Getting the Most from Strategic Alliances

Smart ways to create “economic glue” with CPAs and other professionals

By Jonathan Powell

Key Takeaways:

  • It can be difficult to build and maintain valuable strategic alliances, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Advisor Paul Carroll creates “economic glue” by taking non-revenue-sharing actions that add real value to his strategic partners.
  • Be a source of research and advice to alliance partners.
  • Connect other professionals to each other to solve practice management issues.

You’re probably well aware that creating strategic alliances with other professionals is a huge driver of growth for many top financial advisors. Relationships with CPAs, attorneys, insurance specialists and others allow financial advisors to bring tremendous value by using a team approach to solve clients’ biggest challenges.

Here’s something else you probably know: Building and maintaining strategic alliances can be extremely difficult. Advisors often struggle for years to make strategic alliances pay off. But it’s worth the effort.

If you’re strategic alliances aren’t coming easily for you, try a different tack. That’s what advisor Paul Carroll did when he was struggling with his strategic alliance strategy. By thinking outside the box, Carroll—founder of Efficient Wealth Management—discovered a way to generate $150,000 in revenue from referrals that came from strategic alliance partners.

Carroll’s approach: Create “economic glue” by taking non-revenue-sharing actions that add real value to his strategic partners.

Value driver #1: Be a source of research. Carroll makes his team available to his alliance partners for research and assistance when they face complex and infrequently encountered issues. For example, they helped a CPA work with a client who was moving out of the country and wasn’t sure what to do with his 401(k). By assisting in this way, Carroll created tremendous credibility for himself. “Being a resource to these CPAs and professionals is very valuable, because they are just as time-pressured as we are,” he says. “When I gave him our branded package of solutions for this client, he thought I was a genius.”

Value driver #2: Create a mastermind group. Carroll facilitates regular learning groups. He and his alliance partners (as well as other interested professionals) meet at each other’s homes once per quarter to discuss practice management issues and to brainstorm ideas to improve their practices. One result: The other professionals view Carroll as a “connector” who is plugged in and who knows the right people. This further enhances his credibility in the eyes of both existing and potential alliance partners—creating strong personal glue and encouraging group members to introduce their clients to Carroll in the process.

The upshot: Cash is not the only type of economic glue that you can use to forge great strategic alliance relationships. By becoming a source of knowledge and assistance for your alliance partners—and by acting as a connector who helps them solve their practice management concerns—you can create tight bonds with CPAs, attorneys and other professionals that ultimately will lead to more referrals and more revenue.

About the Author

Jonathan Powell is a managing principal at CEG Worldwide, LLC in San Martin, California. Working with many of the nation’s top financial firms, he enjoys helping financial advisors transform their professional and personal lives by implementing CEG Worldwide’s research-backed principles.