Marketing Corner – Tuesday, Oct. 28th, 2014

Asking for a Referral

You have just provided a great service to a client. Perhaps you built a long-term retirement program for them from the ground up, or you helped maximize their existing retirement instruments. Whatever the case, you’ve satisfied your client’s planning needs. Now what?

Ask for a referral.

Referrals are a simple, low-impact way of generating qualified prospects and it’s a shame that more advisors don’t ask for them. Why do so many advisors avoid asking for a referral? There are probably many reasons, but it could have something to do with the potentially awkward request—you have worked hard to capture this client and after an involved process you may not want to spook the client with more pitches and sales language.

Asking for a referral should neither be pitch, sales, or marketing (or at least seem like these things). It is an understanding and evaluation of the relationship you have created with your new client. With that said, we wanted to provide advisors with some general guidelines for asking for referrals.

Demonstrate Your Value

The easiest way to prime a client for a referral is to do the best job that you can. Be comprehensive and leave the client with a positive feeling about their financial future.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

Value yourself and value the services you provide. If you are confident in your abilities, your mission to help consumers, and your expertise, you should be able to ask for a referral.

But Don’t Be Too Confident

Asking for a referral should be a sincere, genuine request. Being too confident and aggressive in approach can not only close you off from a referral, but also sour the advisor-client relationship.

Don’t Badger or Pester

If the consumer has expressed some hesitation with a referral or dismisses it politely, don’t press too hard or become too desperate.

Be Quick

Don’t make asking for a referral take up too much of your time with your client. It should be a quick transaction.

Don’t Make it About You

Some advisors will express that the reason for a referral is to help their business grow, etc. While this may or may not be truthful, approaching a referral this way can turn it into something too self-serving.

Target Your Referrals

Ask about anybody that would fit within the spread of products you facilitate. Ask about other individuals that may be nearing retirement or others that have gone through a life event, such as a birth or change of job. Be specific in your request.

Follow Up

Be prudent when you obtain a referral and follow up promptly. Above all, maintain a professional and respectful approach.

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Marketing Corner – Tuesday, Oct. 21st, 2014

Going Beyond the Elevator Speech: Key Questions For Advisors to Answer

Creating a sound elevator speech is almost a requirement in the financial services industry. While most advisors have this down, many don’t plan for the questions beyond that initial elevator speech. A few weeks ago, we discussed good questions advisors should ask their potential clients to start the conversation and keep it going. This time we want to explore key questions advisors should be prepared to answer. It could be in anticipation or offered up rhetorically. However these questions are broached, they are crucial in the lead conversion process because they present a level of transparency about your role in the financial planning process. They go beyond your elevator speech and are opportunities for you to strengthen your value proposition.

Key Questions:

Who are you?

Not an existential question; rather a chance for you to explain who you are to the consumer and give a summary of your expertise. You want (and need) to know who your consumers are—it’s important for them to know who you are.

Do I really need an advisor for this?

Drive home the value of an advisor in the planning process, then establish the value of you filling that role for the client.

Why should I do business with you?

This might be an uncomfortable question and rarely would it be stated this bluntly. But a straightforward answer is a good way to reinforce your value proposition.

How are you different from others that offer similar services?

It is important to differentiate yourself from the other options available to consumers. What gives you an edge over other financial advisors or agents?

What are your commissions? How are you compensated?

Compensation can be an awkward area to discuss. Some advisors may leave this until later in their presentations, some include as part of their initial pitch. However the question comes about, a straightforward and concise answer is the best way to deal with the discussion of fees, especially if you have already established both the value of an advisor and the value of you being that advisor.


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Marketing Corner – Tuesday, Oct. 7th, 2014

How Much to Save for Retirement

Individuals often focus on their ultimate retirement savings number. However, most consumers don’t understand the impact outside forces can have on their retirement plans; how preparing for retirement is not as simple as reaching a savings threshold. The process of accumulating capital for retirement and beyond is not always easy and clear-cut. Those in the personal financial services industry know that it is best to establish retirement programs that offer steady growth and adaptability, to anticipate change as much as possible, and to implement strategies that can arise over the challenges of accumulation.

It is important, as you converse with your clients and prospects, to discuss these challenges. This establishes that the financial planning process is not as straightforward as purchasing an annuity or life insurance policy and that it requires an expert hand in shaping a plan that responds to your client’s needs as they get older.

