Financial advisors are increasingly feeling pressure. They face a challenge from robo-advisors on one hand and feel pressure on their fees (and thus profit margins) on the other.

Given these challenges, the high-net-worth market is enticing advisors for a number of reasons. One is that the number of wealthy people is increasing at a greater pace, and the amount of wealth they control is greater than ever before. The great majority of them rely on professionals to manage their investments and provide additional financial expertise.

Meanwhile, the affluent are able and willing to pay and pay well for high-quality investment and financial expertise. That makes them attractive to accountants, lawyers, insurance agents and bankers.

Yet, on the downside, nearly all the services and products these professionals are offering are becoming commodities, if they aren’t already. Besides one-off tax planning, there are very few truly unique financial services or products.

So the main determinant of an advisor’s success will often be business development—his or her ability to find new business, deliver high-caliber financial services and products and offer the wealthy an exceptional experience.
A number of strategies will help them.

Becoming A Thought Leader
Most any financial advisor can become a thought leader—a professional recognized by the high-net-worth community or by professional peers as a leading authority on a topic. And advisors positioned as thought leaders will be able to dramatically monetize their professional brands.

Critical to becoming a thought leader is defining your sphere of authority. You might be knowledgeable about the city or state you work in, about impact investing, etc. Your sphere can be expansive or contained.

Being a thought leader also means providing a steady flow of high-value content to your intended audiences. Consistency is vital. You can either create information on your topic or curate the content. If you do both, all the better.

If you create the content, your material will be truly unique. But to do that, you need particular expertise such as market research capabilities, which are often expensive. Also, developing new content is very time intensive.

Curating valuable content can be much more time and cost effective—and most times just as effective as developing your own content. You can scour the internet and other sources for material. You can use an inexpensive data service or platform designed to provide you with content. It’s powerful to curate because you are customizing information for prospects and other professionals who can refer you. When this material is properly distributed, new business opportunities come your way.

Mastering Framing
“Framing” means putting your clients in the center of the conversation to talk about how they are benefiting from your expertise in ways that really matter to them. Most advisor conversations are about generic outcomes and technical aspects of financial services and products.

It proves to be fairly difficult for many financial advisors to master framing.

To frame the information for advisors, you can eliminate jargon and ensure that the discussions revolve around the particular personality of your high-net-worth investor. This will help you align your financial services and products with what is sincerely important to them.

Consider private placement life insurance. The affluent are often more concerned about legitimate ways they can mitigate taxes than about minor incremental differences in investment performance. Thus they might gravitate toward private placement life insurance. Yet it is all too common for professionals to unintentionally push affluent investors away from this vehicle by spending time and effort explaining the nature of modified and non-modified endowment contracts rather than explaining what it does for them.

By mastering framing, you are going to be much more effective in generating new business. Moreover, your clients’ expectations will be much more in sync with probable outcomes, making the experience of working with you much more rewarding.

Maximizing Client Relationships
It is very likely that a sizable percentage of your current affluent investor relationships can provide you with excellent new business opportunities. But most advisors let high potential business opportunities slip away—often because they do not even know they exist.

New revenues from existing clients are often referred to as “low hanging fruit.” One approach to getting at them is being adept at profiling your clients, which will help you identify new opportunities. For example, you might uncover pools of assets you are currently not managing. If your investment performance is good, you might be able to increase your share of this client’s investable assets.

By skillfully profiling affluent investors, you can generate far more wealthy referrals, since you would have a much better understanding of the relationships your clients have with other wealthy investors. You can also learn from the rapport your affluent client has with these people.

Another easier way of maximizing client relationships is by regularly distributing your thought leadership material to your affluent investor clients, delivering, say, high-caliber and well-framed material on captive insurance companies to successful business owners. This could lead you to more assets under management if you manage the monies in the captive insurance company.

Building Strategic Partnerships With Other Professionals
The most powerful way to find new affluent clients is by getting referrals from other professionals, such as attorneys and accountants. That doesn’t mean “trading clients,” which doesn’t work. One approach is to conduct an in-depth evaluation of another professional’s practice and agenda to see where he or she might benefit from your expertise.

Probably the most effective form of economic glue connecting you to other professionals is your thought leadership content. These materials can be used as a form of currency for getting new affluent investor referrals. They can use this content with their own affluent clients, wealthy prospects and other influential professionals. This creates a multiplier effect.

Thought Leadership is Key
To get the best possible business development results with affluent investors, it’s absolutely necessary for advisors to become thought leaders. Not only will it bring business over the transom, it will underlie the other three core strategies.

It is worthwhile to remember that just about any financial advisor can become a thought leader. Especially now, when there are services and platforms that provide extraordinary high-value content. Some also provide you with an infrastructure to make distribution quite easy and the education to use the material in various creative ways.

The advisory industry is getting tougher, and this trend is only going to accelerate.

What will separate the most successful advisors from the downwardly mobile majority is their ability to implement these four core strategies for cultivating affluent investors. While all four are crucial to building a stellar financial advisory practice, becoming a thought leader is center stage. In concert, these core strategies will create a powerful synergy.

Russ Alan Prince is president of R.A. Prince & Associates.

Brett Van Bortel is director of consulting services for Invesco Consulting.