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Guide to Business Development for Financial Advisors


Business development focuses on strategies that are designed to help an organization grow and achieve its goals. For financial advisors, that often means connecting with new clients and increasing annual revenues. There are different growth strategies advisors might employ to realize success in the short and long term.

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Understanding Business Development for Financial Advisors

In a broad sense, business development is about leveraging opportunities to grow. Why is that important for advisors? Simply because firms that aren’t interested in or focused on growth may be more inclined to plateau or stagnate in their progress.

Firms that can stand the test of time are forward-thinking. They’re continually evaluating what could be done to further contribute to growth and which strategies are most likely to generate the best return on investment (ROI).

Some of the most essential elements of business development for financial advisors include:

  • Identifying opportunities for growth
  • Forming and nurturing strategic partnerships
  • Conducting industry research to understand what competitors are doing right or wrong
  • Setting clear and specific growth goals
  • Brainstorming strategies for achieving your firm’s goals
  • Formulating a plan to increase revenue

Business development spans every aspect of your firm, including the back, middle and front office. Unless you’re working completely solo as an independent advisor, developing your business and realizing your overall vision is a team effort.

Business Development Strategies for Advisors

A financial advisor and her colleagues making a plan on a whiteboard for their advisory firm.

Expanding your advisory business is often a daunting task and one of the biggest challenges is determining where to direct your time and effort. These business development strategies are designed to help advisors produce results that fuel growth.

1. Focus on Client Retention

Gaining new clients is central to your business development plans but it’s important to consider the clients you already have.

It may be easier to retain an existing client than it is to find a new one. You’re also in a better position to bridge generational gaps if your client has children who may someday need financial advice. And client referrals can be invaluable to growing your book of business.

Some of the most effective ways to increase retention rates include:

  • Consistently exceeding client expectations
  • Communicating promptly
  • Tailoring your services to your client’s needs

Hosting client appreciation events is a chance to connect with clients in an informal setting and show them that you value their business. You could also launch a referral program to encourage clients to tell their friends and family members about your firm.

Technology can assist in providing an exemplary client experience that encourages retention. Offering clients access to an online account dashboard, for instance, or giving them the option to meet virtually rather than in person could win you loyalty points.

2. Try Collaborative Marketing

Networking and collaboration can increase your firm’s visibility while allowing you to demonstrate your credibility and expertise. There are a variety of ways to collaborate as a financial advisor, including:

  • Being a guest on a financial podcast
  • Contributing your knowledge to financial publications as an expert source
  • Producing a joint case study with another advisor
  • Leading a workshop or seminar in partnership with another advisory firm

Collaborating affords opportunities to connect with an audience segment that your existing marketing may not reach.

For instance, say that your typical client is in their mid-40s but you’re hoping to expand your services to target the youngest millennials, who are in their late 20s/early 30s. You might reach out to a financial YouTuber or podcaster who caters to the millennial crowd to explore the possibility of working together.

Keep in mind that if you’re doing any type of promotion that involves you giving compensation to someone else to advertise your firm, you’ll need to ensure you’re not violating any marketing compliance rules.

3. Partner With Other Businesses

Partnerships can be instrumental to business development for financial advisors, as who you know can make a substantial difference in outcomes. Working with a partner can help you make contact with prospective clients and build trust with them from day one.

For instance, say that your ideal client base includes physicians who are working on paying off medical school debt while building wealth. You might reach out to a local hospital to offer a free seminar or workshop series that tackles one or both of those topics, exclusively for their staff members.

You get a chance to highlight your expertise to attendees who might otherwise be unaware of your firm or its services. And because the hospital is greenlighting the event they may be more inclined to trust that you’re a reputable advisor.

You’re not necessarily using this type of partnership to make a hard sell. Instead, the goal is to get on your ideal client’s radar and ensure they have your contact information if they’d like to get in touch.

4. Engage in Community Outreach

Participating in outreach opportunities in your local community can help you grow your network while potentially coming into contact with new leads.

Some of the ways you might get active in your community include:

  • Sponsoring a local youth sports league
  • Participating in community charity events
  • Joining in small business events
  • Hosting financial planning seminars or workshops through local organizations
  • Doing pro bono work

Volunteering your time in any capacity, whether it’s offering free financial advice to people in need or assisting with fundraising for a local cause, is an opportunity to make connections with prospective clients while establishing a positive reputation for your firm in the community.

You might come into contact with wealthy donors who may be looking for an advisor to work with, or who can connect you with colleagues or friends who may be seeking professional financial advice. Aside from any financial reward you might gain, volunteer work can be emotionally rewarding as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Build Your Business as a Financial Advisor?

Building a thriving practice as a financial advisor begins with understanding who your ideal clients are, how you serve them and what makes your business different from the competition. Developing a marketing plan that focuses on business development can improve your chances of success as you work to gain new clients.

How to Increase Sales as a Financial Advisor?

There are several ways to increase sales as a financial advisor, starting with generating more referrals from your existing client base. You can also increase sales by expanding your products and services to appeal to your current clients or attract new ones. Social media marketing and email marketing are effective ways to reach a broader audience of people who may benefit from using your services.

How Do I Advertise Myself as a Financial Advisor?

Financial advisors can advertise their businesses online using social media and a professional website. Conducting PR outreach, collaborating with other advisors or financial influencers, investing in digital ads and participating in local community outreach opportunities can help you solidify your brand. You might also consider email marketing, direct mail marketing and local advertising.

Bottom Line

Advisors reviewing business development strategies and systems to gain more clients and increase revenues.

Business development is an ongoing effort as you test different strategies to learn what’s most or least effective for growing your firm. The ideas included here are a good place to start if you’re interested in exploring the possibilities of business development for financial advisors.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • Automating business processes can save time and help you operate more efficiently. If marketing is taking up valuable hours of your day, for example, you might try using an automated platform to promote your business. SmartAsset AMP helps you connect with leads and gives you the tools you need to nurture those relationships. Schedule a demo to learn how you can use it to grow your business.
  • Building sales funnels is another important aspect of marketing and business development. A sales funnel is a sequence of events that’s designed to turn a prospect into a client by making them aware of your business, piquing their interest and guiding them toward the next step, which is reaching out to you. If you have an advisor website and an email list, you’ve already got two basic building blocks for creating an effective sales funnel.

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