More than ever, financial advisors today want to move upmarket and attract wealthier clients. They’re fully aware that they can build highly successful practices by working with a relatively small number of very affluent clients.

The trouble is, most of those advisors aren’t sure of the steps they should take to successfully find, attract and serve those next-level clients—and do so cost-effectively. For many, the idea of setting their sights on investors with a truly significant amount of assets is just too daunting.

As a result, they remain stuck in a place that may be comfortable but that probably isn’t generating the success they know they could achieve.

The good news: There’s a very straightforward and clear process for getting in front of ultra-high-net-worth prospects—those with financial assets of $5 to $50 million—and showing them that you’re the advisor with whom they should be working.

COIs: The Foundation For Your Success
The foundation of this process for moving upmarket is developing relationships with centers of influence—other professionals who serve highly affluent clients. These professionals include (but aren’t limited to) accountants, private client attorneys, business brokers and high-end insurance providers.

The reason is simple: COI referrals are the primary source for advisors’ best new clients—with a full 70.8% of advisors reporting that their best clients came from a COI introduction, according to CEG Insights research.

Your first step, then, is to build strong professional relationships with COIs who already work with the types of affluent clients you want more of in your practice.

Partnering With COIs On Private Client Events
Once you have solidified your relationship with a COI, the next step is to host a client appreciation dinner for that COI’s top clients. You handle the planning, the invitations and the agenda. This allows you to highlight your expertise in person to these prospects, as well as show that the COI with whom they’re already working trusts and respects you as an authority and a fellow advisor to the affluent.

There are several reasons why a private client dinner is a powerful step.

1. Showcasing yourself in person builds credibility with potential clients. There are more than 400,000 financial advisors in the U.S. The affluent have choices. By getting in front of them, you can highlight why you should be the one they select.

2. Face-to-face meetings build trust and differentiate in a crowded market. People want to meet their advisors in person.

3. Demonstrating your expertise in person differentiates you from the competition. To the affluent, advisors generally look the same. By highlighting what you do and what makes you unique, in a private event environment, you begin to be seen as different from the pack.

4. In-person meetings build your personal brand and give you exposure. Getting in front of people in today's world builds your brand.

Exclusive Events For Engaging UHNW Prospects
Creating a successful client appreciation dinner takes the right planning in advance and skillful execution in the moment.

1. Work with the COI to create an agenda. When you speak at the dinner, you want to bring value to your guests and connect with them. One way to do that is to present what you see as the key concerns of affluent clients today. For example:

  • Making smart decisions about their wealth

  • Mitigating taxes

  • Taking care of heirs

  • Protecting assets from being unjustly taken

  • Maximizing charitable/philanthropic impact

2. Plan the dinner. Choose an extremely good restaurant, preferably one with a quiet private room where you can have great conversations. The guest list should be small—just the COI’s top clients. This isn’t a ballroom-presentation-type event! If the COI has lots of top clients, do these dinners throughout the year (once per quarter, perhaps).

3. Conduct the event. Over the course of the night, make small presentations (no PowerPoint required, but you might want to set up a whiteboard and have some markers on hand) that help you and the COI differentiate yourselves in the guests’ eyes. Some ideas:

  • The 5 key concerns of the affluent. See above.

  • The 4 Ds. This is where you help prospects see the four different outcomes they can expect when working with professional advisors: Those who disappoint and never provide real value; those who deliver (they follow through on their promises); those who delight (they go the extra mile sometimes); and those like you who defend their clients against threats and unnecessary risks to their wealth so they can tackle their key concerns.

  • The second-opinion offer. Your final presentation should be an offer to the guests. Invite them to a free second-opinion consultation where you and the COI will look at how they’re positioned today in terms of their planning, where they want to go in the future, and any gaps that exist. If you see that they’re positioned well, you’ll say so and encourage them to make no changes and stay the course. If they’re not, you’ll determine whether you’re the best professionals to help them address their gaps. From there, schedule appointments with interested guests, follow up, and conduct the second-opinion service.

Positioned For UHNW Success
By building solid relationships with COIs and then conducting private dinners for their best clients, you will be perfectly positioned to get introduced to qualified ultra-high-net-worth prospects, gain their trust by establishing yourself as an expert who can help them, and meet with them for a second opinion service to determine if they should be working with you to address many of their key concerns.

This is a straightforward way to move upmarket. That said, it’s not necessarily easy. Building COI relationships and conducting face-to-face events takes time and effort. But the return on your investment, time and effort can be game-changing for your practice.

John J. Bowen Jr. is CEO of CEG Worldwide and CEG Insights. Join the "Play to Win" consultation; it's your guide to wealth management success. Capture high-net-worth clients, move upmarket, unlock your potential now!