Successful financial advisors who have managed millions in client assets often also share one story – the client who got away.

Four successful, multi-million dollar female financial advisors shared their stories of elusive clients at the Women Advisors Forum in Boston on Monday. Here are some of the lessons they said that those experiences taught them:

It’s About the Relationship

Shelly Church, senior vice president of investments at Raymond James & Associates remembers the prospective client well. He had $150 million in assets, which would have been her largest client to date when the opportunity to work with him came along. But an in-person meeting proved it was not a match.

“All he wanted to talk about was performance, performance, performance,” Church said. “He wouldn’t talk about anything other than that, [including] estate planning, investment planning.”

At the time, the opportunity lost really stung because it was such a large client, Church remembered, but she did get over it in two years’ time. The experience, she said, provided an invaluable lesson.

“It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the relationship for me,” Church said.

Be Persistent

Rosemarie Moeller, a financial planner at Eisner Amper Wealth Management Corporate Benefits, said she found the perfect client in a woman who divorced her executive husband and received a large settlement. The woman did not even know how to write a check, and the thorough service that client would need is exactly what Moeller said her practice is prepared to provide.

But after opening new accounts for that prospective client, she decided to transfer all of her assets to another financial advisor she was also working with. Moeller said she still calls the woman regularly to check to see if she has updated her estate plan and powers of attorney, exactly the services her practice can provide.

“It’s not about me winning. It’s about she’s not in the right place, and I know that,” Moeller said. “The story’s not over yet.”

Don’t Count Commissions Ahead of Time

Nannette Nocon, a private wealth advisor at Ameriprise Financial admits that she is all about numbers. She used to count calories as a dietitian, and now counts money as a financial advisor. Seeing about 40 clients per week has helped her reach top advisor status at her firm.

But losing one client resulted in a valuable lesson, Nocon said. At the suggestion of someone else, Nocon counted up the commissions working that client would have brought her.

“It would have been a great sale, but it must have been written all over my face, because they never came back after that,” Nocon said. “That’s the last time I figure out how much money I’m going to make.”

Keep It Within Your Team

For Dr. Lisette Cooper, founder and CEO of Athena Capital Advisors, talks to bring a private equity partner and his family on as clients came to a screeching halt in their very last meeting to finalize their relationship.

The private equity investor needed someone to help him diversify his investments, which were mostly in his firm and in an art collection. But during talks with Cooper’s practice, the family also lost their accountant, and wanted to know if she could provide bill pay services.

Cooper turned to an outside accounting firm that she had a good relationship with, and brought someone from that firm to that last meeting.

“It wasn’t somebody who was actually on my staff, and the wife did not like this person at all,” Cooper said. “And that was the last I ever heard from them.”

Now that private equity partner is probably worth about $2 billion, Cooper estimated.

“Big lesson learned: You are not to bring anybody into the situation that you don’t have absolute confidence in that is not part of your team until after you close the sale,” Cooper said.

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