business woman in backgound drawing lighbulb in red marker on foreground (Photo: Shutterstock)

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The first months of the new year are introspectiontime.  What went well last year? What will I need to dobetter this year?  The business planning process alwaysaddresses "How will I fill the prospecting pipeline?"  Ifyou had a banner year, opening plenty of new accounts in 2019, youcontinue what you were doing.  But if there's room forimprovement, read on.

Business accounts

You are looking for benefit plan business.  The worldis your oyster. Schools and other large nonprofitsqualify.  Local companies too. Associations providingbenefits to members are also on the table.

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Free service for other business. Years ago, a financial planner decided he would transition into thebenefits business.  His strategy was to approach schooldistricts in his area with a proposal. He would do financial plansfor everyone in senior district management at no charge. He only had one request. He wanted to be notified when they puttheir benefit plan out for competitive bid that year. There mightbe a public announcement, but it might not be easy tofind.  He might not have done any business on the planningside (although people could approach him) but he got into therunning for the group benefits plan.

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Lost clients.  Companies change planproviders for many reasons.  They also go through a reviewprocess, issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP).  Who didyou lose in the last few years? Why? Who took your place? Any ideahow they are doing?  Any friends at the company, employeeswho can tell you about customer service? How about getting in lineand competing for the business all over again?

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Executive education.  Here's an ideafor individuals where you need the company connection. Firms want their executives focused on running the company andhitting their numbers.  These senior managers also need tofocus on their retirement planning. If you have a client who is atop-level executive, float the idea of a series of on-siteeducational classes for executives.  You gather data,prepare retirement planning projections, what-if scenarios usingMonte Carlo type analysis. Let them see the scope of their ownsituation and how they can address it. You aren't selling, but whenfaced with a problem, executives are very comfortable in "hiring aconsultant" when they don't have the time or expertise to addressit.

Investment business

Agents and advisors wear many hats.  They writeinsurance. They do managed money.  If someone likes youand they need to do other business, it's important they know youare in a position to help.

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Foundations and endowments atnonprofits.  You volunteer, belong or writechecks to several.  Some can be pretty big. If theorganization awards scholarships, there's likely an endowment inthe background.  There probably isn't one person pickingstocks or day trading the account! They likely hire a fewprofessional money managers, sending a chunk of the assets to eachone.  The investment committee should periodically reviewthe relationships, deciding who to drop and who to add. What arethe nonprofits where you have a connection? Do someresearch.  Is there an endowment? Ask the right people ifyou and your firm can compete, using your managed moneyofferings.

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Who has a problem?  Referrals areoften associated with fresh money or money in motion.  Itisn't as common as we think. We often find out after the fact. Howabout asking friends and clients who they know that has a specificproblem.  "Who do they know that uses professional moneymanagement and isn't satisfied with the relationship? You would beinterested in talking with them." Another approach might be: "Whodo you know that works with an advisor but hasn't heard from themin a long time?"  When people complain, it's human natureto want to help. Introducing you is seen as a step towards helpinga friend solve a problem.

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Give me more money.  2019 has been apretty good year for the stock market.  Year to Date, theS&P 500 is up about 29% (12/18/19). If your client hasinvestment assets with you, share this news.  Sit down andconduct annual portfolio reviews. Show them how they've done.Suggest a new idea. Let them know you like what they own (assumingyou do) and don't want to change any of their holdings withyou.  This idea requires fresh money. Stop talking. Maybethey will pull money away from an outside account, sending it toyou.

Personal insurance business

This is what made your firm famous.  It's the firm'sflagship product.

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Everyone needs insurance, don't they? When people buy a house or a car, they need insurance.  Dopeople buy these big-ticket items online? No. At a big boxstore?  No. They buy houses from real estate agents andcars from dealerships. Both purchases are done throughindividuals.  They are often asked for advice, especiallywhen insurance is a requirement for completing the purchase. Ifpeople are new to an area (homebuyers?) they likely ask their realestate agent where they can buy the insurance they need. How can you become one of the names that's top of mind?

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Millennials and saving.  It's tough tosave money.  Your millennial friends might be maxing outtheir 401(k) and IRA accounts, but they should still be savingmore.  Many financial services firms are looking forprospects with a pot of cash. You can help people without a bignest egg, yet have great cash flow.  Whole life insuranceprovides both a death benefit, if something happens to them and itbuilds cash value over time. Have this conversation with yourmillennial friends.

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People ask leaders for advice.  Youmight belong to a religious congregation.  The pastor isoften approached for advice. Spiritual guidance is their strongsuit.  Financial advice might require some help. They needa safe set of hands for referral purposes when someone needs adviceconcerning money.  The question might often be: "I havesavings, but I need more income." Does your religious leader knowwhat you do, how you help people? Have this conversation. They likely have a few parishioners in the same profession. Try tojoin that group when they offer a member of the congregation a fewnames to consider.

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There are many other ways you can fill the prospecting pipelinefor 2020.  Hopefully these ideas get you thinking.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be foundon Amazon.

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”