The Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) Beyond the Basics conference in Las Vegas, which concludes tomorrow, has offered advisors ideas on how to grow their businesses, satisfy clients and be more successful.

Some of the best advice came from a panel comprised of Steve Lockshin from Convergent Wealth, Gregory Vaughan of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Alexander Williams of UBS Financial Services.  Here are are some of the issues they addressed:

Prospering In A Low-Growth Environment

   It is all about focus, Williams said.  "I tried to be all things to all people," he said. He decided to focus his practice on high-net-worth clients, saying, "We reorganized our activities around this niche."
    Vaughan agreed and added, "We figured out what we want to do, how we want to do it, and we became better at it."
    "For us it is fundamentals," Lockshin said.

How To Get New Clients
    "The best source of new business is from clients," Williams said.
    Vaughan thinks it is OK to ask clients to work their connections. He said advisors can say something like this: 'We've identified this person and believe we can be helpful.  Would you be interested in introducing us?"
    Lockshin said centers of influence-other professionals in related fields-are a good source of clients.  In one case, he forged a relationship with a fiduciary by helping him improve asset allocations.

Winning Business In An Initial Meeting
    Speaking of client meetings, Williams said, "I used to go in with a pitch book.  Now I go in with a business card when it is a warm referral."  He it is more important to listen clients.  He also thinks laughter is a nice way to build a relationship.
    "If you get people to talk, you learn a ton," Lockshin said.
    "Be a good listener," Vaughan said.  "I learned the hard way to have a normal conversation."  His favorite questions to ask clients: 'What can we do for you?' and 'What would you like to cover in this meeting?'

Important Prospects And Clients

    "If I am a client, I want to know how many clients like me do you have," Williams said.  He also thinks it is important to see things from the clients' perspectives.  For example, an advisor could explain, "Given what we know, this is exactly what I would do if I was in your shoes."  Figure out where they want to be and then figure out the steps to get there, he said.
    "We don't give the answers before we even know the questions," Vaughan said.  Each person has individual needs, he said. "Like minded people want to work together.  You either connect with the prospective client or you don't," he said.
    Lockshin feels an advisor's "likeability" is a big factor because of the similarities between competitors and the results they offer.
    Vaughan agreed, saying, "It all comes down to ... who do you trust and who do you want to do business with?"

The Keys To Future Success

    "You have to be very careful about understanding the business you want," Williams said.
    "Our industry has gravitated to specialization," Vaughan said. "Clients want you involved and you have to be responsive."
    Lockshin sees estate planning as an important area.  "You can save someone $50 million in taxes, but it takes a long time to do that with investments," he said.

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Mike Byrnes, founder of Byrnes Consulting, helps advisors become more successful.  His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas.  Read more at