Adviser's Consultant: Be creative when hunting for new clients

Don't be too proud to try out different approaches to uncover what works

May 16, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

By Liz Skinner

Scott Hanson remembers handing out fliers during the early days of the advisory firm he co-founded 23 years ago.

Sacramento, Calif.-based Hanson McClain began growing by targeting a specific big employer in the area that was downsizing. It became an expert about the benefits the company offered their 100,000 employees and set out to talk with everyone who was within five years of retirement.

“I'd show up at the company with fliers and pass them out, and put them up in break rooms and restrooms,” he said. “I have no pride when it comes to getting the name out there.”

This resourceful approach brought the firm hundreds of clients and is just one of a dozen business development paths the advisory firm has pursued to attract about $2 billion in client assets.

Another big business driver for the firm has been a radio program, “Hanson McClain Money Matters,” that Mr. Hanson and co-founder Pat McClain have hosted for 20 years. They take caller questions on financial topics, such as Social Security or inherited assets.

(More: Advisers tap coaches to improve business development skills)

Radio was successful for the firm because listeners became familiar with the advisers over the hour-long program, and they felt they could trust them. The firm also advertises during “drive time” when people think about things that could lead to wanting an adviser's help, Mr. Hanson said.

But the importance of radio is slipping under pressure from seemingly unlimited content delivered through the internet. Mr. Hanson knows the firm will need a new business development engine so he's dedicating the resources to uncover it.

Of the firm's 77 employees, Mr. Hanson estimates at least 15 are focused on finding “tomorrow's business.”

Among its initiatives, the firm is beginning to create short podcasts and videos to be delivered through its website and digital advertising.

“It's an exciting time and kind of scary because it's changing so fast,” Mr. Hanson said. “Apps aren't even hot any more; now it's all about mobile viewing.”

(More: What it means to move from a practice to a business)

Hanson McClain also recently hired professionals to help “really figure out our brand,” Mr. Hanson said. “The firm will help visualize who we are and put it into words.”

(More: 3 ways for advisers to stand out in a crowd)

Tip sheet:

-- Look for a group with unique financial needs and specialize in helping them with their situation.

-- Evaluate current relationships for prospecting ideas. In the early days, Hanson McClain often was invited by a client to do an educational workshop for coworkers in similar situations.

-- Try new approaches and give them some time, but don't be too stubborn to pull the plug when it doesn't seem like they're heading in the right direction.

-- Seek expertise. Hanson McClain tried a digital strategy without professional help and it failed. Now it's hired specialists.

-- Make sure your website is top notch. Before hiring any advisory firm, prospects are going to do their research.

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