Just as King Arthur had his trusted Knights of the Roundtable, each of your clients have a circle of influence that impacts the decisions they make in their personal and professional lives. These will include CPAs and attorneys, as well as real estate brokers, bankers, and other professionals. These are all people you need to develop relationships with – why? Because they exert influence on your clients’ lives in a way that impacts your role at the table.
When you obtain a new client, ask if you can speak with the client’s other professionals: “Do you have a CPA you’ve worked with for a while and are comfortable with? Do you have an estate planning attorney that you’ve worked with for a while and are comfortable with?” If the answer is yes, ask, “Do you mind if I give that person a call and introduce myself?”
When people take on a new advisor, their current professionals often wonder if that new advisor is a threat. Are they going to suggest new CPAs and attorneys, as well? They will then sometimes actively work to undercut your influence with the client to protect their own. You can stop this very common dynamic in its tracks by building relationships with their current centers of influence. In fact, it can become beneficial for everyone involved.
After I receive permission from the client, I simply pick up the phone and call. Interestingly enough, most advisors don’t think to do this. Truthfully, I didn’t either earlier in my career. If you are calling their CPA, simply say, “Mike and Diane opened up an account recently with me. They gave their permission for me to speak with you. I just want to introduce myself and ensure that I’m being as tax-efficient as possible with their investments. Are there any tax considerations I should be aware of, so I make sure I don’t trigger something?”
I have just begun working with some new clients who have recently retired. Even though they have substantial assets, they’re not in the highest tax bracket anymore. However, all of their fixed income was in tax-free instruments. That might not be the most efficient way to invest their capital now that they are in a lower bracket. These are things I could discuss with their CPA that would not only help me invest sensibly for my client, but reassure the CPA that he or she was going to remain a part of this client’s wealth management team.
In addition to serving your client more efficiently, understanding your client’s “roundtable” or centers of influence can provide one of the best sources of referrals. Once they know you are not a threat, they are more apt to refer business to you. Stay in front of these important professionals four times per year and you will be surprised at how valuable they can be to your business.