Building Relationships That Build An Elite Advisory Business
Peruse just about any advisory practice’s marketing materials and you’ll find the section about their exceptional client experience. It’s a common promise, and one that most advisors genuinely strive to honor.
But it’s the advisors truly delivering in this crucial area who differentiate themselves from the pack, and generate tremendous success.
Take advisor Randy Miller, who co-founded Bend, Oregon-based ASI Wealth Management in 1998 with one overarching mission: to always do what’s in clients’ best interests by helping them navigate the minefield of financial services. Today, he and his team of team of 17 manage $1.5 billion for more than 350 clients.
Impressively, ASI’s organic growth has come almost entirely from client referrals over time. “We’ve been successful by just taking great care of our clients,” says Miller.
Although Miller’s desire to deliver exceptional service was there from the start, he also credits several strategies he learned from advisor coaching firm CEG Worldwide for his results—including:
1.Discovery meetings. Miller and his team, like many advisors, used to spend the bulk of his meetings with new prospects talking about themselves, their firm and their capabilities. CEG’s coaching taught them to flip the script by focusing on getting to know each prospective client on a deep level—asking them questions about their values and relationship with money, their goals and dreams, the most important people and causes in their lives and other in-depth topics.
That approach helps Miller develop a whole picture of the person in front of him—one that includes, but goes well beyond, their financial details. “It really works with our philosophy because it gives us so much more information about what’s important to people, what they were trying to achieve, their relationship with their friends and their children, their charities,” he says. “And those are all areas where we can then add value to the relationships.”
Miller says he can’t overstate the importance of these discovery meetings on their success. “Before, maybe two thirds of the prospects we were in front of became ASI clients. But once we started doing discovery meetings, it literally shot up to 99%,” he says. “If people sit down with us and go through the discovery meeting process, it’s very rare that they don’t become a client.”
2. Holistic planning and “little touches.” It’s not simply a nicety to know clients on a deep level. Miller and his team incorporates all he learns about their clients to create better, more personalized wealth management plans that truly reflect their key goals, concerns and dreams—for themselves, the people they care about and even the world at large. The end result: Miller and his team are expertly positioned to help their clients pursue lives of significance and meaning and manage their wealth effectively to get there.
The best part is when Miller and team can combine our planning skills with his deep client knowledge to inform clients of possibilities they don’t know exist. “We’ve had multiple clients thinking they can retire in a few years and we’ve been able to show them that, in fact, they could retire immediately and live the lives they envision for themselves. I can tell you it’s pretty fun to be a part of that conversation.”
But this systematic client-focused approach goes beyond just financial planning, into the advisor-client relationship itself. By knowing clients so well and staying current on their lives over time, Miller can add value in small but powerful ways that strengthen the relationships and foster rock-solid client loyalty. Some examples of these “little touches” include accompanying newly widowed clients to their local Social Security office, sending condolences when a client’s dog died, and gifting a book on Italy to clients who were about to travel there. Says Miller: “Most advisor can get clients into good funds or allocate assets well. But adding value on the relationship side and the personal side of things is something not enough advisors do—and it really makes a difference.”
3. Second-opinion service. Miller’s approach to referrals also focuses on adding value. Rather than ask his clients for introductions to prospects, he offers them something of great value: a complementary second-opinion service for people they care about, to assess whether they’re on the best track to reach their goals. “We are not asking for something, we are providing something to the people who are important to our clients that is significant and can have a major impact on these people’s lives—whether they become clients or not,” he says. “That approach really resonates with us, and with our clients.”
Ultimately, it’s this three-pronged strategy—knowing clients better than anyone else, taking phenomenal care of them both financially and personally, and offering to do the same for their friends and family—that has helped propel Miller and ASI to the elite level of financial advisors in the industry today.