Today’s episode is a first as this is actually a guest appearance I had on The Lawyerist Podcast that’s run by Sam Glover and Aaron Street. I had a chance to get to know Aaron out at Jayson Gaynard’s Mastermind Talks event and they are really running a similar format to what we do here, only specifically designed to help lawyers grow their practices. They serve a massive audience of lawyers across the country, so what’s fun is you get some tremendous insight from Sam during this conversation on a lawyer’s perspective when it comes to referral relationships and why this often breaks down when dealing with financial advisors.
Also, over the last decade of conversations with financial advisors, I know this is often one of the biggest frustrations in our industry and I wanted to share this conversation with you to help you crack the code on attorney referrals.
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- The only 2 things driving revenue for your financial advisory firm and why everything else you do is costing you money. [04:38]
- How to create referrals between financial advisors and lawyers—Don’t miss how you can integrate an attorney directly into your planning process to drive massive referrals. [09:06]
- Learn how “The First 100 Days” methodology can help you dramatically improve the client experience, increase client retention and maximize your bottom line! [18:25]
- The one service a financial advisor can add to their practice to make their firm ultra attractive to any estate planning attorney in their market to cement that relationship. [26:55]
- [04:38] Brad explains the only 2 things driving revenue for your financial advisory firm—learn why everything else is just costing you money!
- [09:06] Cracking the code on referrals between financial advisors and lawyers.
- [18:25] Learn how you can design an incredible client experience that your clients will rave about for years to come.
- [23:53] Tap into the power of gifting and learn how to say thank you in a meaningful way.
- [26:55] Brad shares his advice for developing a seamless relationship between financial advisors, lawyers, and their clients.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Brad
- Lawyerist Podcast – The Lawyerist Podcast is a show about the future of lawyering and law practice hosted by Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Every week they have conversations with successful lawyers and other creative people helping to shape the future of law practice.
- Brad’s guest appearance on the Lawyerist podcast
- Net Promoter Score
- Mastermind Talks
- The First 100 Days
- Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
REVIEW OF THE WEEK
Thanks for checking out the latest show, here’s this weeks featured review! This one comes to us from user Team 46&2 who says:
Thanks for the review 46&2, I’m humbled by all the kind words and positive feedback I continue to get from you all on the show and I’ll do my best to keep getting content out there that serves all of you in financial services. Speaking of modern day influencers and out of the box thinking, if any of you listening in have connections to someone who you think would make a great guest, drop me a note out on Twitter. I’m @brad_johnson and would love to hear from you!
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- Listen to it on iTunes.
Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast with your host, Brad Johnson. Brad’s the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the US. He’s also a regular contributor to Investment News, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.
[00:00:24] Brad: Welcome to the Elite Advisor Blueprint, the podcast for world-class financial advisors. My name is Brad Johnson and I’m the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, and it’s my goal to distill the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising.
Today’s episode is a first as this is actually a guest appearance I had on The Lawyerist Podcast that’s run by Sam Glover and Aaron Street. I had a chance to get to know Aaron out of Jayson Gaignard’s Mastermind Talks event and they really are running a similar format to what we do here only specifically designed to help lawyers grow their practices. They serve a massive audience of lawyers all across the country. So, what’s fun is you get some tremendous insight from Sam during this conversation on a lawyer’s perspective when it comes to referral relationships and why this often breaks down when dealing with financial advisors. Also, over the last decade of conversation with financial advisors out there just like you, I know this is often one of the biggest frustrations in our industry and I wanted to share this conversation to help you crack the code on attorney referrals.
Here are a few highlights on what we get into during this conversation. First off, we cover the only two things driving revenue for your financial advisory firm and why everything else you do is costing you money. Then we dive deep into how to create referrals between financial advisors and lawyers and it was fun going back and forth with Sam here to really understand the attorney’s perspective and even get into how one of our clients has developed a framework to integrate an attorney directly into their planning process to drive massive referrals. Later on, we go a little off track for a bit like getting to some fun ideas that even if you can’t outspend your competition, some ways you can out experience them to create an incredible client experience to keep your firm from being a commodity in your own market. We wrap up the conversation with the one service a financial advisor can add to their practice to make their firm ultra-attractive to any estate planning attorney in their market and really help cement that relationship so make sure you don’t miss it.
