Are you on your clients’ go-to list? The value of the informal board of directors
By Walter Putnam
While teamwork among the staff within your own practice is crucial, I have found teamwork with those outside of our profession to be as important to generating a heartier client base.
Everyone has what I call an informal board of directors. This board is made up of individuals we call on for assistance or guidance when it comes to making decisions or obtaining answers to questions we may have. There are people in your life you can rely on for real estate matters, legal issues, corporate franchise queries, personal concerns and so on.
You are probably considering who makes up your informal board at this very moment. Just as important, are you a part of your clients’ informal board of directors? The benefits are greater than you may realize.
During my initial discussion with a prospective high-net-worth client, we always explore who makes up their informal board of directors, particularly if the person owns a privately held business.
I will ask, “If you had a decision you had to make today, and you had a question about that decision you could not answer, who would be the first person you would call, and why? And, if that person was not available, who would be the next person you would call, and why? What are the different decisions you have to make on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis for which you need assistance or guidance?“
They share with me their go-to people, perhaps friends, attorneys or accountants, a real estate agent, or, quite typically, a parent.
After a list of confidants is compiled, we delve into the specific issues each person on the board addresses. It is a fact-finding exercise that then segues into expressing my interest in being a part of their planning team or informal board of directors. I outline how I can help them and the ways I can round out their team.
If our meeting is a success and the prospect becomes a client, I take the exercise a step further by asking if I may introduce myself to the planning professionals on their board. In doing so, all parties involved have something to gain.
The benefits of teamwork are pretty self-explanatory. We are taught at a very young age to work in teams, to cooperate with others. Indeed, teamwork is necessary for a basketball team to win a game, a kitchen staff to effectively run a restaurant, or a hospital to best serve its patients. The same is true if a financial advisor is to succeed in business. While teamwork among the staff within your own practice is crucial, I have found teamwork with those outside of our profession to be as important to generating a heartier client base. And so, if a client agrees to my meeting the members of their informal board of directors, I collaborate with the client’s attorney or accountant to provide the best service to them. As an added bonus, a great foundation for referrals is also established.
I discuss with these planning professionals the level of knowledge and planning I bring to the table to complement the recommendations they’ve already put in place for the client. Attorneys and accountants are particularly superb planners and create exceptional strategies. However, these strategies work better with the leverage life insurance adds, which is where I come in.
Likewise, attorneys and accountants can assist me in areas outside of my expertise. What is the best part of this scenario? I gain exposure to their existing clients and vice versa. We each offer something to a client the other does not, and by working together cover the entire spectrum of a client’s needs.
Finding a unique way to build up your clientele will always serve you well, particularly if you are newer to the financial services business. Networking and referrals are key.
I suggest taking it a step further by partnering up with other top professionals in your community by joining industry groups. Reap the rewards of your clients’ informal boards of directors now before someone else does.