By Kou Takaku
Though businesses have been hard hit by COVID-19 and the ensuing global recession, business owners still need financial services and advice just as much as – if not more than – they did before the crisis.
This diverse group can bring a variety of engaging work for financial advisors, but also requires specialized financial skills from the advisors who work for them.
Like with any other specialization, locating prospects in the business world requires advisors to adapt their methods to match the ways their desired clients operate. In my years working with businesspeople, I have identified six primary ways to find prospects.
By achieving a balance of these methods and gaining the ability to succeed within all of them, advisors interested in working with business owners will lay the groundwork for professional success.
1. Personal hobbies
One effective way to meet this type of potential clients is through your personal hobbies that overlap with business owners’ common interests. Examples include golf, running and yoga. If you’ve fallen out of practice, now is a good time to brush up on your skills before society transitions back to allowing large groups of people to gather so you’re ready to hit the links and network when able.
Establishments like country clubs, once they fully open again, will also attract business owners with group activities and organized, regular events. Sharing a hobby with a prospect makes relationship building and maintenance easier, as advisors and prospects already have some pre-determined small talk that can serve as warm up to a conversation about finances.
2. Center of influence
Financial advisors are far from the only professionals that business owners depend on. Most also have lawyers, accountants and other partners to help them navigate the complexities of corporate ownership. Though these occupations provide different services, they all have the trust of their clients.
Advisors can ask their current clients for introductions to these types of professionals to develop a mutually beneficial partnership. By developing relationships with these key associates, advisors can gain referrals to other prospects in the business world and beyond. They’ll also gain a pool of trusted professional to which they can refer clients who are looking for those services.
3. Business networks
A large numbers of business owners belong to networking and other professional groups, which financial advisors may also be able to join. Chambers of commerce and business forums, for example, offer advisors the opportunity to build relationships with potential clients through shared experiences – after all, financial advisors are in business too.
This method does involve substantial time commitment, and advisors may need to take on event planning or volunteer duties. However, time spent on these efforts lets advisors meet their top desired clients while giving back to their community.
4. Personal networks
Whether advisors know it or not, they often have business owners in their personal networks already. By reaching out to family members, friends and existing clients, advisors can potentially identify new contacts to start building relationships. Clients gained through these connections can have a higher degree of trust in advisors, because they trust the person who recommended the advisor in the first place.
5. Business support services
Many business owners do not have personal insurance products in mind when they first reach out to advisors; instead, they want help growing their business. If desired, expand beyond the traditional field of financial advising to provide cost-reduction analysis.
They can also introduce clients who own businesses to each other – resulting in a networking opportunity or a potential partnership. These extra steps will increase the trust business clients have in their advisors and potentially spur them to refer new prospects.
6. Direct outreach
Finally, advisors can engage in direct outreach, whether that’s mailing flyers to specified targets, paying for ads in a local newspaper or targeted social media ads. Using promoted social has the upside of reaching a large number of people at once, and the cost per person reached is often very low.
The downside of that low cost is a potentially low response rate, which may not justify even the relatively reduced expense. Clients generally prefer to be introduced or referred to financial advisors by mutual contacts, so direct outreach should supplement, not replace, other prospecting efforts.
Finding A Balance
For new advisors, or advisors new to the business owner niche, combining the different methods above and carefully balancing time spent on each is the path to success. Compile a full inventory of strengths, weaknesses and desired growth to determine the best mixture. Then, divide your time according to your own desires for expertise in different methods of prospecting.
For example, an advisor who wants to meet clients through personal hobbies such as golf may need to learn how to play the game. Advisors who don’t like golf, or who don’t live near a golf course, can follow my example of meeting clients through professional networks and providing business services outside traditional advising.
Sometimes, advisors may end up moving away from certain methods to focus on preferred areas of prospecting expertise. In the long run, though, the best approach for any advisor is to have strengths in several of the six areas. Not only does this allow flexibility in business, it also protects advisors from being outmatched. Any advisor might be better at another advisor’s preferred prospecting method, but very few advisors will be better at every method.
For example, if I and another advisor were both prospecting a business owner and the only thing we did was golf with the business owner, I might not win the business owner as a client because I’m not very good at golf. To compensate, I can meet the business owner at a professional networking event and offer business support services to increase my value.
Instead of trying to climb into the top 10% of golfers, which would be very hard, I developed skills that put me in the top 30% of advisors for several different abilities. This allows me to outcompete someone who is only in the top 10% of advisors in one particular thing.
Business owners represent an enticing market for many financial advisors looking to specialize their services. By meeting business owners where they are with curated prospecting techniques, advisors who transition to this niche will set themselves up for success.
About The Author
Kou Takaku is a 15-year MDRT member who works with Prudential Life Insurance of Japan. He has two Top of the Table and eight Court of the Table qualifications, and was a Main Platform speaker at the 2019 MDRT Annual Meeting in Miami. Kou lives in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.