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Your Board of Directors

A client-based board of directors can give your business focus and lead to more referrals.

By Grant W. Hicks

If I had to pick just one idea to build a dynamic financial planning practice, I would suggest creating a board of directors with your top clients and centers of influence. Ask them for feedback and ideas on every aspect of your business—from marketing to client appreciation and communication. Invite six to 10 of your top clients to a one-hour meeting and ask for feedback on your image, identity, business and marketing.

You may also want to hold a second meeting for your top centers of influence or referral sources. Hold these meetings three or four times a year, buy your “board of directors” lunch and create a relaxed atmosphere that will foster valuable feedback on all areas of your business. It will cost you less than $100 and a few hours of your time.

You can’t get this type of business advice from a book or a course. Only someone who has been one of your clients can give you long-term valuable feedback on what you are doing, how you communicate with people and how your business is perceived. It is this valuable feedback from your top clients and centers of influence that is going to give you the edge over your competitors.

Have an agenda set up for the meeting and be prepared to discuss and disclose the business ideas that you are planning for the future.

Make a change
Change your board members each year in order to get fresh insight on your business and new referrals. By bringing in a new batch of top-referring clients and discussing your business plans, you may find new markets to tap into. Clients can tell you the clubs they're associated with and might invite you to meet their friends and associates in a casual, nonbusiness setting.

Tell your centers of influence that you are looking for clients like them to build your business, and your board of directors will help you develop referrals and clone your best clients. Make it clear, though, that this is not a referral session, but a chance to get genuine feedback on your business.

Niche markets
You can also use this technique for finding niche markets. For example, if you are looking to attract health professionals like doctors and dentists, invite them to a board of directors’ luncheon. If you are targeting more than one market, cluster different types of groups or have several meetings.

Make sure you discuss the ideal client you are looking for. Have an agenda set up for the meeting and be prepared to discuss and disclose the business ideas you are planning for the future. Depending on the group, you may also hand out a client communication plan, business plan or your marketing plans for the coming year. Then ask lots of questions, take lots of notes and make sure the meeting includes something top clients and referral sources can clearly benefit from. After all, it’s all about them.

Grant W. Hicks, C.I.M., FCSI, is a Canadian financial advisor and co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Financial Advisors with Jay Conrad Levinson. You can contact Hicks and sign up for his newsletter at You can also reach him at or 250-248-2824.


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