Practice Management

Create value with a strategic alliance

Developing a team of experts to provide comprehensive financial planning can lead to referrals

Mar 23, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Bob Davies

Would you like to have a steady source of referral business without ever asking for a referral? Then you need to build a strategic alliance.

Before I get into the “how-tos,” let me review the philosophy. In order to build and lead an alliance, you need to have a full-service mindset, which is different than a transactional or product-driven mentality. I'm not judging, just pointing out that a strategic alliance led by an adviser must be from a full-service orientation.

Here's the mindset you must have: “I am a financial adviser and I want to be a one-stop shop for the protection and prosperity of your (the client's) family. I am committed to serving your needs, not my own. It is out of this commitment that I have developed and nurtured a team of experts. Together, as one, we can provide solutions for all of your financial needs.”

Here's how to build an alliance.

Go through your book and note the other advisers your clients are currently using. Look for attorneys, accountants, stockbrokers, insurance agents, etc.

Make an additional list of experts you know who serve the high-net-worth client. Be creative here. The most traditional are attorneys: estate planning, asset protection, divorce, etc. The next-most-common are accountants. In fact, this was how strategic alliances were originally formed: the financial adviser, the attorney and the accountant.

But who else serves the high-net-worth family? How about these categories:

• Pre-need funeral directors.

• Doggy day care owners.

• Property and casualty agents (find one who has a large database and doesn't want to sell financial products or services).

• Specialty providers of long-term-care insurance, etc.

• Commercial and residential realtors.

• Commercial and residential lenders.

• Website developers.

• Charter aircraft organizations.

Use your imagination. This is about relationships. Once you've made your list, move on to the next step.

Make contact to determine those professionals' interest in forming an alliance. Develop a script about the philosophy of the strategic alliance. Do some research on the concept of the “blind gurus” — a story about several gurus who each had to describe a different part of what turned out to be an elephant. They knew their perspective, but not the bigger picture.

Have a group meeting with those experts who have expressed an interest in an alliance. Hold the meeting either in person or via teleconference and explain the concept.

CRYSTALLIZE CONCEPT

What is the concept? Explain that an alliance is a group of non-compete experts who solve problems for the high-net-worth family. You all come together as one entity and host educational events, usually once per quarter. Each member of the alliance markets the event to their own database. Their databases are not shared; therefore, no confidentialities are breached.

Once someone attends an alliance event, they become part of the “alliance database.” You can also market the event to the public.

Each member of the alliance will have the opportunity to present an educational topic at the events. This is the fastest way to be recognized as an expert, while building relationships with attendees at each event.

I also recommend the development of a strategic-alliance product grid. Use this as a tool when you meet with your clients for their review. The product grid includes all your financial products and those of your alliance members. It will generate the conversation that will allow you to bring in members of your alliance on a referral basis.

Finally, the alliance should be a group of people who are committed to personal growth. I recommend having monthly alliance meetings in addition to quarterly events. Monthly meetings should be agenda-driven, and part of that agenda should be a behavioral concept that helps alliance members and their businesses grow. If your alliance members see this growth as a result of being involved with your alliance, they will stay and be engaged.

Bob Davies is the founder of High Performance Training Inc.

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