequently hear advisors say, “I like to keep my business and personal life separate.” My response is always, “That’s your call, but if you want success with today’s affluent investor, you’d better learn how to mix business with pleasure.”
Here’s how you can get started:
Step 1: Change Your Thinking – Conjure up the image of you socializing with your affluent clients, getting introduced to their affluent friends and developing social relationships. Then, imagine yourself transitioning those affluent friends from social to client relationships.
I know this might sound too good to be true, but it’s today’s reality so embrace it. This mindset shift will have you looking for creative opportunities to socialize with your affluent clients, their affluent friends, and your referral alliance partners.
Step 2: Take Inventory – Each affluent client relationship needs to be reviewed; when was the last social contact? Do you have a relationship with both spouses? When did you last meet with both spouses face-to-face to review their portfolio? How many new clients did you acquire over the past 12 months from this client’s sphere-of-influence? What personal information do you have (i.e., names and ages of children, hobbies, civic involvement, etc.)?
You now want to know everything possible about your affluent clients and their family. This goes far beyond their portfolio. For many advisors this requires a change in mindset.
Step 3: Make Social Contact – Now that you’ve assessed your affluent client relationships, you need to approach each with “strategic intent.” In other words, you will want to determine the appropriate action step for each affluent client, and then one client at a time, take action. For instance, if you haven’t done anything social with an affluent client over the past year, organize a non-business lunch. Making the appropriate social contact will require a bit of creative thinking, but once you understand how each affluent client prefers to socialize, you’re ready for Step 4.
Step 4: Make it an Ongoing Process – I’m assuming that you currently have a good business relationship with your affluent clients. This infers that you have a structured process for reviewing portfolios, updating financial plans, organizing financial documents, making investment decisions, using outside experts, etc. Now you need to incorporate socializing, the pleasure part of the relationship equation, with your affluent clients into a similar ongoing process.
I’ve never heard of an advisor who mastered the art of mixing business with pleasure having any regrets, other than not mastering this art much earlier.
Matt Oechsli is the author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent. His firm, The Oechsli Institute does ongoing research and coachingfor nearly every major financial services firm in the U.S. Visit www.oechsli.com.