Most advisers are constantly on the lookout for new clients, but what is the best way to find them?

Customer referrals, financial and non-financial events for clients and their friends, a visible media presence and involvement in community affairs are the best bets, experienced practitioners say.

But they aren’t so high on traditional advertising.

“We haven’t found it to be effective,” says Taylor Gang, a CFP and principal and wealth manager at Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial Wealth Management in Coral Gables, Florida.

“You can’t answer potential customers’ questions from a billboard,” he says. “The deeper the connection you can make in a conversation, the more the impact.”

Advertising also tends to be expensive, says Jack Riashi, a CFP and adviser at Bloom Asset Management in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

As for referrals from existing customers, “they’re very effective,” Gang says. “They’re the ultimate compliment and reward for doing an outstanding job for our clients.”

About 45% of his firm’s new clients last year came via that route.

In addition to referrals from its own customers, Bloom Asset Management has relationships with accountants, insurance professionals and mortgage professionals and accountants to gain new clients.

“We get some clients from them, but it’s not material,” Riashi says. “We tried formal relationships that included fee sharing a few years back, but that didn’t work out.”

Both Evensky & Katz and Bloom benefit from media appearances.

“Our owner, Rick Bloom, had a radio show for 15 to 16 years, and that’s a great advertisement,” Riashi says. “Even though the show has been off the air for eight years, we still get people who mention that.”

Now Rick Bloom writes a column in the Observer and Eccentric newspaper, which publishes across the state of Michigan.

Bloom Asset Management presents financial seminars at libraries and other places to gain customers.

But Evensky & Katz has a slightly different approach.

“Rather than financial topics, we try to bring people together for activities they enjoy,” Gang says.

That includes wine tasting seminars in the firm’s office and client movie nights at a local theater, where a firm partner serves on the board.

When it comes to community involvement, “we emphasize philanthropy, because we believe it’s the right thing to do, and we love doing it,” Gang says.

“It’s a wonderful way to make an impact,” he says. “Generating business from community activity shouldn’t be the goal, but it’s often a by-product of cooperating with other philanthropic people.”

This story is part of a 30-30 series on strategies to boost your practice.

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Dan Weil

Dan Weil’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Institutional Investor and Tennis magazine.