These advisors use a basic process to capture additional assets from clients.

Note: This is the third in a series of articles examining the characteristics of advisors who earned a minimum of $1 million per year in each of the past three years.

    The Elite 1200, those advisors who regularly earn more than $1 million a year in income, have three distinct characteristics that drive their success: (1) having a pipeline of new affluent prospects from current clients and centers-of-influence, (2) having a happy and loyal customer base that will readily provide referrals and additional assets under management, and (3) managing a holistic relationship with the client that allows for proactive advice and involvement on the part of the advisor. 

Maximizing Client Relationships
    The Elite 1200 are the only advisors that use these skills in combination to great effect. The Elite 1200 don't let their important relationships stand idle; they actively manage them for productivity, profitability and client satisfaction. Given the amount of time and expertise it takes to secure a wealthy client, and the additional attention and cultivation it requires from you and your staff to build the loyalty and satisfaction of that client, it only makes sense to further mine the relationship to yield the most opportunities for both of you.
    This column will focus on the last of the Elite 1200's core competencies-the ability to financially maximize a client relationship-and, in turn, deliver a wealth management experience to a high-net-worth client. The successful implementation of this skill has the greatest impact on an advisor's net worth and the client's satisfaction.
    There are two principal business development opportunities for an advisor with an existing client: the chance to procure more assets to manage and the possibility to offer a broader range of products and services than are currently being utilized in the client's portfolio.

Capturing New Incremental Assets
    Through the years, our research with financial advisors has shown that most advisors believe they manage the majority, if not all, of their wealthy client's assets. In contrast, our research with high-net-worth individuals and families tells a different story. In a recent study, only 20% of brokerage clients identify their broker as their primary investment advisor, which means other providers are handling the client's assets without the benefit of coordination with the broker. Additionally, the greater the client's net worth, the more advisors that individual is likely to use.
    Advisors in the Elite 1200 use a basic process to capture additional assets from their satisfied clients. Despite its simplicity, this process is rarely used by other advisor/ practitioners, leaving significant assets unclaimed or with competitors. This process is comprised of four steps:
    1. Create loyal affluent clients. It is very difficult to motivate an unsatisfied client to give you additional assets. Therefore, we recommend first evaluating your client base to identify the most satisfied and loyal individuals. Focus your efforts with these people initially, as they will be the most receptive to any discussion with you. (Fostering loyalty among clients is discussed in greater detail in last month's column.)
    2. Identify asset transfer opportunities. It is a good habit to continually review your book of business for situations that will allow you to further cement your client relationships. The most obvious way of garnering additional assets from a client is to identify a "pool" of assets that you don't currently manage (this can include assets with another advisor and bonds/CDs/Treasury bills that have matured with another organization) or a windfall (such as an inheritance, a bonus or profit sharing payout, the sale of a business, etc.). The other asset transfer opportunity is situational. Market volatility, geopolitical news and events that impact a security in a client's portfolio all create unique opportunities for you to build rapport with your client and increase their trust in you. Creating value for clients during turbulent times is a distinct advantage, and one that average advisors shy away from.
    3. Ask for additional assets. This is the most overlooked tactic in the advisory business. Most financial professionals simply forget how to ask for business they deserve. Do not assume that clients, even satisfied ones, will give you greater access to their private wealth without prompting. Clients need a reason to make a change and risk disappointing another provider. You must demonstrate both value and logic, and smooth and skillful communication techniques will facilitate this process. 
    4. Thank and reinforce. This step is as important as the last step. Offering sincere thanks creates goodwill between you and the client, which may help future discussions go more smoothly, and it reinforces the belief that the client made the right decision. Wealthy clients know the significance they play in your business, and they want to know that you are aware of it too. Remember that any additional assets you receive will negatively impact one of your competitors. And don't forget that transferring assets to you may be an administrative hassle for them, so be respectful of their time and effort.

Private Wealth Management
    Wealth management is an overused, and often misused, term in the financial services business these days. But we believe it still has relevance in the world of high-net-worth individuals. Employing a true wealth management approach-providing a broad array of products and services to clients in a consultative fashion that best meets their financial objectives-is a technique that the Elite 1200 use to maximize their client relationships. And bear in mind that a "broad" array of products and services goes far beyond investments, and includes such things as estate planning, derivatives, business valuation services, lending and other credit services, life insurance, facilitated giving and charitable gifting vehicles, property and casualty insurance, personal security, vessel and real estate management and assistance developing a collection.
    Our research shows that only one in 50 high-net-worth families are receiving the comprehensive financial planning and management they need. That leaves a large group, some of whom may already be your clients, who are excellent candidates for wealth management. By contrast, the Elite 1200 are adept at uncovering the unmet needs and wants of their clients, working with their clients to understand their desires and their unique circumstances, crafting customized solutions that address requirements and delivering results.
    The Elite 1200 rely on two things to work in a consultative fashion with their clients. The first is a team of other experts who can help them identify opportunities and implement sophisticated strategies within a client's portfolio. These experts are usually specialists in a particular field, say tax mitigation, and together they create a network of capabilities that supplements your own capabilities. The second vital ingredient for the Elite 1200 is the ability to develop a comprehensive profile of a client in order to understand the true depth, breadth and complexities of their financial circumstances. A quality profile will provide insights on the client's interests and concerns and allow an advisor to uncover needs. There are a number of tools available to help advisors with client profiling. One such tool, the Whole Client Model, is discussed in more detail in our March 2005 Financial Advisor column, "Know Thy Clients." The Whole Client Model was derived from the profiling techniques of the Elite 1200 and further enhanced.
    Whether you manage more of your clients' assets in the way you are today or you expand the range of products and services you presently offer to better meet their needs, or both the net result is a bigger role for you in the eyes of your client. Doing more for them is an opportunity to deliver great service, demonstrate your expertise, distinguish yourself from your peers, develop a stronger relationship and make more money as you build your business.
    The Elite 1200 are different from other advisors in a number of ways, most notably the ability to source new high-net-worth clients, engender loyalty among their best clients and then leverage that loyalty into a bigger relationship. In concert, these skills are extremely powerful, but on a stand-alone basis they are not unique. Any advisor can acquire them and any advisor can use them to their benefit. And, eventually, they can be augmented to work together to benefit the client/advisor relationship.
Hannah Shaw Grove is the author of five books on private wealth and advisory practice management. Russ Alan Prince is president of the consulting firm Prince & Associates.