Becoming a financial advisor is a challenging endeavor with many requirements. Beyond potential education courses, you may also need to become certified as a certified financial planner (CFP) or chartered financial analyst (CFA) to set yourself apart.
This is not to mention the competition in the field. The United States Department of Labor reports there were 249,000 financial advisors in 2014 and that they are expected to occupy one of the fastest growing sectors of the labor force over the next decade. While the pay can be good, getting those clients and building a solid book of business can be a challenge. If you’re a new financial advisor, consider some of the following methods to secure your first clients.
Cultivate Your Influence
As a new financial advisor, you need to get outside your inner circle. This allows you to build a growing network that can provide ongoing referrals to the services you provide.
You can either do this through social media marketing or through personal relationships though the latter tends to be the most effective.
Don’t limit yourself in growing your network. “My advice to any new financial advisor just starting out is to try to employ ‘leverage’ through the use of centers of influence such as accountants, attorneys, HR directors, business roundtables, as well as through social media. Such relationships with various accounts and attorneys take a lot of time, and, therefore, should be cultivated early in one’s career,” says Donald Reichert, Partner at Capital Design Associates Group, LLC. Reichert’s advice to cultivate that network early in your career is important because you never know who you will meet through networking and making connections earlier spurs career growth sooner.
Serve the Underserved
Retirees, or those near retirement, can be a great source of clientele for many financial advisors. That will only increase as the number of those over 65 is set to double over the next few decades. While that number provides a lot of opportunity for financial advisors, it also provides a challenge – increased competition.
Instead of focusing on the clientele that is over served, consider focusing on demographics that are underserved. “Most advisors work with individuals in or nearing retirement with lush portfolios, but I’m focusing on serving the underserved young professional space. I’ve spent some time focusing on getting in front of advisors to tell our story and how we can help clients,” says Matt Cosgriff, CFP, founder of Lifewise Advisors.
By networking with other advisors, he’s able to not only target those who might be underserved but also breed awareness among the advisor community of how he can help those in need.
Become Involved in the Community
One of the best ways to get your first clients as an advisor is to become involved in your community. Whereas traditional marketing methods require money, community involvement largely requires only time. You may not realize it, but community involvement provides a natural avenue to network with those around you.
Find an organization you support, or an event you enjoy and become involved. This will connect you with like-minded individuals that can potentially turn into clients for your practice. Like the networking mentioned prior, you never know who someone may know, and community involvement is a great way to grow and develop that sphere of influence.
What Provides Little Return
Getting clients as a new financial advisor is a numbers game. You’ve likely heard of, or done some of the following things to get new clients:
- Cold calling
- Providing free meals to encourage attendance at a presentation
- Knocking on doors
- Fish bowls with business cards at trade shows
Those practices, and many others, will provide numbers. However, they can be difficult to build a solid network of clients. “For the first ten years as an advisor, I struggled with the client acquisition process. Cold calling, door knocking, seminars and hoping for referrals were my only solutions. While these methods worked, they were painfully slow, says Devin Carroll, founder of Social Security Intelligence.
This isn’t to say the above-mentioned tactics won’t work. They will work, to a certain extent, but advisors who focus on relationship building and becoming involved in the community can build an organic book of business that spurs the growth your business over the long haul.
The Bottom Line
When people hire a financial advisor they often look to those they see as credible and that can be done best through forming relationships. Through getting out into the community and networking, you can build a firm that will grow with you for years.