A diagram, such as a funnel, is a simple but powerful way of illustrating this. This yellow-pad concept shows sources of income and assets on top feeding through the funnel. This can be specific to what an individual has or generic. The funnel itself indicates the collected resources. The smaller opening at the bottom shows the distribution of retirement income and, the smaller arrows on the side illustrate what can reduce this collected value—such as inflation, taxes, saving to spend, asset withdrawals, and cash needs after death.


The funnel is an uncomplicated method of demonstrating the input-output system involved in financial planning. You probably have access to detailed, complicated illustrative software, but at a pivotal moment in your conversation with your client or prospect, the funnel is a casual, simple, and potent way to catch your client’s attention as you delve deeper into the planning process.

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Marketing Corner – Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

Starting the Conversation

Getting the conversation started on the right foot can be the difference between a new client and a missed opportunity. We know that for advisors constantly going through the lead generation process, conversations and value propositions can become rote and dispassionate, despite all best efforts. Or pitches may not convert for a variety other factors, indicative and unique to the prospect. You could be giving the most logical and emotional presentation of your life and it could still not secure that client.

In just about any ideal business situation, it all begins with that initial conversation. It begins with enough time for the consumer to not only hear the logic and practical value you are presenting with the products you carry, but enough time for them to accept and visualize that value; to not only make an emotional connection with you as the helpful and expert guide in the financial planning process, but to connect emotionally with their own long-term goals.

With that said, we have compiled a list of engaging conversation starters and probing questions.

  • “I want to figure out if what we have is the right fit for you. Can you tell me about your [business] [retirement plans] [family] [assets]?” etc.
  •  What’s driving you to explore financial planning?
  • What is preventing you from reaching your retirement/financial goals?
  • What keeps you up at night about your financial plan?
  • Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your financial priorities? I need to determine if the planning I provide is relevant to your situation.
  • What concerns you most about your finances?
  • What is your way of dealing with…(mitigating taxes, stock market volatility, etc.)
  • What do you have in place to deal with…(loss of job, disability, death, etc.)
  • What does financial independence mean to you?
  • How well is XYZ(investment strategy, savings strategy, etc.) working for you?
  • How has XYZ(tax changes, stock market volatility, life change) impacted your financial plan?

Asking the right questions can set the tone of the conversation. They serve a practical purpose—you need to know what the consumer’s goals, priorities, and investable assets are—but it also establishes a sense of intrigue for the consumer. It conveys that you are engaged with the prospect, interested in them, and determined to provide solutions to their planning concerns.

Of course, if this is a prospect that has contacted you they already have the solutions on their mind. But by presenting engaging questions in this way, you are able to make them hold that concern in their head while you move from general, relationship building discussions, to specific information that you can use to illustrate how their financial goals are possible.

Obviously there will be other questions that factor into your conversations with clients, such as technical, transactional, and simple yes-no questions. But the important thing is to create an exploratory space, one that is open and comfortable to the consumer and one that naturally creates a feeling of collaboration. This is their life, their money, their retirement, and their legacy—if they could have figured it out, they would have.

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Marketing Corner – Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

Spenders vs. Savers

Most individuals, even those without a large amount of investable funds, recognize the value of saving money. It’s a common sense idea that many people learn early in life from an allowance or a part-time job as a teenager.

If only we had the same concerns we had when we were younger! But now there are bills, mortgages, car payments, utility expenses, education costs, and a whole host of other things to worry about. If we’re smart and able, we might try to partition whatever is left at the end of the month into a savings vehicle. This demonstrates a “spend first, then save” mentality. In this mindset, savings become an afterthought, coming after key expenses and discretionary income.

But flipping this mindset proves to be a successful model of personal finance. Obviously not everybody is going to be in a position to exhibit a “save first, then spend” shift in their current income situation, but the mindset is useful for any consumer of any age to adopt, because it tempers them into accumulating larger sources of income that can be used for efficient and steady vehicles like annuities and cash value life insurance.

It doesn’t even have to be a “save first, then spend” mentality that allows consumers to build the personal capital they need to participate in long-term retirement programs. It could be a simple shift of factoring saving into the straight-line expenses of their households.

How can this simple, common sense financial philosophy be used to market yourself as an advisor? How can “save now, spend later” be used to convert leads? As you meet with consumers initially identifying whether the prospect is “spend first, save later” or “save first, spend later”.

An easy way to start this conversation is with a simple visual on a notepad.


There are generally 2 types of people. Which category do you fall in?

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