Building a Successful RIA Practice: Strategies for Client Acquisition and Retention

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When it comes to building a successful RIA practice, client acquisition and retention are absolutely essential. As independent financial planners, it is imperative to establish meaningful and long-lasting relationships with clients in order to thrive in this industry.

However, let’s get real here – acquiring clients is just the beginning. It takes dedication and hard work to maintain strong relationships with them. In this blog, we’ll delve into some essential strategies that independent financial planners can implement to effectively acquire and retain clients. So buckle up and get ready for some insights for a successful RIA practice!

What is Client Acquisition?

Client acquisition is an essential aspect of running a successful financial planning business. Whether you’re first leaving behind a large firm and transitioning to independence or simply searching for new ways to scale a successful RIA practice, your client acquisition strategy will determine the growth and success of your business.

And just to make sure we’re all on the same page here–what do we mean when we say client acquisition? We’re referring to the process of attracting and acquiring NEW clients for your financial planning practice. However, these strategies will also apply to retaining your existing clients.

To put it in marketing jargon, client acquisition involves identifying and targeting ideal potential clients, fostering a relationship with them, and converting them into paying customers. Client acquisition is an essential aspect of growing a successful RIA practice as it helps you expand your client base, boost revenue and reach your full potential as an independent financial advisor.

The Importance of Client Acquisition for Independent Financial Planners

Client acquisition is particularly important for independent financial planners, especially if you’re first transitioning to independence. Let’s face it– financial planning has become more and more of a highly competitive industry, and as independent financial planners, it is imperative that we differentiate ourselves from competitors to stand out.

An effective client acquisition strategy will showcase the unique skill sets you can offer, such as retirement planning, tax planning, or succession exit strategies. It will help you distinguish your services and attract potential clients that would benefit from your advice.

How to Find Clients for Your Independent Financial Planning Practice

As an independent financial planner, you want clients to come to you – not the other way around. But let’s not be naive, they’re not going to magically appear out of thin air. You need to put in the work and set up some killer client acquisition strategies to bring them and keep them coming!

In your search for the best client acquisition strategies, you may have read countless books, attended seminars and webinars, and even hired a marketing consultant to help you with client acquisition. However, the truth is, there are some things you should do and some things you shouldn’t do when it comes to client acquisition.

Do’s and Don’ts of Client Acquisition

Do #1: Identify Your Ideal Client

One of the first things you need to do when it comes to client acquisition is to identify your ideal client. Who are you trying to target? What type of clients do you work best with? It’s important to narrow down your focus instead of trying to appeal to everyone.


Don’t #1: Try to Appeal to Everyone

As mentioned, one of the don’ts when it comes to client acquisition is trying to appeal to everyone. By casting too wide of a net, you will end up diluting your message and ultimately attract the wrong type of clients. It’s best to focus on a specific niche and become the go-to expert for that group.


Do #2: Build a Strong Personal Brand

In today’s digital age, building a strong personal brand is more important than ever. Your website, social media profiles, and even your personal style and demeanor all contribute to how potential clients perceive you. It’s important to present yourself in a professional and cohesive way that aligns with your business goals.


Don’t #2: Use Aggressive or Inauthentic Marketing

While it’s important to market yourself and your business, it’s crucial to do so in an authentic and genuine way. Using aggressive or inauthentic marketing tactics will repel potential clients and damage your reputation. Instead, focus on building real connections with people and sharing useful content that adds value.


Do #3: Network and Collaborate

Networking and collaborating with other professionals in your industry can be a powerful way to attract new clients. Building relationships with other centers of influence such as accountants and attorneys, can lead to referrals and new business opportunities.


Don’t #3: Sell Too Hard

Lastly, don’t make the mistake of coming on too strong and trying to sell your services too aggressively. This can be a major turn-off and will likely cause potential clients to back away. Instead, focus on building relationships and offering value before “asking for the sale.”

11 Effective Client Acquisition Strategies for Independent Financial Planners

In today’s competitive landscape, earning the trust of clients and improving your visibility have become increasingly difficult tasks – but there are strategies that can help! Here is a breakdown of 11 effective client acquisition strategies designed specifically for independent financial advisors. Walk away with actionable tips and insights you can use right away to keep growing your business and maximizing results.

