Help drive referrals with exceptional client service

Practice Management

Help drive referrals with exceptional client service

How you communicate with clients – both proactively and reactively – is key in regard to referral potential.

How you communicate with clients – both proactively and reactively – is key in regard to referral potential. Remember, you must consistently deliver on your brand promise in order for your clients and centers of influence to refer people to you. This is a major driver of trust, and for most financial advisors this involves delivering exceptional service. Receiving exceptional service – as opposed to superior investment performance – is one of the top reasons clients refer a friend or family member to their financial advisor.

Ask any client

Raymond James asked clients if they had referred a friend, co-worker or family member to their financial advisor within the past two years, and why. Forty-six percent of clients said they had, and these are their top three reasons (survey respondents were allowed to check all that apply).

90% - I trust my financial advisor

81% - My financial advisor is knowledgeable

75% - I am happy with the services my financial advisor provides, and I proactively told my friend/co-worker about my financial advisor.

In the 2011 Voice of Marketing Survey by Raymond James Marketing Research, the question was asked: “What influenced your decision to refer a service professional?”

Proactive communication

To engage clients, it’s important to contact them frequently – not only to respond to questions, but also proactively. A J.D. Power report maintains that as a client’s wealth level increases, the more proactive communication they desire.* The more communication you have with a client, the more likely they are to be highly satisfied and offer you a referral.

Key performance indicators – factors that have the greatest potential for increasing satisfaction – with the greatest potential are:

  • Contacting clients four or more times a year about new products/services or their accounts in general
  • Explaining your fee structure to clients
  • Clearly communicating reasons for investment performance
  • Discussing and effectively incorporating risk tolerance into a client’s portfolio

It’s important to recognize there are different ways to communicate, and the best method (whether it be a phone call, an email or an in-person meeting) depends on both the message and on the client.

To be consistent and systematic in your approach, we recommend you segment your book based on communication preferences and create a communication plan for each segment.

Cross over to intimacy

It takes time to build a trusting relationship with clients – but it’s this phase of your relationship with a client that is the key to receiving ongoing referrals. When you build a personal relationship:

  • Exchanges with your client become more enjoyable
  • Meetings are genuinely warm and easy
  • Personal updates eventually lead to financial considerations

These informal exchanges enable you to develop a better understanding of your clients’ goals, aspirations, hopes and fears. You know what they enjoy doing on a regular basis, so you understand exactly what they are saving and investing for.

It can take time, but once a relationship has been developed, it can last for a long time and be advantageous for referrals. It is important to build both professional credibility and a deep, abiding trust, which is maximized by having a close relationship.

Survey results
According to Julia Littlefield, an expert on client engagement among financial advisors, 58% of clients refer others to their financial advisor because they want to repay their financial advisor for a great experience and help them remain successful.

Give a referral first

In order to get a referral, give one. This is helpful when networking with centers of influence, such as CPAs and attorneys. Also, the more you know about your clients and their personal concerns, the better you can refer professionals.

  • Recommend a contractor to a client saving money to renovate or add on to the house
  • Recommend a doctor, dentist or veterinarian – even your favorite bistro – to a client who’s new in town
  • Recommend health clubs, best local schools and soccer clubs to families with children
  • Recommend attorneys, advertising agencies and consultants to business owners

Explore your interests

It’s important to become known in the community. When you join groups to help facilitate a referral network, make sure to join ones in which you share a common interest or passion.

  • Captures your personal interest
  • Attracts the affluent
  • Meets at least monthly
  • Allows you to talk about the work you do
  • Enables you to build rapport

When possible, volunteer to assume a leadership role – it can give you more exposure within the group and help establish you as reliable and trustworthy.

Are you providing exceptional service?

Use our online tool to help you gauge the level of service your firm provides clients and identify areas where you could improve. By improving your service, you can influence your clients to provide you with more referrals in the future.


View more

Back to Top

Related articles

Q&A with VP of Education & Practice Management
Q&A with VP of Education & Practice Management VIEW VIEW
Q&A Video with VP of Education and Practice Management
Q&A Video with VP of Education and Practice Management WATCH WATCH
Four steps to client engagement
Four steps to client engagement READ READ

Sort by topic

Sort by Topic