It is no secret that many successful advisors get new business from their existing clients. For many, it is their main source of growth.  As important as referrals are to an advisory practice, some advisors do not have a strategy for gaining referrals.  This is a point that can separate the successful practice from the underachieving businesses.

What is more interesting is that some advisors have been so good at getting referrals that they do not even have to ask to get their clients to give them.

This article is dedicated to sharing some of the philosophies advisors have about referrals and how ten of them are successful at getting new business without even asking for it.

Indirect Marketing
"We actually prohibit our advisors from asking for referrals, as we have the attitude that asking for a referral is putting our interests above the clients and it can put them in an uncomfortable spot.  With that said, we do let our clients know they can bring friends and family members to events.  They can also share articles, free email updates and information on our website and social media sites.  Sometimes my clients pass on copies of my books to their friends and family and we find out later that a book was the catalyst that got those individuals to initially call us."

Ric Edelman, Chairman and CEO,
Edelman Financial Services, LLC, Fairfax, VA

Lunch And Learn
"We have a unique bi-weekly interactive presentation about using all one's wealth (money, time, talents, wisdom, experience and relationships) to live the life an individual wants to live. It is amazing when you provide broader lessons that communicate something meaningful, people are drawn in and referrals follow."
Marc Lewyn, President,
GV Financial Advisors, Inc., Atlanta, GA

White Glove Treatment
"In the past, through our own research of our 600 clients across the country, we identified two main reasons clients leave:  from lack of performance or lack of service.  Soon after, we developed a life-style concierge service, which includes auto lease/purchase, theater tickets, dinner reservations, sporting event tickets, help with setting up private foundations and special travel arrangements.

One example of what we have done in this area is that we made arrangements with auto dealerships, agreeing that if we sent them business they had to provide the best pricing.  With one client, the dealership was able to provide a 2-year lease with a buyout option that ended up saving the client over $5,000.  When the client bought the SUV, we were the first stop he made, showing it off like it was his new baby.  

These types of things are what people talk about.  My feeling is that if you treat people extra special, good things happen and we have found referrals come in droves."

Doug Lockwood, Principal,
Harbor Lights Financial Group, Inc., Manasquan, NJ
Associated with LPL Financial

Client Education
"When a person refers business to you they are putting themselves on the line.  They will only refer you if in the end they will look better for making the introduction.  My philosophy is to wow our clients with knowledge, letting them know that we are in this business to protect their money and grow it.  Often when a client comes into my office they only understand 50% of what they are hearing.  By the end of our meetings, I hope that they understand that the new normal is really the old normal.

As far as techniques to get referrals, I hint to them, 'If they know of anyone that has been paralyzed by all of the volatility, we can help them.'  We have also launched new podcasts on our website and are encouraged that our online reporting shows that our clients are forwarding them to people they know."

Carrie Coghill Kuntz, President,
D.B. Root & Co, Pittsburgh
Associated with Commonwealth Financial Network

Excellent Client Service
"We do not get referrals because we do not ask for them. Instead, we get endorsements, which we define as unsolicited referrals.  

What is the secret?... we do the basics right.  We keep adding value to our existing clients, and if they can see the visible impact, they will talk about it.  We create a wow factor by providing client focused innovation with personalized solutions to their unique problems.  Also, in an environment when client service is at an all-time low, we deliver impeccable Ritz Carlton plus service.  And finally we deliver flawless execution, as one is not graded by greatness, but instead by how many mistakes are made."

Krishna Pendyala, Chief Operating Officer & Coach,
Waldron Wealth Management, Pittsburgh, PA

Expertise Within A Niche
"Our firm has a contrarian view to referrals.  For example, my father hasn't asked for one in 20 years.  What we have done to create leads in the past is focus on fraternal organizations -- one example being state administrators.

As a result of comprehensive planning and specialized service around the unique needs of these groups, our clients talk with their co-workers and friends in the lunch room, at events, etc.  Those conversations are what build our business."

Geoff V. Forcella, Principal,
Forcella Wealth Management, Redding, CA
Associated with LPL Financial

A Gift That Ends Up Giving Back
"The best thing about client referrals is that there is a much higher probability to meet other people just like our clients, as opposed to using traditional marketing approaches.  With that said, we don't believe in the hard-sell approach - we want leads to come naturally.

To accomplish this, our referral strategy is part of our well-thought-out client marketing plan.  This year we were successful with one campaign in which we gave our clients L.L. Bean tote bags that had our logo on the side with an 'enjoy the summer' note.  Not only did this gift make our clients feel appreciated, but, through using them, their friends and family have asked, 'where did you get that great bag?"