[00:02:22] Brad: Okay. One last thing before we get to the conversation, for those of you who want to take full advantage of the ideas shared today, I’ve made available a free tool we use with our clients to outline the most successful approach for developing great referral relationships with attorneys in your market. To download a copy of the Estate Planning Attorney Referral Blueprint, you can get it right at the top of the show notes. It’s at BradleyJohnson.com/37. That’s 37. Links for all the other resources there as well including a full transcript of our conversation and everything else from the show.
So that’s it. As always, thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with The Lawyerist, Sam Glover.
[00:03:08] Brad: Hi, I’m Brad Johnson. My technical title is VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, but I guess if you really want to know what we do on a daily basis, we help financial advisors design their ideal practices. So, that typically starts with marketing, leads to their appointment process as far as how clients go through their firm, and then hopefully gets to a point of how do we help them scale higher, build out an infrastructure where they’re really more of a CEO as opposed to a salesperson. So, high-level, that’s what we do, Sam.
[00:03:38] Sam: Hi, Brad, and thanks for being with us. So, when you say financial advisors, are you talking about mostly solos or mostly very small practices? What does the typical client look like? Or what does a typical financial advisor or wealth planner look like?
[00:03:52] Brad: The easy answer is probably a lot like the audience of lawyers here, everything. So, for us, our niche really in the financial services space, our clients are independent financial advisors, so they’re not working for Ed Jones, Merrill, Morgan. They’re Joe Smith Advisor firm, so they are typically entrepreneurs. Most of them start probably like most of the audience here starts, as a solo practitioner, maybe a couple of staff. And then as the firm grows, as they have success, some of our biggest clients might have four, five, six, eight different advisors in the firm with a fairly massive staff to support them.
[00:04:32] Sam: Okay. So, yeah. That looks a lot like probably a lot of the people who are listening. I think there’s a lot of overlap. So, maybe it would be interesting to talk a little bit more about how they do build business. I mean, you’ve talked about your services as sort of baby steps from the beginning all the way to being the CEO, but what does that path look like as far as marketing and getting clients?
[00:04:53] Brad: It’s such a complicated question, but it’s such a simple question. One of the things that we do is we train or we teach our clients how to think about how they drive revenue through their firm. What’s crazy is when you start out, you’re just trying to survive. So, really, you’re the janitor. You’re the receptionist. Not quite to that level, but you’re pretty much doing everything. And so, as we teach firms how to scale, as we teach an advisor how to scale, really, I’m guessing it’s fairly similar to an attorney or to a lawyer, is really there are only two things. This is dealing with firms that bring in – one of our top clients will bring in 150 million plus of organic assets this year, some of our smaller offices, 3, 4 million of organic assets. So, these are large firms.
On both sides of that spectrum, they still only make money two ways. That’s number one, to be sitting in front of a new prospect across the desk from them that’s qualified. And number two, to be serving an existing client that still drives revenue to their firm. Anything outside of that, if you really break it down to the bare bones, is costing them money if it’s on their schedule or on their to-do list. So, we start there. We start with how do you maximize revenue to the firm and then how do you build a team around you that removes all of those obstacles that get in your way. As an advisor, basically, it takes it off your plate, if that makes sense.
[00:06:16] Sam: Well, that’s interesting. I mean, it sounds like there are definitely some similarities but also some differences in the way that financial advising works. I mean, it’s much more explicitly about advising rather than delivering solutions maybe. I’m curious, many lawyers have a hard time, none of our listeners I’m sure, but many lawyers have a hard time thinking about their practices as a business. And I’m wondering if that is also true for financial planners and wealth advisors. Is it a challenge to get them to think about what they’re doing as a business as well as a profession or a service? Or is that just something that comes more easily?
