August 29, 2011 09:00 ET

SEI Identifies 4 Ways for Advisors to Boost Client Referrals in Any Market

Advisors Say Referrals Critical to Success, but Lack Ways to Jumpstart Process

OAKS, PA--(Marketwire - Aug 29, 2011) - While financial advisors agree that client referrals are critical to a firm's growth, nearly half of advisors say they've asked only "a small percentage" of their clients for a referral, according to an SEI (NASDAQ: SEIC) Quick Poll released today. Additionally, only one in five advisors said that seeking referrals is a "regular routine and a key reason of my success." These results confirm the industry sentiment that advisors lack the tools necessary to generate referrals. The survey, completed by 210 advisors, was conducted during a recent SEI Advisor Network webinar on building client referrals, which also included the distribution of a whitepaper on the topic, Turbo-charging Client Referrals.

"It's clear that the majority of advisors aren't capitalizing on the valuable opportunity sitting right in front of them," said John Anderson, Head of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network. "Through working with advisors for many years, we've learned what works and what doesn't when it comes to client referrals. As a result, we've outlined actionable steps to help advisors proactively ask for introductions."

As part of the whitepaper, SEI identified some of the top tips advisors should follow to generate both referrals and introductions. Those include:

1. Engage Your Clients - Research shows that engaged clients are an advisor's greatest advocate. They believe in what advisors do, are committed to their success and, with coaching, can provide a steady stream of qualified prospects. Advisors can improve client engagement by following three simple steps: 1) working with the right clients, whose needs match their strengths, 2) developing a deeper connection through frequent, quality contact and ongoing dialogue, and 3) asking the right questions by encouraging client input and putting that feedback into practice.

2. Follow the Three W's - Successful referral-only practices always have the three W's -- Who, What, and When -- on their mind. These advisors develop and follow client profiles, knowing who they want to attract in terms of demographics, occupation, lifestyle, and personality. They have a clear value proposition detailing what about their practice distinguishes them from other advisors, enabling them to pinpoint a target audience and play to the practice's strengths. And, they know when to ask for a referral, an often overlooked step to success.

3. Leverage Technology - Social networking tools are an advisor's best friend. With LinkedIn's "People You May Know" tool, advisors can discover and vet potential prospects through connections to a client. Best practices recommend asking clients for permission before sending requests to their connections. Successful advisors periodically update their online profile and practice "drip marketing," to connect with prospects over a set amount of time, rather than bombarding them with unnecessary content.

4. Do Your Homework - When approaching a client, it's important to be prepared. Firstly, consider asking for introductions, not just referrals. Secondly, it's best to work from a script or, at a minimum, practice ahead of time. Often, clients can't immediately think of anyone appropriate for an introduction, but advisors can skirt this problem by having one or two prospective names in mind. Also, clients are more likely to refer if it's an easy process. It's best for advisors to define their "five-star client" and provide the description to their clients. That way, clients will better understand what their advisors are looking for and will be more engaged in the process.

"Every good advisor knows they should be utilizing existing clients to generate referrals. The only question is how," said Taylor Ranker, Owner of The Ranker-Hanshaw Group in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "For more than 20 years, our firm has run a formal program of asking clients for introductions and referrals and it has been a critical reason for our success. Our proactive approach includes discussing introductions and referrals at every client review meeting. We've also mapped out our 'ideal client profiles' so that when we ask for introductions, our existing clients know who we fit best with."

For a free copy of Turbo-charging Client Referrals, please visit

About The SEI Advisor Network
The SEI Advisor Network provides financial advisors with turnkey wealth management services through outsourced investment strategies, administration and technology platforms, and practice management programs. It is through these services that SEI helps advisors save time, grow revenues, and differentiate themselves in the market. With a history of financial strength, stability, and transparency, the SEI Advisor Network has been serving the independent financial advisor market for more than 16 years, has more than 5,800 advisors who work with SEI, and $31.6 billion in advisors' assets under management (as of June 30, 2011). The SEI Advisor Network is a strategic business unit of SEI. For more information, visit

About SEI
SEI (NASDAQ: SEIC) is a leading global provider of investment processing, fund processing, and investment management business outsourcing solutions that help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and ultra-high-net-worth families create and manage wealth. As of June 30, 2011, through its subsidiaries and partnerships in which the company has a significant interest, SEI manages or administers $430 billion in mutual fund and pooled assets or separately managed assets, including $180 billion in assets under management and $250 billion in client assets under administration. For more information, visit

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