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A Wealth Management Advisor's Guide to Centers of Influence

As a financial advisor, you understand the importance of referrals to building your business. But relying solely on client referrals limits that growth to the number of clients you currently have. Enter: centers of influence for financial advisors.

What Is a Center of Influence?

Centers of influence for financial advisors are well-connected professionals uniquely positioned to refer business to you regularly. A strong referral partnership with a center of influence allows both of you to expand your networks, grow business, deepen existing client relationships and operate in a symbiotic fashion that keeps gaining momentum.

In short, a center of influence is a more sustainable method of growing financial advisor referrals. 

Who Are Centers of Influence for Financial Advisors?

Think of your ideal client profile. Now consider those professionals in the community who are interacting with your ideal client on a regular basis.

Types of centers of influence for financial advisors can include:

  • Accountants. They often have a large roster of clients, and because clients share sensitive information with them, accountants enjoy strong, trusting relationships. This brings a certain heft to a financial advisor referral.  
  • Real estate agents. Similar to accountants, a real estate agent’s client cache is broad, and it tends to be diverse across income levels, backgrounds and ages. Real estate agents are great networkers, too, so even if they don’t have existing clients to refer, they’ll likely come across prospects in the near future.
  • Bankers. Small-business bankers, banking center managers, even front-of-line tellers all engage with the public on a daily basis. Bankers build rapport with clients quickly and are adept at identifying opportunities. 
  • Philanthropists. These centers of influence are heavily involved in the community and well connected to local movers and shakers. They make for a great source of referrals for financial advisors for one simple reason: They know everyone.   
  • Life coaches and personal trainers. This group works one on one with their clients. This means that not only do clients deeply trust them, but they know their clients personally — their goals, their inspirations, their challenges — and can therefore make referrals that truly fit your ideal prospect.
  • Executive recruiters. Recruiters have a snapshot of a client’s past and present earnings as it relates to their career. This insight brings a unique perspective to understanding someone’s financial position. A referral relationship with a recruiter can be especially beneficial if they’re aware of exactly the type of client you’re looking for.
  • Attorneys. Attorneys often assist with estate and trust planning, and therefore possess intimate knowledge of a client’s financials. This means they can work side by side with a financial advisor to help protect a client’s wealth and secure legacy.
  • Jewelers. Custom jewelers interact with clients who are in a financial position to spend and invest their money. Seek out jewelers who’ve been in business for 10 or more years; they’re the ones more likely to have long-term clients and sound relationships.

Another critical center of influence financial advisors should consider: insurance agents. Farm Bureau gives its Wealth Management Advisors the opportunity to connect with 1,700 centers of influence — insurance agents in 14 states who serve more than a half million clients.

How Can You Develop Relationships With Centers of Influence?

Make a list of the types of centers of influence with whom you’d like to build a relationship for financial advisor referrals. Then find someone who can introduce you.

It might be someone you already know or it could be a friend of a friend. LinkedIn serves as a great resource for making these types of connections; run a search of your network to find 2nd or 3rd level relationships to centers of influence you’d like to meet.  

When you sit down for an initial meeting with a potential center of influence, be clear about what it is that makes you referable. It’s important for a center of influence to understand what you do, whom you serve and what your area of specialty is so that when they encounter your ideal client, they’ll recognize it as a fit.

The more detailed you can be about what makes you stand out from the crowd, the more likely a center of influence will be able to send you the right clients.  

How Can You Maintain Strong Relationships With Centers of Influence?

Remember that a relationship is a two-way street. You’re partnering with a center of influence for mutually beneficial rewards, not simply using them to garner referrals. This means that it’s essential for you to understand a center of influence’s business and the types of clients they work with, just as it’s important that they know this same information about you.

This way, both of you will always be looking for new-client opportunities to send each other’s way, and thus, adding value to one another’s business growth.

Connect With Centers of Influence for Financial Advisor Referrals

If you’re considering making a move to a company where you’ll have built-in access to centers of influence, consider joining our team. Contact a Regional Manager to learn more.