How Financial Advisors Can Systemize Their Referral Process

Written by: Samantha Russell

Referrals are one of the best ways for an advisor to grow their business. In fact, referrals from clients, friends, or family account for 53 percent of new clients for advisors—the top source of new clients in 2022, according to a Cerulli report.

According to the Cerulli Report

Referrals are often the cumulative success of your services and marketing. They demonstrate you’ve provided great results to your clients, but they’re often sporadic. For that reason, we recommend systematizing your referral process. In other words, developing passive strategies to increase your chances of receiving a referral.

That means more clients for less work. No need to constantly keep an eye on the process. Once it’s been systemized, it’s automated with check-ins every so often.

How to Systemize the Referral Process

There are many ways to systemize your referral program to automate referrals. We’re going to take it step-by-step to cover the strategies you can use to create more referral opportunities.

Step 1: Examine Your Most Recent Referrals

Like marketing, there are several avenues to successfully acquire referrals, but not all of them will perform equally. So, before attempting to capture every opportunity on our list, examine your most recent referrals. Do they share anything in common? What has provided the most success? Use this information as a benchmark to understand what attracts referrals to your firm and to inform future tactics.

Step 2: Find Your Starting Point

Systemizing your referrals means having as many channels working for you as possible. What that means is figuring out how you want referrals to be spread and by whom. Here are some potential starting points that can help spread the word:

Referral Process Starting Points (7)

Centers of Influence

COIs typically interact with your ideal client, can connect you to new prospects, and introduce your brand within their network. In this context, COIs are professionals involved in their client’s finances. They’re attorneys, CPAs, real estate agents, etc. They’re a fantastic source of referrals.

For this reason, it’s important to build trust with a COI first. Offer to connect casually to reduce pressure – a phone call or video introduction works. In the initial conversation, and the ones following, demonstrate your expertise and what you have to offer, but keep the focus on the clients. If you can make a COI’s clients happy, you can make the COI happy. Your current content marketing resources are an asset here. So, once you know the concerns of your COI’s clients, use your marketing resources to share relevant content with the COI. If you’d like to go further, consider inviting the COI as a guest to a webinar to cross-promote both of your services. The more value you bring to the COI’s clients, the better.

Of course, one of the hardest parts of connecting with a COI is starting the conversation. For that reason, we’re providing these sample emails from our “Do It For Me” marketing to help connect with specific COIs. Feel free to download them here. And, if you’re looking for more ways to connect with COIs, check out our post on marketing to centers of influence.

Online Engagement

Next, we have online engagement. This can be done on anything from blogs to social media. If it’s online, then it’s a great place to spread the word about your advisory. But more than just spreading the word of your services, you’re demonstrating your expertise to potential clients and prospects. Furthermore, fostering a social presence that demonstrates value can improve the chances that someone who needs your services (or who knows someone who needs your services) discovers you.

Local Community

Lastly, we have working with your local community. As a financial advisor, there are several things you can do within your local community to establish yourself as someone worthy of referrals. Participating in or sponsoring local events, supporting a local charity on your website and on your social media, or running your own event are good ways to engage your community. The more you can establish your name and brand, the more likely people will be to refer you. Facebook can be a wonderful platform for engaging and joining local groups. The key is to be on the lookout for opportunities to add value.

Step 3: Maintain Consistency

This step is arguably the most important one. Once you’ve located the referral tactics that work best for you, be sure to maintain consistency. This is the check-in step we discussed above, and it’s all about maintenance and consistent quality. The tactics above may be difficult to start. But once they’re going, they require fuel to continue working. So be sure to maintain communication with COIs, create and share consistent, high-quality content, and engage your community in meaningful ways.

Maintain Work Consistency

Step 4: Keep Improving

It’s not uncommon to see companies get a big boost in referrals following product or service updates/improvements. Much like when a business remodels its storefront, word spreads, and people flock to see what the buzz is all about. If an advisor can continually better their business, people will hear about it. Your referral systems might work great, but always keep an eye out for that additional opportunity to improve or expand your network.

Step 5: Take Your Time

Knowing when to implement ideas and carry out a plan is crucial to success. So, when it comes to systematizing your referral process, it’s important to plant a seed. Referral systemization is a process that takes time and care.

Growing Client Trust for Referrals

Wrapping Things Up

Systemizing your referral process does not need to be a massive undertaking. By leveraging your current marketing efforts in new ways, you can create processes that improve the likelihood of referrals. Examine why your most recent referrals reached out and use this info alongside the tips above to begin building your referral system.

Related: Behavioral Science Techniques To Elevate Your Website