For more than a decade, Russ Prince and I have been conducting research with wealthy individuals and their advisors. A regular part of our advisory research focuses on the techniques and processes that practitioners use to find and acquire new business, interface with and service clients and manage their practices. We look at new data on both a current and longitudinal basis, to identify new trends and follow patterns that have perpetuated or changed over time.

Suffice it to say that we've learned a lot of interesting things through our research, but none so surprising as the sheer power of a question. Most advisors ask their clients lots of questions-everything from the basics to the outré-but most don't ask the handful of key questions that will jump-start their business, endear themselves to clients and drive their productivity.

Year after year we find that the percentage of advisory professionals that regularly ask their clients for more business is languishing. In fact, in our most recent survey we found that just one in five advisors asks his clients for additional assets to manage on a regular basis. In other words, about 80% of all advisors don't ask for more investment business and are potentially leaving significant assets on the table. Sadly, the situation looks even worse when we move outside the strict scope of money management. Just 16% of advisors bothered to ask their clients for referrals and only 9% approached their clients for non-investment business (i.e., lending, estate planning and insurance).

Why? Well, advisors, like most people, don't relish the prospect of rejection. By avoiding the scenarios that can lead to rejection, the possibility can be avoided altogether. Sure, saving face is important, but something else is lost in the process. In the same survey, we learned that those advisors who did ask for more investment business were given a relative increase of $53,000 in new assets. Even better, those professionals who asked for referrals secured approximately six new clients from the effort and those who asked for non-investment business saw a relative increase of $104,000 in revenue. The results speak for themselves-ask (regularly) and ye shall receive!