How to liberate your client from their current advisor

By SteveLewit

United Advisors

Most financial professionals try and make separating from an old advisor an easy process. The fact is that it’s not. Relationships, even poor ones, are hard to break, so don’t try and soften the blow.

First, let’s understand that every client has an advisor — either a formal relationship with a financial professional or an informal relationship with someone else. These informal arrangements can range from being their own advisor, depending on the advice of a TV celebrity, newsletter, radio host, or perhaps relying on a friend, relative, their accountant, attorney etc. The point is this, there is always an advisor in the picture and if you don’t deal with that advisor early on in the meeting process (usually the first 20 minutes), you could waste a lot of time and energy and watch your frustration levels climb through the roof.

My selling system is built on eliminating landmines (objections) before they come up and before any presentation is given. One of the major landmines that creates stalls and "think about its" is the client’s current advisor. The worst thing I could hear at the end of three meetings is, “Thanks, Steve. Just let me run this by ______ and see what he thinks of it. It’s looking pretty good to me but give me a couple of weeks and I’ll be back to you.”

Let’s take a look at how to proceed and take the advisor out of the decision process.

1. Identify who the advisor is and how long that relationship has been going on.

Within the first 15 minutes, ask this simple question: “By the way, Jim, who’s helping you manage your money now? How long have you been using this advisor (managing the money on your own)?

2. Test your client’s relationship with the advisor.

“Oh, that’s interesting. ______ years is a pretty long time in our business. You must feel pretty comfortable with him (doing it yourself)?"

This question expresses to your client your appreciation of the relationship. It also gives your client a chance to come back at you and say that he or she is actually not so comfortable. Whatever your client answers, you ask follow up questions: "Can you tell me more about that?" "Can you be a little more specific?"

3. Try to rebuild or solidify your client’s relationship with the advisor.

Most agents try to undermine the relationship with their client’s advisor. We are going to take a totally different tack. We are going to help make that relationship better, even if your client says negative things about their advisor. It might sound something like this: “Jim, sounds like your advisor has done pretty good by you overall, but has made a few mistakes here and there. That could happen to anybody, even the best of advisors. Are you being too tough on him?”

4. Try and send your client back to the advisor

Now, here’s how you liberate your client from their advisor. Just send them back by saying, “Jim, I really appreciate you telling me about the issues you’d like to solve. I’ve been thinking here, since you already have a trusting relationship with an advisor (with yourself as your own advisor), perhaps you should be really sitting in front of that person instead of with me. He may be able to help you and you already know him well. Does that make sense to you?"
Now, one of two things will happen. Your client could say you are right and leave.

While this rarely happens, if it does, great. Otherwise you would have spent a lot of time only to get a "think about it" at the end.

More often, your client will begin to tell you all the reasons why he feels his current advisor can’t help him and how much he wants to work with you. All you do here is nod your head in appreciation, ask your client to tell you more and to be more specific.

5. Create more problems for your client to consider

Most financial professionals try and make separating from an old advisor an easy process. The fact is that it’s not. Always keep in mind that your client has built a relationship (for better or worse) with this advisor. Relationships, even poor ones, are hard to break. So, don’t try and soften the blow.

“Jim, leaving your current advisor is never easy because you have a relationship with him. It’s going to be even harder than you think. I don’t know if I can help you, but if I can, you are going to have to move funds from your advisor to me. When he gets wind of this, he’s going to come down hard on you, telling you to come in and review what you are doing and that he could do that too. How do you plan on handling that if we get that far?”

Now your client has to rehearse with you just what he is going to say to his advisor. If he balks here and you get the feeling that he will collapse under the pressure, then you need to end the sales process. Otherwise, you are going to get a think about it stall at the end.

When you ask questions four and five, you reverse the selling roles — instead of you selling your client on leaving his advisor, your client now has to sell you that he or she is willing to leave the advisor and can handle the pressure the advisor will place on him. Now, you are the client and your client is the salesperson.

6. Follow through and repeat this process at every sales call

Liberating your client from their advisor is not a one-shot process. Every time you meet, you need to begin the meeting by addressing the current advisor, expressing your reasons why that advisor could possibly handle your client’s problem, and making sure that your client can handle the pressure that the advisor will place upon them when the advisor learns that funds are leaving.


Most financial professionals recognize that a client may have another advisor; but the advisor they are looking for is a professional advisor. Understanding that clients have many kinds of advisors and that these relationships are difficult to break will help you diffuse this critical landmine, save time, and have more successful results.