Most financial professionals are not as referable as they think they are or as they need to be to garner a lot of great referrals.  The more referable you are, three things happen:

  1. More positive word of mouth
  2. More referrals without asking
  3. Receptive clients when you do ask

Here is a little checklist of sorts to make sure you’re doing all you can do:
1. Client Goals

Not only should you know your client’s financial goals, but I think it helps to know all – or most – of their life’s goals. Since money intersects every aspect of one’s life, understanding their many goals and dreams can help you become a better financial advisor for them.  I also think it’s a good idea to check in with them about their goals – financial and otherwise – from time to time. It shows that you care about them and may find some adjustments that need to be made in their plan

For instance, when I was doing this with my accountant (not my main financial advisor, but a key member of the team) and he found out I was hoping to sell my business someday, he immediately had me switch my corporation from a C Corp. to a subchapter S – for tax purposes.  Had he not known of this goal, I might have faced a double taxation situation at the sale.

2. Meeting Agendas

When planning your agenda for your client meeting, get their agenda items prior to the meeting. First, this will make sure you have time to review what they perceive as most pressing. Second, if they come with one or more items you didn’t expect, it could blow out your agenda. Get the agenda set, as best you can, before the meeting.

3. Taking Notes

Take notes during your meetings, but be careful it’s not a distraction. I’ve always thought that taking notes while someone was speaking to me was a sign to them that I’m listening. However, taking notes often reduces eye contact and can even act as a distraction. So what’s the alternative? One successful financial advisor, Sean O’Leary, likes to listen to his clients first, and then demonstrate he’s heard them by writing some notes and speaking out what he’s writing at the same time. This way the can correct him if he heard something wrong or they weren’t clear.

4. Summary Letters or Emails

Send summary letters or emails. I’m working with a Leadership Accountability Coach – Alan Dobzinski. He’s helping me become a better leader for my staff. One on his habits is to send me a summary email within 48 hours of our meeting. This does several things: shows me he’s listening; allows for mistakes to be caught before it’s too late; and shows attention to detail on my behalf. All of this leads to more trust. More trust, of course, leads to client loyalty and referrals.

Bonus Tip

Get written permission from your ‘A’ clients to cc their CPA or other trusted advisors. This will help build your referability with those other professionals.

Of course, there’s a lot more to client loyalty than just these 4 items.  I’ll continue to bring you ideas on this important topic in future referral tips.

Bill Cates is the author of Get More Referrals Now!, Don’t Keep Me a Secret! and his brand new book, Beyond Referrals, has just been released by McGraw-Hill. To receive Bill’s complimentary newsletter and to learn more about how he might help you acquire more and better clients through referrals, go to


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