[00:06:53] Brad: I think you’re spot on, Sam. I think it’s also how you wind up in this role. Obviously, as a lawyer, you spend a lot more time in school to get to where you’re at. But I think what’s interesting is I think it’s similar with an attorney and with a financial advisor. It’s really surviving when you first start. It’s how do I start to fill the calendar with people that I can give my advice to that will pay for it. And what I find is a lot of the mentality, a lot of the things that put a glass ceiling on your practice are because you’re just constantly hunting. You’re hunting for new clients, right? I think probably attorneys, a lot of that are referral based. A lot of financial advisors, it’s the same way.
But when you actually start to view your firm and you basically step out of sales role or face-to-face attorney role, and you say, “I’m now officially the CEO of a company, how would I build this infrastructure to start to maximize revenue?” And when you start to see some of the things, we call them constraints, that are getting in the way of filling your calendar, and start to identify those and get the team members in place to take those things off your plate, that’s where we really start to see firms scale at a fast level.
[00:08:09] Sam: Interesting.
[00:08:07] Brad: So, I guess my tip there, just to clarify, would be view yourself even though you’re an attorney and even though that’s what you get paid for, view yourself as the CEO of a firm and view it through that lens and you’ll start to, I think, make some of those breakthroughs.
[00:08:19] Sam: Very cool. So, let me move over to what I am also really interested in talking about is kind of the interaction between estate planning lawyers specifically, but maybe more broader categories of practices like real estate and stuff, and financial planners and wealth advisors. A lot of the advice I hear being given to estate planning lawyers, in particular, is go make friends with financial planners because they can refer business to you. And so, I’m curious to hear you talk about what does that look like from the other side. How do financial planners and wealth advisors think about lawyers when it comes to building their own businesses or extending their own referral networks? How do lawyers come in?
[00:08:59] Brad: This is a little bit of a loaded question, but I’ll just answer it honestly.
[00:09:01] Sam: Let’s get all the loaded parts.
[00:09:02] Brad: I want to serve your audiences at the highest level I can. So, one of the biggest frustrations in a lot of financial advisors’ worlds are a good attorney relationship. Here, I’m just going to give you the financial advisor’s perspective that I’ve been hearing for the last decade. I send Joe attorney down the road, I send him 20 referrals a year and I get none back. I’m not a big fan of that. And it’s this code that most financial advisors have a really tough time cracking is why is this a one-way street? Why does it not come back the other way? We do have some guys that have cracked that code.
[00:09:39] Sam: Yeah.
[00:09:39] Brad: Go ahead, Sam.
[00:09:40] Sam: Well, let me get to the beginning of that. First of all, should I be calling financial advisors financial planners? Is that interchangeable? Does it matter?
[00:09:49] Brad: Yeah. I mean, essentially, I guess some of you define what I see as a financial advisor, 90% of our clients are securities licensed. So, either dealing with a broker-dealer or their own RIA, registered investment advisor, where they’re charging a fee to manage assets. And then, many of them are also doing insurance planning, which is going to be life insurance and annuities for retirees, building a portfolio, or a financial plan. Some guys sell those financial plans, some guys just get paid on the fees or the commissions on the other side and build their plans for free when people come onboard.
[00:10:23] Sam: Got you.
[00:10:23] Brad: So, that’s what I’m seeing.
[00:10:24] Sam: Okay. So, should I call those financial advisors or financial planners?
[00:10:29] Brad: Let’s go with advisors.
[00:10:30] Sam: Okay. Deal. So, let me back up to where we were after that digression. So, financial advisors need lawyers because their clients need to get things done and they need lawyers to get those things done, right? So, it’s not really a question they’re going to be sending business to lawyers?
[00:10:46] Brad: Very true.
[00:10:46] Sam: Or do they have alternatives?
