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Avoid the hard sell when going after assets

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Advisers want to manage most or all advisory assets, and clients are undoubtedly aware of this.

But what are the best strategies for convincing clients to transfer their assets without seeming mercenary?

The best way is to make clients understand why consolidating their assets is good for them, advisers say.

Most often, that means getting clients to see the benefits of a comprehensive, goals-based approach.

The first step is getting all the financial details.

“You can’t bowl a strike without seeing all the pins,” says Lisa Detanna, managing director and senior vice president at Raymond James in Los Angeles. “If you’re going to take a holistic, comprehensive approach to planning and create a roadmap, you’re going to need to look at all of a client’s assets.”

Advisers emphasize that asking the right questions, listening to the answers and explaining why the information is important tends to quickly convince clients about the value of sharing information.

Many clients may be working with one or more advisers and have assets “all over the street,” Detanna says.

That is precisely where she can help them the most, by offering a comprehensive view and explaining how creating a financial plan fits into their goals and lives, she says.

When successfully taking that approach, assets are likely to follow without any sort of hard sell, advisers say.

“We don’t even need to ask,” says Merrill Lynch’s David Leland, a CFP and the managing director for wealth management, a wealth management adviser and portfolio manager at the Leland Group in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Using modeling tools to keep track of the disparate pieces of a client’s information, coupled with a comprehensive approach will help win over assets, he says.

“Clients are the ones who initiate wanting to bring it in here. We don’t need to ask; they figure that out,” Leland says.

“They realize how much we’re doing for them and how important the records are, and all of a sudden, we’re not initiating it,” he said. “They’re asking how they can bring those other assets here.”

Leland estimates that most of his clients have 80% to 90% of their assets with his team.

“People want it all in one place, as long as they have confidence that we’re here and we know what we’re doing,” he says.

Of course, there are many reasons why some clients won’t consolidate everything, and advisers say that is fine, too.

“I never try to get rid of those other advisers, ever,” Detanna says.

“If my client says, ‘That’s my college buddy,’ or ‘I love my bank because they do my business account,’ I try to figure out a way where I can fit in the right slot and complement what they have. I’m willing to start the relationship, as long as that client and I and the team can help them in whatever way they want me to,” Detanna says.

“They’re the boss,” she says.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on smart strategies for RIAs.

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