Referrals or favorable introductions, which are better for financial advisors?

After 29 years in the financial industry in various roles including an advisor, National Director of Practice Management and coach, I truly believe that favorable introductions are easier for financial advisor clients than referrals. Let me explain. When I was growing my financial advisory practice, I was looking for more ideal clients, wealthy individuals who needed complex planning and advice to help them reach all of their goals. The financial industry and all top advisors said grow your business by referrals only. But, I did not buy it, there must be more to it than sitting at your desk waiting for people to call you because they told a friend how wonderful you are. I was also taught many years ago to position referrals at every client meeting, usually at the end of the meeting. It seemed so easy, just ask for a few names and away they went. Yet, at the end of the meeting, compliance, and paperwork took control of the meeting, and if I did not do the paperwork, referrals were useless. So with this wonderful sage advice, I decided to find another way to acquire more ideal clients.


Favorable introductions
What is the difference between a favorable introduction and a referral? I truly believe that your best clients are 10 times more comfortable introducing you to someone than giving you a referral or a specific name to call. So how do you get introduced to people by your clients? Simple, go to your client events, not your events. So how do you do that? Let me share a story with you. One of my clients Bob was a retired pilot. In every meeting with clients, I used an agenda. On the agenda was the word ”events”. It was positioned at the beginning or middle of the meeting, NOT the end of a meeting when the time is running short and paperwork is longer than expected. In the meeting, when it came to the word events, I would always ask one KEY question. “Bob, if I were to meet a group of retired pilots, where would I go to meet them, how would I meet and connect with them? Are there any events you are involved in with retired pilots”. Bob replied, “why yes, there is a group of retired pilots at the small airport where I keep my plane, why don’t we meet next week and I will introduce you to some of them.” Greg knew that Bob was successful, so being favorably introduced as his financial advisor was all Greg needed to have confidence in talking to me. And as simple as asking one question, I discovered that asking for favorable introductions is easier than asking for referrals. The next week at the hangar, Bob introduced me by saying” Hey Greg, I want you to meet a friend of mine who happens to be my financial advisor, Grant”. Greg was working on his airplane and jokingly said” nice to meet you, Grant, you must be a great advisor since Bob has a better plane than mine. Let’s grab a coffee sometime. “. That is all it took. There was no awkwardness in meeting people and get favorably introduced, not making up an elevator pitch of who you are and what you do. Your clients will be glad to introduce you to anyone, given the opportunity.

Two simple steps
Make that opportunity happen in two simple steps. First, add the word “events” into the top portion of your agenda. Second, ask the question” If I were to meet a group of successful people like you ( categorize the group) how would I meet them? Another question if people are having difficulty recognizing events in their group is to go to charitable and community events by asking this question. “ Is there anything near and dear to your heart you are involved in such as charities or community events that you may need help with?

Success stories
I can list countless stories of advisors I coach that have added two simple steps to their process, and went to amazing events with their best clients, and met a group of ideal clients they were waiting for calls from. Referrals are great, but favorable introductions are easier and more comfortable with your ideal clients. If you went to 10 client events this year and was favorably introduced by an influential or ideal client, do you think you will be introduced to your next ideal clients? Go for it and good luck.

I would love to share your successful introduction stories in an upcoming blog post. If you have a story to share, send me an email to Grant Hicks, CI at