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5 Referral Sources for Financial Advisors


Referrals can be invaluable to your advisory business when you’re working on building a solid client base. Getting those referrals can be challenging, however, if you’re not tapping into the various resources that are available to you. Some of the best referral sources for financial advisors may be your existing clients, but there are other avenues that are also worth exploring.

SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform offers financial advisors services like client lead generation, automated marketing and more. Learn about SmartAsset AMP today.

Why Referrals Matter for Financial Advisors

A typical financial advisor’s daily schedule may involve a significant amount of time spent prospecting and working on outreach efforts to attract new clients. While that can pay dividends back to you in the long run, the investment of time that’s often required could leave you with little room to manage other important tasks in your business.

Referrals can bring clients to you, without having to tie up hours of each day reaching out to prospects. When someone is referred to you, they may have already heard positive or encouraging things about your business. You then have an opportunity to wow them with a great first impression and turn them from a referral into a client. Will all referrals turn into long-term clients? No, but that doesn’t undermine their value for your business.

5 Referral Sources for Financial Advisors

Female financial advisor looking at referrals

Ready to start getting more clients? Here are five referral sources for financial advisors to potentially expand their client base:

1. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform)

Getting referrals from an online lead generation program can save time, as it can allow you to connect with prospects that fit your ideal client profile. SmartAsset AMP, for instance, supplies you with online leads that fit your target client profile. Once investor leads are ready to move forward, you can shift your focus to closing their business. SmartAsset AMP also provides sales campaigns, CRM integrations and more.

2. Current Clients

Getting referrals from existing clients is an obvious choice, as there’s an existing relationship in place. Assuming that your clients are satisfied with the level of services they’re receiving and the quality of the advice offered, they may be happy to refer friends, family members or coworkers who may need an advisor to you.

The key is building trust and demonstrating your value first, then positioning your ask so that clients don’t feel pressured to offer referrals. It should be clear what you’re asking but at the same time, your request shouldn’t sound like a sales pitch.

You can also use referrals to bridge gaps across generations. For instance, if you’re working with a married couple that’s approaching retirement, you might let them know that you’re available to talk to their children or grandchildren about their financial planning needs. That’s something that might not have even occurred to them, which could lead to another referral for you.  

3. Attorneys

Attorneys can be a helpful source of referrals for financial advisors because while the services they offer might overlap, they’re not identical. For example, say that your primary area of focus is estate planning. It may be natural to connect with an estate planning attorney who could refer clients to you who need financial advice.

Getting referrals from an attorney may be easier said than done, however, as it may take some time to build up trust. It may be easier to gain referrals from an attorney you already know or who’s connected to you through someone else in your network, versus a complete stranger.

4. CPAs and Other Financial Professionals

Similar to attorneys, relationships with certified public accountants (CPAs) can be useful in driving referrals to your advisory business. Their clients are already primed to get professional help with their finances from an accountant, so working with an advisor may not be too far of a leap.

A CPA may also be willing to connect you with other people in their circle who could be additional sources of referrals. For instance, their network might include bankers, mortgage professionals or insurance agents, all of whom may be willing to refer clients to you.

5. Other Advisors

It may seem counterintuitive to ask other financial advisors for referrals, but it can be an effective strategy if done properly. Here are a few examples of when an advisor might refer clients to another advisor.

  • A prospective client needs help with an area of financial planning that the advisor doesn’t offer, so they refer them to another professional who specializes in that niche.
  • The advisor’s business has grown more rapidly than they anticipated, so instead of simply turning the prospect away they refer them to an advisor they know who’s actively looking for more clients.
  • A health issue prompts an advisor to switch from full-time to part-time hours. They decide to cull their client list and refer some of their existing clients out to another trusted advisor.

Again, it’s all about building relationships with people you trust and who in turn, trust you. Nurturing your professional network can be a great way to open the door for those kinds of referral opportunities.

Tips for Converting Referrals

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to find more referrals online. However, if you’re not ready for those referrals when you receive them then it might not matter much. It’s important that you have a process for bringing on new clients and making sure they are receiving what they need so that you can convert those referral leads into clients. Here are a few tips to keep in mind that could help you take your conversion of these referrals to the next level.

  • Keep Your Current Clients Happy: Some potential clients will want to research your firm or talk to someone you’ve worked with before. If you aren’t doing a good job at keeping your current clients happy then it could cost you new clients as you look to grow.
  • Keep Growing Professional Relationships: Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal of looking for new clients. The more professionals you’re able to partner with, the better your chances of landing new referrals. If potential clients have been referred to you more than once then it could be a slam dunk in terms of converting them.
  • Provide Value to Partners: One way to ensure strong referrals when you receive one is to build strong relationships. If you take your time to do things for your professional partners then the chances are that when they refer someone it will be a strong referral that increases the likelihood of you being able to close the deal.
  • Create Partnerships That Make Sense: You want to make sure you’re cultivating potential referral sources that make sense to you. For example, if you focus on ESG investing for your clients then you’ll want to cultivate relationships with potential referral partners who are working with clients that find ESG important.

Finding new clients can be time-consuming. If you’re unable to commit to a robust referral strategy, consider finding online lead generation that works for you. Add new clients and AUM at your desired pace with SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform. Sign up for a free demo today.

Bottom Line

Financial advisors asking for referrals.

If getting more referrals is one of your financial advisor goals, it helps to know how to find reliable sources. Reviewing your client list first, then casting the net wider to consider other professionals in your network can be a great starting point. And if you don’t have much time to commit, you can always use an online lead-generation tool to find clients for you.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is a holistic marketing service financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Social media marketing can be a powerful tool for defining your brand and establishing your credibility as an advisor. If you’re not using social media to market your business, it’s important to consider where it might fit into your firm’s larger digital marketing plan.

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