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Client referrals are oxygen to financial advisors who choose to grow their practice organically. One would think that in a high-trust profession, client referrals would be a natural source of sustained new business. Without client referrals, many firms would simply shrivel up. Yet, as a referral coach for financial advisors, I’ve experienced that in too many cases, a genuine client referral process doesn’t exist. If one does exist, it’s often unfocused and disconnected from all other marketing efforts.

For many advisors, asking clients for referrals remains a messy, uncomfortable situation.

The result is an episodic, unorganized referral effort that is pushed onto the client at the end of their review meeting. Nearly every advisor I speak to uses this same approach for asking clients for referrals. The tactic must have begun a long time ago and continues to be passed down through the ranks because, “this is how we do it” or “this is how I did it and it worked for me.”

Okay, so let’s get real.

Perhaps this approach has worked for some people. The consensus was, “Why not ask the client for referrals while I have them in front of me? Right?” Sure, it’s possible that a client will cough up a name or give a phone number or two. However, advisors admit to me that it feels horrible, it makes the client squirm and even if they do get a name or number, it never amounts to much. Not to mention, isn’t a client review meeting supposed to be focused on the client? There’s a better way to go about it that is more in alignment with your relationship-focused practice.