How to Get Clients as a Financial Advisor: 2020 Edition

03.02.20 | Natalia Autenrieth, CPA | 0 Market post img

Summary: Very few advisory educational curriculums address the important subject of how to get clients as a financial advisor. Therefore, prospecting becomes the dreaded duty standing between an advisor and his or her vision of a thriving, growing practice. There are many ways to fill the pipeline, ranging from the old-school cold-dialing game, to the proverbial “shaking down the referral tree”, to digital marketing and social media. The key to success is to choose the methods that you are willing to commit to (and get better at with time).

It doesn’t matter if you an expert in all things financial. If you don’t know how to attract clients, you’ll never be a successful advisor. Certifications and training alone, technically complex and impressive as they may be, are not powerful enough on their own. For one, consumers are often confused or unaware of what those abbreviations stand for. Besides, they may not know which technical marks are critical (or even relevant) for their advice needs.

Therefore, in order to make the most of your technical skill set, you must learn how to get clients as a financial advisor.

Unfortunately, lead pipeline development isn’t something they teach in school. So, many advisors must learn this essential skill on the job. Some are immediately thrust into a primarily sales-oriented role, where the bulk (or all) of their compensation is tied directly to their ability to bring in new clients. Others are fortunate to experience a more gradual entry into the sales role as they learn and grow into the business.  

But the bottom line is that every advisor, sooner or later, must learn the skill of finding qualified leads, connecting with them, developing relationships, and eventually converting them into paying clients.

If you want to explore some of the methods to fill your prospect pipeline and grow your business, here are some ideas to get you moving in the right direction.

Take the time to fully understand your target market

Nothing is more important to successful prospecting than defining and understanding your prospects. One wrong assumption about your target market — and you will always struggle to get clients as a financial advisor.

The first step is to pick your niche or specialty. Don’t attempt to sell to just anyone who needs financial services. As world-renowned entrepreneur, marketer, and author Seth Godin once said, “Everyone is not your customer.” What works to generate leads among retirees won’t work as well among small business owners. Different types of clients require very different value propositions (as well as different prospecting strategies).

Some advisors have shared with us that they are reluctant to choose just one area of specialty. Our advice is (typically) to focus on one niche in the beginning. As the business gets stable, you can explore the possibility of adding another niche. Remember that each niche will require different attraction strategies, service offerings, and workflows. Advisors who try to cover too many specialties at once risk diluting the value of their offering and miss out on delivering exceptional service.

3 Effective Ways Financial Advisors Are Finding Clients

Once you know who your target audience is and what they need to hear, the next step is actually saying it to them.

This is where a lot of financial advisors slip up. They know what they have to say. They just don’t know where they have to say it. As a result, their messages don’t get very far.

So, let’s look at three examples of how you could easily get your value proposition in front of three different niches.

1. Retirees and pre-retirees: host an educational seminar

If you want to serve the retiree and pre-retiree marketing, consider hosting educational events for that audience. Financial advisor seminars are effective vehicles for connecting with these prospects. An education-forward event gives them a chance to meet you face-to-face in a low-pressure, comfortable situation. It also provides you with the perfect opportunity to show the audience how much you understand about important topics that affect them.

Sure, different retirees will have different goals. However, as a demographic, many of them care about similar topics. When should they retire? When should they file for Social Security? Is Medicare alone enough, or should they consider Medicare Advantage or Medigap? What about taxes in retirement? Should they move to a continuing care retirement facility, and if so, how can they choose the right one? These are just some of the topics that would be genuinely important and attractive to this audience.

If you want more best practices and tips on pulling off a profitable, successful financial seminar, check out Best Practices for Financial Advisor Seminar Marketing and  5 Reasons Why Financial Advisor Seminars Fail.

As a bonus point, reconsider offering a meal with your seminar. It’s maybe well-intentioned, but the practice has become a red flag among retirees. An education-forward event that’s positioned as a learning opportunity can look more attractive to serious prospects.

2. Widows or women going through a divorce: network with centers of influence

Divorce and widowhood affect women very differently than their male counterparts. This makes widows and divorcees a demographic that can benefit from the counsel of an experienced financial advisor.

Women in transition may not realize that they need a financial planner or advisor — but they do know that they need a lawyer. Attorneys help widows better understand their estates now that they are without their partners. They assist women in negotiating their divorce agreements. That’s why attorneys can become powerful centers of influence for financial advisors who specialize in helping women in transition.

Network with divorce and estate attorneys in your area. Prove to them that your services will benefit their clients, and most will be eager to put you in touch. If you have a collaborative divorce group in your area, consider offering your expertise as a neutral financial planner on their cases.

Keep in mind that attorneys are often busy and very selective of which professionals get introductions and referrals. In order to gain their trust and confidence, you must demonstrate yourself to be an expert who can add measurable value. That might mean obtaining additional designations (like Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) or digging deep into the technicalities of trusts and estate planning, depending on your chosen niche.

3. Business owners and entrepreneurs:  tap into podcasting!

More than 50 million households in the U.S. include at least 1 person who listens to a business podcast.

Are they all business owners and entrepreneurs?


However, there’s no shortage of podcasts for business owners out there that are attracting many listeners. Get booked as a guest on any one of those podcasts, and you’re virtually guaranteed to attract business owners and entrepreneurs who are interested in what you had to say.

Or take the next step and start your own podcast!

That’s exactly what we did with the Model FA Podcast, and what we will be doing for all of our advisor partners at SurePath Wealth during 2020. It takes initial planning and investment, but in exchange, you get lasting, valuable collateral that will be delivered straight to your ideal clients. If you genuinely enjoy connecting with business owners and digging into their work and life, podcasting is a win-win proposition.

Track your progress and adjust your strategy as needed

As we covered earlier, the first important step toward successful prospecting is understanding your prospects. Once you begin your prospecting in earnest – perhaps by implementing the ideas above – the most important thing you can do is track your results and course-correct as needed. Prospecting is an iterative process, which means that it will involve some trial and error.

You might not hit a home run on your initial seminar.

The first lawyer you speak to may not be interested.

Your podcast might struggle to find its audience in the early days.

 As long as you learn from what works and keep taking the next step, these early attempts will serve as the foundation for successful efforts in the future. This is a good time to mention that clarity on your audience and its pain points is essential. Prospecting success will come as a by-product of your dedicated and patient efforts to understand your clients and add value, whether by teaching a free financial planning seminar, working closely with attorneys, or providing education and entertainment through a podcast.

PS. If you are planning on using financial education seminars to attract retirees in 2020, check out America’s Retirement Forum. We are growing a nationwide network of affiliated educators, so schedule a call to discover how America’s Retirement Forum can help you in your prospecting efforts!

Natalia Autenrieth, CPA

Natalia Autenrieth, CPA has audited Fortune 500 clients as part of a Big 4 team, built an accounting department as a controller of a large hospital, and served as a consultant to municipalities. Today, Natalia combines her technical chops with a passion for story, psychology, and writing in her role as the Director of Content Strategy at Brewer Consulting. Natalia loves food — and will drive 150 miles to eat at a random restaurant she has dug up on Yelp. You can connect with Natalia on her LinkedIn page and on Facebook.