[00:10:47] Brad: Well, I mean, I guess it depends. I think maybe this is the frustration for your audience. They don’t know what kind of financial advisor they’re dealing with and my guess is it’s a trust issue on the attorney’s side. So, I think the issue is they’re sales guys. I mean, there are people that are just straight selling for commission. There are people that are just managing assets, and I think what’s interesting where they found a niche with our clients is holistic independent advising. Maybe the best analogy I can make is they’re not working for a tool company and saying, “We just offer hammers. We specialize in hammers. Come in here. Buy your best hammer.” They’re working for Home Depot where if you want to build a home, they’ve got access to every single tool available on the marketplace. Based on the need or what the client wants, they’re now rummaging through the toolbox and saying, “We think these three tools put together in a cohesive plan are going to meet that need,” and give you a written plan for success.
So, to segue, where does the attorney come into that? Our very best advisors or our most holistic advisors and a solid financial plan should involve, obviously, financial planning but it’s also going to involve estate planning, and it’s also going to involve tax planning. So, really the best offices, the most successful offices we have is it’s a one-stop shop. The prospect wants to come in. They don’t want to drive across town to an attorney then leave there and have their trust documents, and now have to call their advisor and drive an hour across the other side of town, to then have them work on a trust document that they don’t even know how it works because they weren’t involved with the attorney that put it together. Oh, and then by the way, once that’s done, go drive over to the CPA’s office that’s another hour the other direction. What they would really prefer is go to one office, one cohesive plan, where all three parties interact and build a bulletproof plan that’s going to get them where they want to go.
[00:12:43] Sam: I feel like what I’m hearing underlying what you’re saying is that working with lawyers is actually a pain in the ass for financial advisors and it’s a very prominent pain in the ass. Like it’s something that they have to do and they have to figure out. It’s not just like a casual thing. It’s like this is a problem that we need to solve is how to have relationships with lawyers because your financial advisors need to serve their clients well and that means trying to deal with lawyers who are not easy to deal with it sounds like.
[00:13:08] Brad: I’ve seen it be the worst relationships. I’ve seen it be the best relationships. The guys that have cracked the code, it’s the most symbiotic mutually beneficial relationship you’ve ever seen.
[00:00:00] Sam: So, what does that look like? Say more about when someone has cracked the code what does the relationship look like.
[00:13:22] Brad: Well, a good example, one of our top clients on the East Coast. So, first off, it starts with the advisor. The advisor has to have a process so that’s one of the things we coach on a lot. And this I think also applies to attorneys, so this might be good advice here too.
[00:13:40] Sam: We talk a lot about process, absolutely.
[00:13:41] Brad: Okay. Good.
[00:13:42] Sam: So, yeah. Same deal.
[00:13:42] Brad: So, in financial services, a lot of advisors struggle because they’re a commodity. I mean, that’s the truth. I think attorneys, a lot of them are commodities. It’s like I can go get my estate plan anywhere I want. The ones that truly rise above that and are the only answer in town are the ones that have a proprietary process specific to their firm. I’ll give you an example. In our world that might be, I’ve got the XYZ Retirement Blueprint. It’s our five-step process to take you from uncertainty and not being able to spend with confidence to a written income plan for success to get you to and through retirement. So, that might be the value proposition a financial advisor makes. We’ve simplified the complex. It’s a five-step process. You come and meet with us, we ask you a lot of questions, and we start to custom build the plan that’s going to fit you.
Now, going back to where I’ve seen this work really well. A financial advisory office that has this, so they have a very clear plan and a very clear process they take their clients through. Once again, back to what is a successful financial plan, two of their five worlds both involve attorneys. So, one is the tax planning aspect. So, they do income planning, they do investment planning. World number three for them is tax planning. World number five is legacy and estate planning. So, they actually got this to such a level they recruited an attorney that offices in their office. And now when it gets to step five, it’s walk across the hallway and let Mr. Attorney finish up step five of your financial plan. So, it’s just a referral back and forth relationship where he’s actually integrated right into their process.
