A good starting point for getting wealthy people as clients is to become part of their world. They know that, so they are willing to spend money buying privacy. There are still some places where you can rub shoulders and get conversations started.
What’s buying privacy all about? A financial advisor recently invited me to lunch at his country club. My wife and I don’t belong but have been frequent guests thanks to generous friends. We see community leaders and philanthropists around the room on every visit. I asked the advisor about costs. He explained the monthly minimum spending requirement was the biggest obstacle. You might think “How difficult is it to have a few meals in the dining room every month?” He explained only the cost of the food is counted towards your minimum spending requirement. Alcohol, tax and gratuities don’t count! Now you can see why it gets expensive!
Here are eight places where you can encounter HNW individuals in your local community.
- Family events. You have relatives that live nearby. They have birthdays and anniversaries. Sometimes the out of state folks fly in. When you include the aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, this can be quite a big crowd. Is there a wealthy aunt or uncle among them? If not, how do you know? Make it a point to attend and meet them when they are in town.
- Religious services. Let us assume you attend on a regular basis. Congregations represent a cross section of the community, brought together by the same faith. There is a temptation to limit your involvement to arriving just before services start and leaving the moment they are over, before the parking lot gets chaotic. Start by arriving earlier and walking slower when you leave, talking with the regulars who sit near you. Read the bulletin. See what activities are planned. Attend a few. Meet people.
- College alumni chapter. When you attended school, you knew people in your year and the preceding and following years. When you join your local chapter, you meet a cross section of graduates. This includes people who might have graduated 25 or 50 years ago! They might have reached the top of their profession or built a successful company. They are involved in the local chapter because the school means something important to them. You share that bond. It’s a starting point.
- Your neighbors. Do you know your neighbors? It’s possible you know their names and wave to them as you drive away. When we moved into our house, we discovered one neighbor was a retired partner from a Big 4 accounting firm, another was a famous musician, the neighbor to the right a composer and the neighbor living diagonally, a research chemist with a major drug company. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ or holiday party. Use the rationale we should know each other better since we are neighbors.
- Local historical society. This one is often under the radar. Their events are often social, meaning lots of wine and cheese or cocktail parties. The old money families tend to belong along with local business owners, especially if they are in the real estate, development or home contracting business. You all share a love and appreciation for the local area.
- Homeowners’ association. These come in many forms. If you live in a development, there might be a group that approves adding an addition to your home or building a deck. If you live in a city, it might be a block association of homeowners who address issues like safety and keeping the area clean. The common connection is local property ownership.
- Medical charities. This is one of my favorites. It’s not a group you see advertising on TV. It’s not the big hospital putting donor names on buildings. It’s often a local arm of a specialty hospital that is lower key. Ours is the cancer center. The local chapter raises money through gold outings, galas and art shows. It’s a noble cause. You often find people with deep pockets alongside you.
- Animal charities. Everyone likes animals. Again, you do not see these folks advertising on TV. You find their website (the local SPCA is a good example) and learn about events. They often have a newsletter sent to donors. It talks about the number of adoptions done recently and special needs pets needing a loving home. These groups often draw in wealthy donors.
These organizations all provide opportunities to meet the people you want to meet. Your encounters will be low key and social. You will gradually develop friendships. The people you meet often turn out to be ones you would not have been able to reach through conventional business channels.