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How Branding Can Help Wealth Advisors Increase Referrals

By most accounts, both wealth advisors and the clients they serve see referrals as the preferred method of professional service matchmaking. It makes sense. Referrals convey a sense of security and trust in regard to a matter that is both personal and critical (financial well-being). But, are you approaching referrals as strategically as you could?

An article in Private Wealth Magazine suggests that many wealth advisors are not. As a result, they are not getting as many referrals as they could, and they are not being referred to their ideal client type as frequently as they would like. Indeed, a recent study of financial advisory firms conducted by Investment News/Moss Adams reported that less than a third of advisors have a formalized process for cultivating referrals.

So, how can wealth advisors develop a process to increase referral business?

Certainly you need to ask your clients and professional influencers (such as attorneys and tax advisors) to make referrals – that is critical – but it is not enough. They need to want to refer you and they need to understand your practice well enough to make a compelling referral. This is where branding can help wealth advisors increase referrals. When you have a robust brand, clients and influencers know what to say about you and they will naturally refer you to potential clients who are a good fit.

When you have a robust brand – you have clarified your unique selling proposition (created your brand promise), and you have manifested it across multiple platforms (delivered on your brand promise) – you create both trust and understanding. Trust makes it easy and natural for clients and influencers to refer you. Understanding increases the likelihood that the potential clients you are referred to are an ideal fit.

Branding, unfortunately, is too often misunderstood as just having a nice logo or a modestly attractive website. While these items are easy-to-see reflections of a brand, they are meaningless in the absence of a clear and true brand promise that comes to life in every interaction you have with your clients and other professionals.

So, how exactly does a robust brand help wealth advisors increase referrals? There are three core elements:

  • You have clarified what your firm offers and how it is different from its competitors (your brand promise), and you consistently convey this message to clients and influencers in a concise manner. This helps ensure that they can easily understand and remember your message when a referral opportunity arises.
  • The products and services you offer (and the way you deliver them) is consistent with your brand promise. This gives existing clients confidence that making a referral will reflect well on them.
  • Your presentations, brochures, website, advertisements, and client correspondence all reflect and reinforce your brand promise in terms of style and content. This creates coherence and builds trust – when a referral researches you online or meets you in person, what they have been told about you by their source matches what they see and experience.

When your brand is clear and is manifested in every interaction you have with clients and influencers, it is a powerful aid not only to client acquisition, but also client retention. When your brand is unclear, and/or inconsistently applied, it creates confusion and frustration among your clients and potential clients, and thwarts your efforts at increasing referrals.

So, before you invest time and energy in the tactical end of your referral strategy – developing target lists, asking for referrals, and following up – its wise to ensure that the groundwork is laid for you to make the most of every opportunity. Step back, focus on your brand, and set the stage for clients and influencers to become a powerful referral machine.

Read 10 Shortcuts To Marketing Success to understand the difference between marketing and branding and gain deeper insight about how branding prepares clients and influencers to be your brand ambassadors.

How do marketing and branding work together?

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