[00:15:18] Sam: Got you. Okay. Brad, so you make it sound like the ones who really crack the code are even in the same building with the lawyers, so that from the client’s perspective they’re basically working with one entity. Is that right?
[00:15:30] Brad: In this particular case that I’m referencing, yes. Not always. So, actually, most times not, at which goes back to the frustration from us financial advisors. The frustration is they might send referrals. I find most of them have their guy, their attorney that they send most of their estate planning because they trust them, they build a good plan. But what typically happens is that tends to be short-lived if it’s a one-way street. So, if I sent this guy 20 referrals, he didn’t send me one back at all last year. I’m going to go down the street to his competitor. I’m going to start to send him referrals. Now if he starts to reciprocate, now that’s a relationship that starts to go down that path that we’re talking about.
[00:16:12] Sam: Well, it sounds like part of what’s going on here, if I’m catching what’s underlying it is too, you’re treating the lawyers that you work with as if they’re a part of the same culture that’s governed by the same mission and values that you’ve built your financial advising firm on and you’re looking for lawyers who are willing to integrate and participate in that same environment.
[00:16:34] Brad: Yeah. And now that I just really think about this, I think the biggest issue, Sam, is most attorneys, at least the ones that I’ve heard stories on through our clients, is I think a lot of attorneys just don’t market. And so, maybe they don’t have the referrals to be able to send back because maybe all of their work, their business flow, or their client flow I should say, is coming through relationships like this which is, hey I get five referrals from this advisor, five from this one, five from this one. And I obviously can’t send this financial advisor over to this other financial advisor. I can’t obviously cross-refer there.
[00:17:08] Sam: Well, I think another piece of it might be that a lot of lawyers don’t have the kind of systems that it sounds like financial advisors, at least some of the more successful ones that you’re working with, are building. If you have a highly systematic financial advising practice and you try to work with a lawyer who doesn’t have any systems in place and is just flying by the seat of their pants, that’s just a bad fit. And maybe one indication of it is that there are no referrals coming back the other way, but my guess is that client service is not up to standards either.
[00:17:39] Brad: That’s a huge part of it. Yeah, Sam. So, basically, if I’m a financial advisor and I’m sending somebody referrals and then I check in a week later and nothing’s happened, yeah, massive issues there.
[00:17:49] Sam: Which is interesting because we absolutely try to teach lawyers the importance of having systems and having a proven or proprietary or whatever process, a way of delivering a level of client service that is predictable and is going to get you your high net promoter scores and things like that. But a lot of lawyers aren’t. A lot of lawyers are not at that level yet. And so, I guess, maybe part of it is following the same sort of process in looking for referrals in both directions as you would in hiring. You look for somebody who really fits into the kind of mold that you’re trying to mold your own company into.
[00:18:25] Brad: I’m curious. How big is the actual client experience for a lot of attorneys that are either listening to the show or maybe you guys have interacted with over the years? Is that a big focus?
[00:18:37] Sam: Wait a second, this is my podcast.
[00:18:40] Brad: I’m curious because I might have some insight here that could help, I don’t know.
[00:18:43] Sam: No, I think client experience is just beginning to be the kind of focal point for lawyers. I think a lot of lawyers are still waking up to the idea that they’re running a business, not just a professional services firm. I think lawyers who already know they’re running a business, and a lot of the lawyers hopefully who are listening to this understand that there is such a thing as client experience. And it’s different from the paternalistic idea of we tell clients what they need, and then we give it to them on our own terms in the way that we think is best. Which is a very, very different mentality from trying to design a client experience to really enhance the relationship and deliver consistent quality, and consistent satisfaction, those sorts of things. So, I think it’s a newer concept for many lawyers, but I think a lot of lawyers who come to our conference, TBD law, men who’ve joined The Lawyerist Insider are the kind of lawyers who get that and are thinking beyond just their professional obligations, or just a straight up paternalistic idea of, “I’m going to give you the legal results that you need,” and that’s it.
