She had decent assets and the qualities I was looking for: She was educated, seemingly successful; she lived and worked nearby, shared the same values as me and was looking for a long-term relationship.

No, this wasn’t online dating. Rather, I was looking to meet the perfect financial advisor, someone who I could entrust with my money and who would have intimate knowledge of my life’s goals.

Just as there are online dating services to help people find romance, there are matching platforms for clients to meet with ideal financial advisors. And they are growing in number and size. Do they work? For both dating and advisor matching, the answer is “sometimes.” And in both cases, the right match could conceivably forge a partnership worth millions of dollars.

Let’s stay focused on the advisor-client business and leave the dating sites for now.

Matching systems are becoming part of a financial world that is increasingly going digital. Online trading has overtaken the legacy practices of calling in buy and sell orders. There’s automated portfolio reporting. Inevitably, then, it should come as no surprise that the last frontier of human interfacing, prospecting, would go virtual—whether it’s through investment questionnaires or by client profiling.

The more common way—the most common way, actually—for advisors to find clients is through word of mouth. Study after study shows the effectiveness of referrals, said Michael Kitces, director of wealth management for Pinnacle Advisory Group in Columbia, Md., writing about the topic in a recent blog. But he also wrote that those referrals might be less about marketing skill and more about dumb luck.

“An increasing number of studies,” Kitces writes, “are showing that a significant portion of growth-by-referrals is not really through any proactive referral marketing strategy, but instead is merely the result of passive referrals that show up on their own.”

Active referral strategies, on the other hand, can be targeted, tracked and tweaked to attract the right type of client to an advisor’s door. This is where sophisticated matching platforms come into play.

These services can geolocate, translate risk profiles into reality (preferred trading strategies), and leverage the power of artificial intelligence to design and map investors’ preferences to advisors’ track records—all at the click of mouse, a push of a button or the swipe of a screen.

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