This should come as no surprise, but it's worth repeating: The biggest opportunity for any broker is learning how to attract and service affluent clients.

And there is no time like the present. The most powerful marketing force of all — dissatisfaction, has created a window of opportunity. Affluent investors feel it at two levels. First, they are uneasy about the continuing economic downturn. Second, they are disappointed by the scarcity of financial professionals who have the knowledge and skills to help them capitalize on the recovery when it does arrive.

Financial professionals who start now to fill that void will be the winners in the next cycle. However, they must act quickly: This window of opportunity will likely begin to close during 2002. I urge you to consider what I call FastTrack 2002.

Here's what it did for a rather ordinary financial advisor named Jack. A prospect was so impressed that he consolidated five of his accounts — worth $6.5 million — with Jack. A week later, the prospect (now client) called to refer another wealthy investor. “It's about doing the right things the right way for the right reasons,” says Jack. “Heck, attracting affluent investors is easy.”

It's not quite that simple, but here are the steps that Jack followed.

FastTrack Step 1: Commit to writing a long-range business plan that is complete with a metrics system that forces you to measure the right indicators of the success you desire. Only 35 percent of the wealth management teams we surveyed had completed this first step.

FastTrack Step 2: Determine your core competencies in key wealth-management areas: budgeting/cash flow management, determining net worth, insurance planning, asset management, education planning, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, charitable giving and lending. In categories where you can't develop expertise, acquire it — by contracting with specialists, partnering or developing strategic alliances. Jack chose alliances.

FastTrack Step 3: Develop and commit to your Financial Advisory Process. This is the way you describe the process you will use to serve clients. Jack got that big client by presenting a compelling description of his process.

FastTrack Step 4: Develop a marketing strategy to target affluent investors exclusively. Only 20 percent of the teams surveyed had finished this step. This was key for Jack. His $6.5 million client is someone he had been reluctant to approach previously. He now has 27 prospects on his “hit” list.

FastTrack Step 5: Include in your daily routine:

  • Complete your current broker business in less than 4 hours.

  • Make one contact with a client you can upgrade to ideal status (to whom you can offer other services in Step 2).

  • Make one new affluent prospecting contact.

  • Have one face-to-face encounter with either an upgrade client, affluent prospect, influential individual or a strategic alliance specialist.

  • Ask for one qualified introduction or referral.

The sustained effort pays off. Jack did his homework and identified a business associate of his new affluent client as a prospect. He asked the client about this individual, hinting that he was considering giving him a call. Since the response was favorable, Jack asked if the client would bring his friend to a breakfast meeting. Three weeks following their breakfast — bingo, another account.

Now, Jack has increased his monthly asset projections to $10 million. Maybe you won't bring in assets at that pace, and frankly, he might not either. Nevertheless, FastTrack 2002 will help you get out there and find wealthy clients. Just remember: they won't be so motivated to switch when the markets rebound. So hurry.

Writer's BIO:
Matt Oechsli

Author and president of the consulting firm Oechsli Institute.