1. Stay active online!

Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn offer independent financial advisors a valuable avenue to connect with prospective clients. It presents an opportunity to share relevant and valuable content specific to your target audience, fostering relationships and establishing credibility through regular posting.

Moreover, social media enables direct outreach to potential clients who may benefit from your services. It can prove to be a powerful tool when seeking referrals from other professionals within your industry, such as fellow financial professionals like mortgage brokers.

While it is important to exercise caution when posting to comply with regulatory requirements, viewing social media as a means to enhance brand visibility and yield remarkable results for a successful RIA practice.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth!

Word-of-mouth referrals can be incredibly valuable for RIA practitioners. Developing a referral program that incentivizes centers of influence to refer new business can help to increase client acquisition.  Furthermore, referral programs can be used to retain clients. Offering special incentives and rewards to centers of influence who refer new business can help to build stronger relationships and increase new potential client acquisitions.

3. Get personal!

In a highly competitive market, RIA practitioners that prioritize personalized service stand out from the crowd. By taking the time to understand the unique needs and goals of each client, RIA practitioners can deliver more meaningful and impactful advice. Additionally, personalized service helps establish trust and builds stronger relationships with clients.

This also includes sending personalized emails or texts for special dates in your clients’ lives. With automation, it is super easy these days to keep track of your clients’ birthdays and other events so that you’re reminded when to reach out.

4. Leverage technology!

Technology can be an incredible resource for RIA practitioners looking to acquire and retain clients. By utilizing tools like email marketing and digital advertising, RIA practitioners can more effectively reach new clients. Additionally, technology can be used to streamline processes, allowing RIA practitioners to focus more on building personal relationships with clients.

Advisors who excel in client acquisition focus their efforts on harnessing powerful technological tools and maximizing their utilization. A client relationship management system, commonly referred to as CRM, stands out as the top choice among successful independent financial advisors.

However, it’s not merely about utilizing these tools, but rather fully leveraging every feature with each client. If you haven’t incorporated these tools into your practice yet, it is worth considering their integration. Furthermore, if you’re already using a CRM, make sure to optimize its workflow functionality to establish repeatable processes in your practice.

5. Stay cool, calm and CURRENT!

Practitioners of a successful RIA practice who stay abreast of industry trends and evolving client needs are better positioned to acquire and retain clients. By staying up-to-date on developments in the field, RIA practitioners can better meet the changing needs of their clients.

Additionally, demonstrating deep knowledge and expertise helps to establish credibility and build stronger relationships with clients.

6. Invest in multiple client acquisition tactics

It’s important to understand that there isn’t a single magic solution to prospecting. Instead, they deploy a combination of multiple tactics simultaneously, often utilizing eight or more. Each top financial advisor develops a unique blend of prospecting and marketing strategies that align with their business goals.


However, they all employ various tactics and avoid relying solely on referrals for growth. If you find yourself primarily focused on a few tactics, it may be worthwhile to evaluate your approach and incorporate additional strategies to supplement your current efforts.


7. Concentrate on comprehensive financial planning

Our top IFG financial advisors engage in comprehensive planning, covering a wide range of client financial matters. This includes thorough tax analysis and retirement distribution planning, enabling investors to strategize effectively for the future. Consequently, they are able to offer unique advice that distinguishes them from competitors.


By providing such value, they establish stronger and more lasting relationships with clients, leading to increased referrals. If your focus primarily revolves around portfolio construction or goals-based planning, delving deeper into comprehensive planning, particularly for top clients, can have a significant impact on both wallet share and referrals. Additionally, it can differentiate your practice in the marketplace.


8. Think multigenerational
In order to effectively serve clients, high-performing professionals establish strong connections with all individuals within a client’s family, including spouses, younger generations, and even parents.


This is achieved through the provision of family planning meetings and tailored services for younger family members. Expanding the range of services offered and inviting clients’ family members to meetings serves as an effective strategy to engage multiple generations.


9. Expand your team

To attract new clients effectively, successful IFG advisors understand the importance of collaboration. Instead of taking on everything independently, many advisors can leverage the resources of a collaborative environment like IFG that can expose them to new strategies, technology and much more.


We like to position it as “independent but not alone”. In other words, we help independent financial planners with high-level support for everything from transition services to investing solutions to compliance and beyond.


