If your referral network isn’t working, check your connection

Financial Planners

It’s axiomatic. Life Insurance Agents, Estates, Planners, Tax Accountants, Trustees, Investment Advisors, Financials. And I have We hear common themes from different advisors, often expressed in frustration that borders on bewilderment. “Why don’t other advisors bring cases to us? Why don’t they introduce our products and services to their customers? Why don’t they understand that? what can you do about it?

These advisors may find it helpful to tackle a series of self-assessment questions that I will present shortly. But first, let’s set the stage.

Communicate but don’t connect

We interact with advisors in various fields. So when I hear one advisor express concern to another type of advisor, I naturally think of a “part two party” response. For example, we hear from life insurance agents that they are frustrated with property planners. And even if they did, they would simply bring them in to address the liquidity needs determined by the property planner without the input of the agent. Do not join early to accommodate As those agents talk, I hear property planners retort, “Most of our clients already have agents.” Or, “We’ll make a plan and then call the agent on your remaining liquidity needs. That’s what life insurance does, right?”

Conversely, we hear property planners complaining that there are no crowd control issues with agent referrals. And they themselves are brought in for estate planning only after the agent has determined the need for insurance and begun that process. To do.

Listening carefully to what and how each side says, both sides have the basic foundation necessary to bring the other to the case with confidence, not to mention a comprehensive and timely manner. They are communicating, but not connecting.

The same applies to the lifestyle settlement business. Some life insurance payment providers are baffled as to why advisors don’t write extensively and introduce their clients to the deal. But these advisers tell me that life insurance payment providers never move from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’ of making life insurance payments. This includes the advisor’s role in trading and addressing the advisor’s concerns.

And what about the trust business? Some trustees wonder why they haven’t gotten the attention they deserve with certain estate planners, those who aren’t even in the trust business. Listening to these trustees, I can understand given the risk of referrals, but I’m thinking of real estate planners who are hesitant to actually make a proposal. They don’t say much about what to ask when interviewing fiduciaries. I don’t understand that. When I tell the trustees what I have heard and what I have not heard, they are confused. However, when asked how the Trustee would answer the questions set out below, it is not at all puzzling.

What’s the root cause of this problem? This lack of real connectivity? It’s lack of communication. That is, a nuanced and customized message that speaks directly to the needs, expectations and concerns of other types of advisors. So here is a recommended set of questions that advisors can use to verify connectivity.

Advance preparation

Before starting this exercise, advisors should review my article Getting Through Gatekeepers to Potential Clients. The guidelines for dealing with internal gatekeepers also apply here. You may also find my articles on networking, interviewing property planners, trustees, investment advisors, and working together on planning projects helpful.

The second step in advanced preparation is for you, the advisor performing these questions, to write down the names of your advisors in various areas and the names of those you are having trouble connecting with. Each type of advisor, the market challenges they face in the market they are in, and the context in which such advisors typically understand your service needs. Ask yourself, “If I were this type of advisor, what would I need to know about someone in my business before I risk making a referral?” Crude words like “they are looking for qualified professionals who do a good job for their clients” don’t cut it, so dig into this. We are here!


Feel free to tweak both the wording and order of the questions to suit the type of advisor you have and the type of advisor you’re looking to develop. Yes, there’s a bit of verbosity here, but it’s very intentional. I read somewhere that repetition can be a source of light.

  • Start one by one with the advisors you identified. How do you think each represents your work and added value? What do they do right and what do they do wrong? What are the key elements they don’t mention outright? Of course, if you’re affiliated with an organization that is an important part of the service you provide, incorporate that into your question.
  • Nearly all advisors tell their clients, “We are working with your other advisors.” What does that mean? Suppose you are sitting across from another type of advisor. Describe your process, your communications, the resources you bring to cases I might be interested in. What are you going to hear that I haven’t heard before? “
  • Why do their clients benefit from working with you instead of their competitors?
  • How does this advisor benefit from working with you? Beyond the value of your product or service itself, this question is about how you work with other advisors and why they It drives you to describe what makes that experience better. Advisors you interact with need to be able to explain in real language how they can extend their service to their clients and improve their marketing. I have. The point is that we don’t just talk about the principles of things. talk about money That means more billable hours, more efficient practice, and more.
  • Even if they understand your business and value proposition, do they know when and how to get involved? This is why it is important to recognize situations where you should.
  • They want to know how an engagement with you should work, what their role is, what their reward is and of course what their risk is and how you can mitigate that risk. Do you know what to do? I am particularly reminded of the Gatekeeper article here. Also note that the most “confused” advisors are those who cannot or are unwilling to answer this question. why? Because there is no process to explain.
  • They know all there is to know and appreciate it, but why aren’t they interested in you? Is it your product or service, or is it you?

get a reaction

Next, ask an experienced and trusted colleague (but not your direct report) to listen to the elevator or other introductory speech you give to each type of advisor. If you don’t have a version for each type of Advisor, that’s where part of the problem is identified. Your colleague should ask two things. One is content. That is, what it covers and whether it conveys a meaningful message in light of what the particular advisor thinks is missing. Another is context. In other words, how do you tailor your presentation appropriately for what kind of advisor? Then solicit feedback and give your colleagues licenses and bandwidth to tell you candidly what your presentation hits and misses. If you don’t have such a colleague, do this exercise with your research group.

that’s it. The ideal outcome of this exercise is to enable advisors to develop strategic assessments and action plans for key connectivity issues.

Reduced mutual referrals

A topic for another day, but I hear more and more advisors voicing concerns about an issue as pernicious as connectivity. They are concerned that the pool of traditional sources of cross-referrals is being depleted. This is because many traditionally “single-field” advisors have expanded into other fields. Whether forming a life insurance, investment or trust subsidiary or forming a partnership. The point is, these traditional cross-referral sources are now trying to keep their business in-house. Again, that’s a topic for another day.

Charles L. Ratner is a commentator on life insurance and real estate planning based in Cleveland, Ohio.

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