a High-Net-Worth Clientele is often based on developing relationships
that start as acquaintances. develop into friendships as trust is
established, and finally become business relationships when a need
is identified and addressed. Many advisors feel this approach is
flawed because it cakes such a long time. But that mistaken sentiment
is good for you: In a crowded field, most of your competitors eliminate
is a systematic process to meet wealthy people in social situations,
learn about their interests and needs, develop social relationships,
and then build business relationships with them when appropriate.
The objective is not to meet wealthy people in social situations
and then call and ask for their business. If you're not sincere
and forthright, most people will quickly divine it and reject you.
That's especially true with wealthy people.
where do you start? Developing relationships with wealthy people
involves three steps: meeting the right people in low- or no-pressure
social situations, discerning their interests, and then meeting
them again. If this process sounds like the rules for dating, you're
right. Most of the rules for developing friendships with wealthy
people are interchangeable with the basic rules of dating.
1: Meeting People
assume that you've done your research; you know that wealthy people
belong to the local art museum, for example, and you've joined,
too. After reviewing the museum's annual report, you have identified
the people you want to meet. You attend a reception and see a wealthy
person who heads your list. How do you meet them?
look around the room to see who's present that you know and who
also knows that wealthy person. This is easier than it sounds- After
all, you have probably already met the membership director, development
director, and publicity director of the organizatlon. They could
make the introduction for you.
that there's a considerable difference between referrals and introductions.
When you ask for a referral, the intermediary must "sell you" as
a prospective advisor. Introductions are much easier. You are a
peer, another member of the same organization. The intermediary
can easily mention a few things you have in common.
what happens if you don't see a familiar face? Then figure out who
you know in common. If it's a golf club, the person may play with
the same people you do or serve on the same committee. You introduce
yourself and say: "I believe we have a friend in common." You mention
the person and explain how you know them. The conversation's started.
this sound contrived? Remember another rule of dating: Everyone
knows what everyone else is doing. There is an accepted set of rules
happens if you don't have a common friend? Remember one of the key
rules in the non-profit world: "You can never thank people enough."
Paradoxically, the people who give money to cultural institutions
are rarely if ever thanked by the intended recipients, the membership.
Take the initiative and thank those people yourself.
may be wondering, why these wealthy people would be interested in
talking to you, but remember another rule of dating- The person
who is doing the talking is the one having a good time. You are
interesting because you are interested in others. Stop talking and
2: Topics of Conversation
the introduction is made, it's wise to have a few open-ended questions
in mind to get the conversation going. Among the safe topics to
discuss are where they live and where they like to travel. This
will give you clues as to their passions as well as their financial
during the conversation the other person will want to know what
you "do." This is not a buying signal-"Thank you for asking! I have
a short PowerPoint presentation. Did you see a plug somewhere?"
is the wrong response. Less is more.
way to respond, and a strategy often favored by established, successful
advisors, is to simply recite your title and name of your firm:
"I'm a vice president with ABC Securities," or "I'm a financial
advisor with Smith Life Planning."
keep it so short? For one thing, the other person may not care what
you do for a living, and was only asking out of politeness. Alternatively,
they may be actually interested, but can sense when a person starts
"selling" them. You can provide more detail if the person appears
really interested; "I'm a vice president with ABC Securities. I
work with a small group of successful executives and families in
the area." Using "small and successful" implies exclusivity, while
"in the area" provides local flavor.
could add a third sentence, "I'm a vice president with ABC Securities.
I work with a small group of successful executives and families
in the area, helping them with issues like maximizing the value
of their stock options." The object is to get them to ask questions.
any good speaker, remember to tailor your remarks to your audience-
If a retired person in their 80s asks what you do, you shouldn't
give the same answer as to a 40-year-old successful business owner.
Have additional responses ready.
recall that you have many roles in the community. When people ask
what you "do," they aren't necessarily asking what you do for a
living. If you meet the person at a museum reception, answer the
question in that capacity. "I'm a volunteer here at the museum."
After all, they may volunteer as well, and the discussion may turn
to how you both got involved. Later in the conversation, you can
introduce your career.
what you have in common with this person. Ask them about their work
or a job-related question to determine if they are successful or
have authority in their position. Ask about the town or neighborhood
they live in. Ask about their leisure activities-where they play
golf, what other organizations they belong to, which events they
attend. Wealthy individuals tend to congregate with other such people.
Literally and figuratively, find out where they live.
that your objective is to get people talking about their passions.
Once they realize you are interested, a bond starts to develop.
The quietest person in the room can be the most interesting person
once you get them talking about their passion.
3: The Follow Up
evening is over. How do you lay the groundwork to see those people
again? First, help to establish your value by reminding them of
the things you have in common. They may be wine buffs, and you may
know some stores with a good selection that are new to them. Remind
them of your shared interests, and mention that you would like to
stay in touch. Instead of just passing along your business card,
I often use a business card with my name and number handwritten
in large letters on the back. Presenting it handwritten-side forward
indicates this is a social contact.
organizations often have scheduled events that active members may
attend regularly, so mention that you're looking forward to seeing
them at the next scheduled event. And since people attending a reception
often don't have specific plans for after the event, invite them
to join you and friends for lunch or dinner.
dating, you should make the first move to see them again. Call about
the next event, contacting them a week in advance; "We met at the
last opening. Are you going to the opening on Friday? We are heading
out to dinner afterwards. Want to join us?" You can also invite
prospects to your home, which speeds up the process of getting to
know them. It's best to invite another couple you both know in common,
which makes accepting the invitation easier for them.
personal relationships with wealthy people is a slow process. Many
others want to do business with them and use a direct, sales-oriented
approach. But remember that wealthy people (like most people) enjoy
doing business with people they like. Your objective is to meet
them, take a genuine interest in them. and determine if you have
enough in common to develop a personal relationship. That's an approach
that will yield a rewarding relationship for advisor and client.
Bryce Sanders, a 20-year financial services veteran,
is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania,
which trains advisors on how to identify and meet high-net-worth individuals
and transform them into clients. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.