Interview with Investment Executive- Six Rules for Attracting HNW Clients

Prepare your business to meet these clients’ needs By Fiona Collie | January 05, 2012

Doing your homework in advance will give you the confidence to approach high net-worth prospects, says Rosemary Smyth, president and coach of Rosemary Smyth and Associates in Victoria.

Whether it's building a strong team, researching the market or creating a strong service process, being prepared will help you earn the respect of both current and future and clients, says Smyth, who specializes in working with financial advisors.

Follow these tips to prepare your business to work with high net-worth clients:

1. Know the client's world
Make sure you understand where the client or prospect is coming from.

"Have a basic understanding of their world before you get into it," says Smyth. While you don't have to be an expert in everything, you need to at least be aware of what clients are talking about — whether it's a tax issue or an insurance inquiry.

2. Create a team
Put together a well balanced group to handle HNW clients' needs.

Make sure you have the right size team that includes people with the appropriate skills, Smyth says, so the client's needs are taken care of swiftly and professionally.

Develop a system with your team to ensure no client request or issue falls through the cracks.

3. Work with COIs
Build a network of centres of influence to better serve HNW clients.

You need to build an external team that you can rely on, Smyth says, which should include professionals such as lawyers, accountants and insurance specialists.

4. Cover every detail
Make your business a one-stop financial planning shop for clients.

Simply reviewing the client's RRSP and send them on their way is not enough, Smyth says. HNW clients have more complex portfolios and financial concerns. You need to cover everything in the client's review, including holding companies, trusts, individual pension plans and estate and succession plans.

Also, Smyth says, explain clearly the fees you charge for this in-depth planning.

5. Respect clients' time
Structure your business so that it will be time-efficient for your HNW clients.

Time is precious to affluent clients, Smyth says, and it's important to be respectful of their time when working with them. That might mean meeting with clients at their homes outside regular business hours, or scheduling meetings around their travel plans.

6. Keep it personal
Look beyond the numbers and build real relationships with your HNW clients — just as you would with any other client.

Some advisors look only at the accounts and forget to think of the people, Smyth says. Make sure you are targeting these HNW individuals because you enjoy working with them as people, and that your relationship is built on mutual trust and respect.

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© 2009 Rosemary Smyth & Associates