Although most every financial and insurance advisor says they desire to have more affluent clients, so few actually achieve that goal. This disparity motivated me to contact 25 managers in the financial and insurance industries to determine why this is so.
As Michael Sendwick, a 20-year manager of financial teams says, “Success probably has more to do with mind-set than any other single factor. Specifically it’s that ability to first formulate a sales/marketing plan and then have the tenacity to see it through to completion.”
The word “tenacity” came up repeatedly as I spoke with managers about marketing to the affluent. My conclusion is that it’s probably the most important factor that separates those who are successful in building relationships with the affluent and ultra-affluent, and those who do little more than dream about it.
I remember back many years hearing a lecture by one of the world’s most prominent investment bankers. He made the comment, “If you ask 100 people if they would like to become a millionaire, you’re likely to have 100% say ‘Yes’. However, if you tell them precisely what they need to do in order to achieve that status, I doubt you would get more than 2% who would be willing to do what’s necessary.”
The managers I spoke with were unanimous in their belief that any advisor can be successful in marketing to the affluent. As one said, “I’ve had team members who are extroverts as well as painfully shy introverts. Those with awe-inspiring intellect and those who I sometimes wondered how they found their way home in the evening. Yet all of them were successful in their goal to build strong, long-lasting and numerous relationships with the wealthy.”
Their one common trait? Tenacity. So what exactly does that mean? As these managers commented, the path was pretty much the same for any advisor seeking to attract more affluent clients.
Nancy Thrushman, a 15-year veteran of the financial services industry outlined the steps. “First they need to decide upon who they want as clients. It might be a specific group or niche such as affluent dentists or affluent retailers. Alternatively the target market might be defined as specific individuals with whom they wanted to build relationships with.”
However, there is one market Ms. Thrushman said that is never targeted. “Successful advisors never define their market as “affluent clients”. That’s way too broad. Much too general. A bit like saying let’s go eat American Food. If you’re going to develop a marketing plan it needs to focus on a very specific audience.”
The next step was, not surprisingly, to develop a plan for building relationships with this group. Not a general plan. Not a plan that begins with “and then when I get a meeting I’ll talk about..” What the most successful advisors did was create a sales and marketing plan that addresses the real-world reality, that the affluent clients you want to do business with have absolutely no interest in meeting you.
As Mr. Sendwick said, “This is the first test of how much tenacity an advisor really has. Unfortunately most people drop out at this stage. Sure they’ll do business with the affluent if it’s easy to get. But the reality is that it isn’t. It’s hard word. It requires creativity. It requires a plan.”
He went on, “If you’re serious about getting more affluent clients, it requires a lot of “heavy mental lifting” to create a plan that deals with reality and then the tenacity to implement it.”
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