Establishing a COI Network in the Finance Industry

Congratulations you finally received a referral from your COI center of influence network. You have given out tons of referrals to your network and rarely got anything back and finally, you get introduced to a non-ideal client. You meet with the prospect and find out that they are just shopping around and are a complete waste of time. Is this when you give up on building your network of professionals?

Change your mindset

If you want to be successful in building a world-class network of professionals then you have to start thinking differently. Instead of thinking about getting referrals, approach this as a strategic partner that will help you deliver the best possible experience for your clients. The problem is financial advisors never experience it. What I mean by that is financial advisors never do coordinated meetings with their clients and potential centers of influence together. Family offices deliver coordinated advice and are always in control of all aspects of the family advice. You need to think about taking the same approach and same mindset so that you understand the client experience from the legal, tax, lending, real estate, and insurance. Not just financial advice. Once you start to have coordinated meetings with your network of professionals and clients, you elevate your status in the eyes of your COIs as well as the clients. The problem is that most financial advisors don't have time to do this so they never do. Start with your top 10 clients. Start to coordinate meetings with their professionals and yourself. Your network professionals will see you in action in a meeting then we'll realize your value and experience it. instead of telling them about your value promise demonstrate it with clients. I challenge you to do 5 coordinated meetings this year! 

How do you find the best people for your network? 

While there are numerous articles written on this subject There are a couple of things missing. First, how do you find the best people for your network? The process I teach financial advisors is to give and get the names of COIs on a regular basis. Here is a simple summary. First, ask people do they know about our network of professionals? Most people will say no, and tell them that you will work with their professionals or you will coordinate with your own network of professionals to give the best-coordinated advice possible, sound fair? Then ask who they are currently working with for tax, legal, mortgage, or lending, real estate, and commercial services including insurance lending and real estate, banking, general insurance, and other professionals. Ask them if they're happy with their current professional and would they refer them. For each meeting, you should get between three and six names of professionals. If you do not have a network of 20 or more professionals you're missing a huge opportunity. If you want to meet more professionals then consider taking their industry courses. I took a tax course with my accountant to meet other tax professionals. I took a trust course to meet legal professionals. I took a real estate marketing workshop to meet commercial real estate professionals.

The two critical aspects of building a COI network

First, it is a relationship business and as always you're building a strong business and personal relationship with your COI network. Do you hang out with these people or do any activities such as golf or sporting events with your network of professionals? Besides lunch have you gone out to their house or your house and had a family BBQ to get to know them and their families? How deep is the relationship with your network of professionals? Second, is coordinated meetings. Unfortunately only half of your COI network will even want to do a coordinated meeting with you and one of your clients. You are looking for financial coordinators, and if they cannot be financial coordinators, then eliminate them from your network immediately. Some of your COI think they are in 100% control of the client and all their decisions. This makes sense at first, but if they do become a client you realize how dis- coordinated the advice actually is. This does not make an ideal client and an ideal COI. The best client and COI network are running a mini family office. Be the quarterback or the conductor of the Symphony. You have a strong internal team to help your best clients and a strong external team or COI network to help your best clients. One of your strengths is your ability to deliver comprehensive and coordinated advice. I'll bet your best clients came as a result of coordinated advice, didn't they? The lone wolf syndrome does not work for wealthy clients. You can't just talk about your team. Your best clients and prospects have to experience it.

What are my next steps?

Elite financial advisors have a process in place to discuss their network of professionals with top clients and prospects. Build Your network. Elite financial advisors set up coordinated meetings with their best clients and their network. Delivering truly coordinated advice is extremely valuable, become more valuable. Elite financial advisors focus on relationships with their COI network. Build better relationships.

Elite financial advisors deliver comprehensive and coordinated advice to their ideal clients and prospects. Have fewer non-ideal clients.

Related: Optimizing Productivity: Time Management Tips for Financial Advisors