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Attracting the Affluent

Want to grow your business by 50 percent? Then it’s time to put a plan in place.

By Matt Oechsli

If your goal is to grow your business by turning affluent prospects into long-term clients, it is important to position yourself in a manner that will entice affluent prospects to hire you. Our firm’s 2004 research study, Affluent Decision Making, identified eight criteria the affluent are looking for when selecting a primary financial coordinator. (See box below.)

What you need to do is incorporate these criteria into your practice and apply them one client at time. Soon, you will become “magnetic”: The affluent will be attracted to your business, and it will grow through an ongoing stream of introductions and referrals.

It is important to make an honest assessment of how you stack up in these eight areas. This may be uncomfortable, as you will most likely find some gaps between what you are currently doing and what you should be doing. You will also find areas where you are doing well. But if you are serious about attracting, servicing and retaining affluent clients, you need to make certain that you perform well in all eight of these areas on a consistent basis.

Internal business development
To build solid, long-term relationships with affluent clients, you need to work on your internal and external business development.

Internal business development requires you to reposition yourself with your key clients. You want to become their go-to financial quarterback; that means having them bring all their investable assets under your management so you can provide an expanded range of services and charge appropriate fees.

  1. Proactively contact them when upcoming tax and other changes will impact their investment portfolio.
  2. Clearly reveal your fee structure (no hidden fees, no surprises).
  3. Clearly understand their goals and family situations when providing investment advice.
  4. Bring in experts to help with other financial areas.
  5. Help them select the asset mix for their investment portfolios.
  6. Help them create a financial plan.
  7. Help them coordinate and organize all their financial documents.
  8. Coordinate their investment decisions.

Think of your current client base. Do your clients have other financial professionals in their lives? If so, how consistently are you acting as a go-to financial quarterback for them? It’s the role they want you to fill. Done properly, it’s a win-win. You’re giving your key clients what they want while making certain to “leave no money on the table.”

Your first step is to conduct an inventory of your current clients and identify those who have the most potential for you to “upgrade” and become their financial quarterback. Be like Tom, a planner I know in the Midwest, who was able to add $50,000 to his income in three weeks by talking to one “upgradeable” client each day.

External business development
I want you to think in terms of bringing in 15 new high-net-worth clients over the next 12 months and positioning yourself as their go-to financial quarterback. That means developing a comprehensive financial plan, having them turn over all of their investable assets to your management and coordinating the multidimensional aspect of their financial affairs.

Your first step is to determine the profile of your ideal high-net-worth client and the annual revenue you anticipate generating. To do this, begin by analyzing what I call your Top 25. This is a list of your key clients. Once you have written down 25 names, you’ll want to ask:

  • Why were they listed?
  • What annual revenues do they generate?
  • What is your value relationship? (Your positioning in their mind)
  • What niche do they fall into?
  • Is this relationship a center of influence?
  • How many new relationships have you received as a result of either a referral or an introduction from this client?

It can be sobering to take inventory of new business referred to you by your Top 25, but it’s a necessary exercise if you want to get your fair share of introductions from these key relationships. A good rule of thumb is that each of these Top 25 can bring you six additional clients with a similar profile over the course of your professional relationship.

Categorizing affluent niches
In our studies of the affluent, we have identified four categories of how the affluent achieved their wealth:

  1. Generators of wealth: entrepreneurs, small- to medium-sized business owners; self-employed professionals such as medical professionals, attorneys, consultants, accountants and architects
  2. Earners of wealth: key corporate employees, executives, managers, skilled technicians and salespeople
  3. Receivers of wealth: retirees, divorced women, widows and inheritors of wealth
  4. Managers of wealth (institutional): qualified retirement plans, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, charities and foundations

Determine if any segment predominates in your Top 25. This will help you focus on who your ideal prospects are and how to meet them. You also want to evaluate these affluent segments in terms of your background, circles of influence, areas of specialty, knowledge and access to each affluent category. From here you can implement a five-step process:

  1. Segment your Top 25 into those categories.
  2. Create a dream list with the name of every prospect you would love as a client.
  3. Assign each name from your dream list to a wealth category.
  4. Determine what, if any, connection exists between your current clients in each wealth category and your ideal prospects.
  5. Contact your Top 25 clients regarding the names within their wealth category from your dream list. If your client knows the individual, ask foan introduction. If they don’t, ask who they know who could introduce you.

Your annual goal for the number of new, ideal clients you want to bring into your practice should push you into making this a daily discipline. I have found that 15 new, affluent clients per year is a healthy target. If you work hard and smart, it’s attainable.

And it has been my experience that your business will grow at a minimum of 50 percent over the next 18 to 24 months, and then continue growing at an accelerated pace. Are you interested? I certainly hope so!

This is an excerpt from a speech given at the 2005 MDRT Annual Meeting. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

For more information on growing your business with affluent clients, be sure to read Seven Truths for Attracting, Servicing and Retaining Affluent Clients.

Matt Oechsli, president of Oechsli Institute, has published numerous books, including FastTrack Coaching For Building a 21st Century Financial Practice and How to Build a 21st Century Financial Practice Contact him at 800-883-6582 or


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