10. Start “prospecting up”

Prospecting up refers to targeting the most valuable prospects, specifically those with significant financial resources. Many high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are not responsive to cold-calling or cold emails from salespeople. Their wealth makes them more selective in choosing financial managers.


The concept of prospecting up involves leveraging your existing clients to identify individuals in their network who are regarded for their financial achievements. It’s crucial to understand that as a financial advisor, your earnings are closely tied to your clients’ financial success.


Advisors generate income through two avenues. They charge a fee for asset management and/or earn a commission from product sales. Individuals with more substantial wealth will thus possess more assets and necessitate larger product sales.


11. Collaborate with centers of influence

It is crucial to establish connections with other professionals in your industry. This can be achieved by attending networking events, engaging on social media platforms, and establishing relationships with other centers of influence who share similar interests or expertise. Collaboration with these centers of influence can strengthen these relationships, potentially leading to referrals and future partnerships.


BUT REMEMBER! During networking events, it is important to focus on relationship-building rather than immediately trying to sell your products or services. Approach these events as opportunities to learn about other businesses and their strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, you can identify potential collaboration opportunities or offer advice based on the needs and concerns expressed by other professionals.

5 Client Retention Strategies for Independent Financial Planners

Building a successful independent financial planning practice doesn’t stop with acquiring clients. It’s important to implement strategies to retain them as well!


Here are 6 strategies tailored for independent financial planners to maintain strong relationships with your clients, new and old, so that you can continue to scale your practice.


1. Maintain regular communication

One of the easiest ways to keep clients engaged and feeling valued is to communicate with them regularly. This can be as simple as sending a monthly newsletter with updates on market trends and investment news or scheduling regular check-ins to review their accounts.


By making sure your clients feel they are up to date with what is happening, they will be more comfortable with you.


2. Spend more time with your clients

Successful professionals prioritize engaging with clients. With the help of the IFG Brain Trust, our accomplished advisors are able to significantly dedicate more time to prospects and clients.


How? IFG advisors are provided with the support, resources and manpower they need to delegate the administrative, operational, HR, and other time-consuming work so that they can maximize efficiency and focus more on what they do best.


3. Personalized investment recommendations

Another way to build loyalty with clients is to proactively offer personalized investment recommendations. By reviewing market trends, historical performance, and their risk appetite, you can suggest investment strategies and options that are tailored to their specific needs.


Incorporating a personal touch not only helps build trust but also ensures that they feel like they are more than just an account with your practice.


4. Offer educational resources

Providing education to your clients demonstrates the genuine care you have for their success. Providing scheduled virtual or in-person webinars and events that are open to all your clients to learn, engage and expand their financial knowledge will create a bond between yourself and your clients. It also positions you to be more than simply a professional in their eyes; instead, you could become someone that they trust and rely on for future planning and financial decisions.


5. Be a great listener!

As an independent financial planner, you also need to listen to your clients’ changing needs and shifting priorities. There is no one size that will fit all when it comes to dealing with your clients.


Aside from listening, being empathetic and adaptable in your approach will make you the go-to financial planner for your prospective clientele.

How IFG Can Help You Acquire and Retain Clients

Now, you might be thinking to yourself after reading all of the above– all this sounds great, but how in the world do I find the time to implement it?


Sure, client acquisition takes time and effort. Something independent financial advisors may or may not have– especially if you’re new to independence!


That’s where IFG can become your secret weapon.


As a collaborative consortium of experienced independent RIAs, we work with advisors like you on a daily basis to fill in the gaps of their practice that they just don’t have enough bandwidth for. Each advisor that joins is equipped with a full advisor support team that includes assistance with marketing, branding, client acquisition, retention strategies, business development and more. The list goes on and on.


Plus, by getting involved with the IFG Brain Trust, you can leverage the knowledge and experience of over a hundred independent financial advisors to better understand what has worked for them in acquiring and retaining new clients. It’s an amazing way to jumpstart the growth of your practice and start forging the path to your full potential.


Get Out There and Get Clients!

In conclusion, building a successful RIA practice requires a combination of effective client acquisition and retention strategies. Independent financial planners that utilize social media, develop referral programs, emphasize personalized service, leverage technology, and stay current are more likely to acquire and retain clients. By prioritizing these strategies, RIA practitioners can establish strong relationships with clients that yield long-term success for the business.

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