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In their own words: Five top advisors' secrets for creating stronger alliances to gain more referrals

From office space to joint events to good old-fashioned favors, how to form crucial bonds

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 – 4:53 AM by Mike Byrnes, Guest Columnist
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Mike Byrnes: The key to many negotiating success stories is when two parties look beyond their own needs.

As I have mentioned before, increasing strategic alliance referrals is often the place where advisors have the most room to improve their new business flows. If they are already successful, generally they are great at client referrals, but sometimes just ok at getting leads from strategic alliances.

In a previous article“In their own words: How 10 top advisors formed creative alliances to drive big asset growth, I addressed where advisors need to start:

Step 1: Review current relationships
Step 2: Identify creative sources around target markets

This article focuses on Step 3: Detailing how advisors can strengthen existing alliances.

Here are a handful of examples of advisors who built more out of relationships they already had.

Get involved with groups

“I do a lot of work with divorce attorneys and have been successful at strengthening those relations by participating in their associations. For example, I support and attend the Virginia Women’s Attorney Association.

Mingling with my alliances at these events strengthens my relationship by demonstrating I am committed to them and their industry. Furthermore, getting to know them on a personal level strengthens our relationship, develops trust, and demonstrates that I am an advocate for them and their clients.”

Brenda Blisk finds success hosting a joint event with a CPA.
Brenda Blisk finds success hosting a
joint event with a CPA.

Brenda Blisk, svp and wealth manager, Spire Wealth Management, LLC, McLean, Va.

Co-host events

“I work closely with a CPA and have developed a great relationship over the years. We recently hosted a joint event in which we brought in a Social Security speaker, who covered calculations used to arrive at benefits and strategies for various situations. We invited both sets of clients.

The event was a smashing hit, so much so that we need to have another similar event, inviting the clients that got wait listed the first time. Because of its popularity, we are going to open up the event to be a bring-a-friend format to help both of our businesses grow.”

Donna Crocker, Registered Investment Advisor, Good Harbor Advisors Inc., Gloucester, Mass.

Coordinate extended team meetings for clients

“We are successful with our alliances for one main reason – we provide a high level of service to our mutual clients. If they trust that we will do a great job, they are much more apt to send more referrals.

One way to demonstrate our expertise is to coordinate a client’s entire life. A good example of this is when a client was recently buying a beach house. We got the accountant and attorneys on one conference call, where we served as the family office and advisor. The client might not have fully understood the in-depth discussion that took place, but they were very pleased we were quarterbacking the conversation on their behalf. Plus, the other participants were also happy with the call, as it was an efficient use of their time.

Donna Crocker: They were very pleased we were quarterbacking the conversation on their behalf.
Donna Crocker: They were very pleased
we were quarterbacking the conversation on
their behalf.

These types of interactions make good impressions, which end up resulting in more referrals.”

Paul E. Tramontano, co-chief executive officer, Constellation Wealth Advisors, LLC, New York, NY

Share knowledge and client information (with permission)

“I have been in the industry for 20 years and have seen advisors that have a lot of centers of influence, but I believe it is too hard to have quality relationships with multiple alliances. In my case, I have a quality CPA relationship that has been great for my business.

When we talk, I see how I can help him, asking about the obstacles he is facing. A quick example of this is that I recently was able to help provide him with complicated Roth conversion information for his client’s issue.

A good way to get your foot in the door is to help accountants with things they do not like to do. As CPAs often get asked by their clients to review their investment portfolios, it is a great opportunity to volunteer to take this responsibility off their desks. At first ask for statements where the client’s contact information and account numbers are whited out. Then present your advice to the CPA. As trust is built, the CPA will start to remove himself from the middle, sending the new clients directly to you.

Paul Tramontano: Help accountants with things they do not like to do.
Paul Tramontano: Help accountants with things
they do not like to do.

Another benefit I provide CPAs is giving my clients Black Diamond software that consolidates their accounts. Then if a client grants access to the CPA, he can go on and see the tax situation for multiple accounts.

I also coach my alliance to suggest to his clients that they put their portfolios through a ‘stress test’ to see what would happen if we have another very negative market. This has led to a lot of new client relationships for me.

Besides the two of us meeting with new clients, when he first introduces me, I try to meet with him once a month, and sometimes on a weekly basis, as our offices are convenient to each other.

A nice benefit of not working with multiple accountants is that over the years we have developed a personal friendship outside of our professional relationship. That type of loyal bond is a key to a successful strategic alliance.”

Frank T. Shull, IV, Partner, Lara, Shull & May, LLC, Falls Church, Va.

Frank Shull: This ‘incubator’ idea now includes a divorce attorney, real estate attorney, estate planning attorney and an accountant.
Frank Shull: This ‘incubator’ idea now
includes a divorce attorney, real estate
attorney, estate planning attorney and an
accountant.

Share resources (e.g. office space)

“I had worked with a few different types of alliances and the relationships were strong. I knew their businesses, but at the same time I knew when to hand off a client. As I began to work with them, I came up with a strategy for us to share office space to make the relationships even stronger.

I arranged with a landlord of a previous manufacturing building to bring in other professionals that could help my business. This ‘incubator’ idea now includes a divorce attorney, real estate attorney, estate planning attorney and an accountant. It helps my clients get the right people to solve their problems, sometimes before they even know they have a problem. It has also brought me business that I would not normally have received.”

Eva Valentine, CEO and president, Aegis Financial Strategies Inc., Haverhill, Mass.

Eva Valentine: Referrals can flow both ways not just now, but for years to come
Eva Valentine: Referrals can flow both
ways not just now, but for
years to come

Grow in unison

The key to many negotiating success stories is when two parties look beyond their own needs. The same is true for strategic alliances. Advisors that understand the principles of the best practices shared above will look past just the tactics and discover other creative ways to build rapport. Those that can do this will find that their slice of the pie is bigger, and the same will be true for their partners. Even better, the best benefit of strong alliances is that the referrals can flow both ways not just now, but for years to come.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to help advisors become even more successful. His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas. If you missed the previous article on strategic alliances and centers of influence, read it by clicking here… In their own words: How 10 top advisors formed creative alliances to drive big asset growth. Read more at www.byrnesconsulting.com.



Mike Byrnes

Mike Byrnes

November 16, 2010 — 6:35 AM

What are you doing to cultivate stronger strategic alliances?
Please share what has worked for you!

Mike Byrnes, President
Byrnes Consulting, LLC
http://byrnesconsulting.com/
http://twitter.com/ByrnesConsultin

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