Financial advisors today have three choices when it comes to running their practices:

1. They can play not to lose—blocking and tackling the problems that arise, trying to survive whatever comes their way.
2. They can play to play—continuing to do what has worked in the past, hoping that it will remain successful.
3. They can play to win—committing to lead in new ways that can best capture the huge opportunities for organic growth that exist in today’s market.

I believe that right now is one of the best moments in the history of our industry to play to win. The reason: There are so many affluent clients and prospective clients who are concerned, confused and unhappy in the current environment. That gives advisors who rise to the occasion an astounding opportunity to deepen their existing relationships, win new clients from those advisors who are playing not to lose and playing to play, and generate strong organic growth.

Four Steps To Win—Today And Going Forward
The good news: There are action steps you can take right now that can help navigate the current environment and its challenges as well as position you for strong organic growth in the years ahead.

Here are a few:

1. Ensure you’re making frequent, high-quality contact with clients. Recent research by CEG Insights found that a significant segment of today’s investors at all asset levels rate their advisor’s service as neutral, fair or poor.

To ensure you’re not part of those statistics, contact clients regularly. You want to know how often your clients prefer you to be in touch with them, as some want to hear from you several times per quarter while once a year is just fine for other clients. Whatever that amount is, double it right now given all the uncertainty. Today, most clients want to hear from you more than they realize they do.

Important: Your contacts must be high-quality ones. That means you don’t just talk about financial markets and investments. Your clients want to know you care about them beyond the numbers. That means asking them about how things are going with their families, careers, health—basically, whatever is top of mind with your clients is what you need to know. Going deeper than just financial conversations helps build an emotional connection between you and your clients that strengthens loyalty.

2. Offer much-needed reassurance. Coping with the uncertainty and volatility we’ve seen lately can be very challenging—and we’re hearing clients say they’re not getting the information they need about market volatility. There’s no question that clients need your knowledge and experience so they don’t feel left out in the wilderness fending for themselves.

If you provide leadership right now, it will likely generate a big return. Case in point: As seen in the chart, clients whose advisors have talked with them about volatility and helped them understand how the market’s movements relate to their investments say those conversations have deepened their relationships with the advisors. In some cases, they’ve even prompted clients to provide those advisors with additional new assets.

When you contact clients, see how they’re doing given the ups and downs of the market. Ask them if they’re feeling anxious—and let them vent if they want to. If you do that for your clients, they will feel better after talking to you. Then reassure them by pointing out the nature of short-term versus long-term performance in the financial markets. Remind them that nothing fundamental has changed—that they’re still investing for the long term to pursue the higher returns available from equities. Your wisdom and cool leadership is what is needed right now.

3. Get the full picture of your clients’ assets. Twenty-five percent of investors with investible assets between $1 million and $25 million have two or more advisors. For many, if not all of these investors, oversight of the entire portfolio as a whole is essential for achieving their investment goals—a fact they don’t always recognize and of which you must make them aware.

By doing so, you stand to gain some of those assets located elsewhere. When advisors proactively review the performance of their clients’ other advisors, 26% of those clients say they become likely to move assets to the advisors who did the review, according to research by CEG Insights.

Learning about other assets that you may be able to attract is relatively simple. Let clients know you want to be sure that you’re not missing any information about their financial situation by doing a diagnostic review. By understanding what assets they may have that are being managed by another advisor, you can help ensure that their overall portfolio is constructed to maximize the possibility of achieving your most important financial goals.

4. Offer a second-opinion service instead of asking for referrals. It seems like every advisor wants to replicate their ideal clients, but few want to ask for referrals from their existing ideal clients. My advice: Don’t ask for referrals. Instead, offer your clients something of real value: Your complementary assessment of how their friends, family, associates and others are doing financially—and whether they could be positioned better. We call this a second-opinion service, and it’s become one of the most powerful generators of organic growth for top advisors we coach.

Second-opinion service offers are particularly effective in today’s environment—when 11% of affluent clients overall say they are thinking about switching their financial advisor. Among clients with $10 million to $25 million, that rises to 22%. With so many affluent investors seeking better advice, your second-opinion service can serve as a great way to pull ideal prospects to your door.

Play To Win
Clients need you now as seldom before and are looking to you for leadership. Take the right steps today—play to win—and you will reinforce the trust and loyalty of your current clients, while also drawing in a new wave of affluent clients seeking guidance. The end result: You will plant the seeds for truly exceptional organic growth in the coming months and years.

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John J. Bowen Jr. is CEO of CEG Worldwide and CEG Insights.