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7 High Net Worth Acquisition Strategies

Oftentimes, it’s not what you’re doing; it’s what you’re not doing. “I only work with high net worth clients.” This is something we have all heard from advisors and would like to believe. Unfortunately most of the time, it just isn’t true. However, some advisors have created the recipe for attracting, acquiring, and maintaining both high net worth (HNW) clients, and most importantly, their referrals. Remember, “A” clients run in the same circle with other “A” clients.

Businesses are demographically set up to be run completely by referral. In a recent study, they found that 78% of people trust peer recommendations, where only 14% of people trust advertisements. The very same methods you use to acquire high net worth clients are the very same secrets you use to generate a solid referral base. Implementing the ideas in this report will help you cut down your advertising costs and increase the net worth of your clients. Make more, spend less: the true “American Dream.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

Terms like “safe money” and “you can’t afford to lose 20% of your savings” simply do not motivate high net worth individuals.  They know where they stand and they do not have the same risk tolerance as the majority of your clients.

Here’s a tip: Stop pushing mutual funds.  HNW individuals have been around mutual funds their entire lives in their 401(k)s and IRAs and, yes, they can use Morningstar, too. If they wanted someone to make mutual fund recommendations, they would use T. Rowe Price.

Instead, you need to be offering real solutions that they can’t get elsewhere. “One of the most popular investment strategies I have used is managing a portfolio of ETFs (long and inverse) utilizing a covered call overlay.” says ETF strategist Kevin Simpson. Or how about pulling in a premium finance expert for advanced estate planning?  Remember, you need to offer something that others don’t!

Be the financial coordinator, not just their financial advisor.

Family CFO, Financial Quarterback…we’ve all heard the terms people use to describe themselves as the complete advisor to the client. It is one thing to say this to a prospect; it’s another thing to actually be it. The first thing you’ll learn about HNW people is that most of them didn’t get where they are by not paying attention. If they feel you are trying to sell them on the fact of being this all-encompassing advisor, they are going to test you to see if that’s true. In order to demonstrate your ability to be a financial coordinator, you should meet three criteria that will make an accredited investor believe your claim.

One, you need to be both able to offer insurance and securities, and specifically separately-managed accounts. Whether or not you have preference toward one product or another, simply being licensed to use them shows a HNW client that you really do have options.

Two, if you succeed in gathering their assets, use a professional money manager. Clients know the difference between a broker, an insurance agent, and a true money manager.

Last, you need to utilize a CPA that you know or your HNW prospect knows. There is no way, as an advisor, that you can assure the tax planning and tax advice you give will not affect their overall situation. Stay in your bucket, give financial advice, and let the CPA and money manager do their job.

Five-Star treatment is expected.

HNW individuals do not expect too much, but they do expect to be treated with respect (and a little service). They have worked hard to have nice things and to live a life that they have dreamed.  They appreciate and respect others that work hard and are successful. “HNW individuals are really not any different than you or I. It’s not like a high net worth client walks into the office expecting to be treated a certain way,” says P. Michael Valley II, President and Founder of Estate Planning Professionals in Ohio. “We treat our HNW clients just like we treat every other client.”                          
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Mike has built a 100% referral-based practice and attributes a lot of his success to “the little things” they do for their clients. Walking into Mike’s office you are greeted by a smiling “director of first impressions.”  The HNW individual’s name is written on the lobby sign welcoming them to their appointment. Before you meet with Michael, you are presented with a menu to choose a beverage from. “Just be careful if you begin offering that level of service because your clients will expect it from you every time and you have to deliver.”

It’s about earning referrals, not asking for them.                 

Every advisor says they are going to make referrals a focus of their business. There are several “systems” out there that offer methods for increasing referrals. The truth is, you need to earn referrals first. Referrals come from what you have done for clients, not what you “will do.” Customer service means getting things done when you said you would. It means meeting with them every quarter to see how they are feeling and how their investments are doing. Advisors in the high net worth arena are taking this even one step further using technology. Using a good CRM will allow you to automate marketing campaigns and segregate groups of clients. Imagine all of your clients automatically getting monthly newsletters, birthday cards, and anniversary cards. Some advisors are setting up mailing campaigns based around RMDs and annual free withdrawals. Several are even using a CRM that updates values of investments and fixed indexed annuity values every quarter. Showing a client this type of accurate and timely report is exactly the reason they leave all their assets with you.

It’s not how much you’re paid; it’s how you’re paid.

Clients with greater than a million dollars of investable assets fully realize you do not provide services as a hobby or charity. Nor do they believe that your seminars are “educational workshops” and that “nothing will be sold.”  They know exactly what you do, but they are always asking, how do you get paid? They are not asking “how much do you get paid?” What they are really wanting to know is: how are you paid, and are you going to tell me how you are paid? Luckily, for those of you that are investment advisors, full disclosure is provided in your Form ADV. As an advisor, you can tell them exactly how you will be compensated because payment will come directly from the HNW individual’s pocket book. For the rest of you, you may have to explain things a different way. Please do not think your HNW prospect will believe you when you tell them, “You do not owe me anything, the insurance company (or fund company) will compensate me for our time.”  I can assure you they know they are paying for it in some way.

If you are a professional, look like one.

There are so many advisors that lose business because of their corporate and personnel image. They may not think of themselves as having a “corporate image,” but believe me, you are developing a brand. A brand is how people think of your business. Your business cards, brochures, and website either will impress people or turn them away. I can’t express how important your professional image is. If you are not taking this seriously, start to now. Most HNW individuals give back to their community and are actively involved; make sure you are doing the same.

Educate yourself.

You do not have to be a CFA or an MBA, but you do have to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with HNW individuals on various subject matters, the stock market and the economy being two major areas of focus. Most HNW individuals will have investments such as private placements, stocks, options, and REITs. They are coming to you for your opinion on their situation; you better have an answer.

About Brian Lucius

Brian Lucius
Brian Lucius is the president of Gradient Positioning Systems, the creative and design firm for Gradient, partnered with all the Gradient family of companies. He started his financial services career in sales and marketing with a leading Allianz-owned field marketing organization. You can contact him at 800-407-4137, or via his company Web site at

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