[00:19:48] Brad: I might have some insight there. I mean, if we’re talking about referrals, one of the biggest leverage points I’ve found there is what is your actual client experience. What’s that life cycle look like where people are just raving about you? So, if you want me to go in there, I could definitely share some things that I’ve seen some of our advisors do that really stand out and keep them from being that commoditized. I can go see a financial advisor on every single street corner.
[00:20:12] Sam: Yeah. I’d like to hear more about that because I think there’s some parallel there. I’m also interested to know if the concept of net promoter score is making end roads in the financial advising world because that’s something that we talk about a lot with lawyers, the importance of measuring client satisfaction in a simple way, but also in a really effective way.
[00:20:31] Brad: So, on the net promoter, almost non-existent. I think it’s brilliant. I mean, why wouldn’t you ask people how their experience was with you, right? And if they would tell other people about it. So, that’s something that I’ll take from this conversation. I think that’s huge. I think we’ve had a couple of things for me over the last 10 years that have been huge is starting to look at, one of my favorite phrases is, “You can’t always outspend your competition, but you can out experience them.” I think even just getting started if you’re a solo practitioner you can still do a lot of that cool stuff. There’s a friend of mine, Joey Coleman, he was actually at the same conference that Aaron and I were at, Mastermind Talks. He’s got a concept called The First 100 Days. Just high-level, go check out, he’s actually writing a book, so that will be coming out and whoever wants can read that. But, high-level, when they really dug in, they found that the experience in the first 100 days of any business really dictates whether or not that client will be with you five years later.
So, as long as you get the first 100 days right, they’ll almost always be with you five years later. Some of the cool things a lot of our clients have done, as you walk into the office, the reception area, and you want that to feel just like any other high net worth experience so like a country club experience, a Mercedes Benz dealership, Ritz Carlton type of experience so some simple things that anyone can do.
[00:21:52] Sam: Or at least a deliberate experience that’s tailored to the kinds of clients that you want to have.
[00:21:57] Brad: Exactly. Yeah. So, if you’re a niche like I only want to work with 30-year-old males, probably set it up like a sports bar in a lounge, right?
[00:22:06] Sam: But, if you typically work with low-income people, the Ritz Carlton might not be the right feel for your firm. Or it might be, I don’t know.
[00:22:14] Brad: Great point. It might be all virtual. Who knows? Some simple things though, and I guess if I’m off base here we can send the conversation the other direction but have a drink menu. So, when somebody sits down, we call it a Director of First Impressions, they come out from behind the desk, “Mr. Jones, would you like the Americano like last time? Or would you like to switch it up? Here’s the hot drinks on this side, cold drinks on the other. Fresh baked cookies.” Just like creating a very welcoming, warm experience where they’re cool to hang out there and actually enjoy their time. There are all kinds of things that you can go from there. But having a very intentional first 100 days where it’s also follow-up, personal video, emails, things like BombBomb.com where you can actually send a personal video, “Hey, had a great time in the first appointment. It was great to connect. Just so you know, our team’s working on building out that estate plan that we talked about. You’ll hear from us in the next couple of days.”
[00:23:04] Sam: Yeah. You’re talking about having a coherent client experience that you’re trying to create, which is probably if you have written a mission and values for your company, your firm is probably one of them. Then when you think about what do we want the waiting room experience to be like, what do we want the website experience to be like, you refer to that customer experience and that informs the decisions that you make. Absolutely. That makes a ton of sense and it’s something that I think lawyers who are sort of woke to the current and future direction of business and law practice are thinking about that. It’s huge, I think. It’s having a branded definite customer experience. Client experience is a really important thing.
[00:23:44] Brad: I’ve got one other that could be, I think, really huge for your audience but I want to make sure it’s compliant. Obviously, we deal with a lot of that in financial services. So, do attorneys have gifting limits just like financial advisors do?
[00:23:56] Sam: Gifting is – yes. I mean, there are some restrictions on what lawyers can do to give gifts to each other and to clients but there is some flexibility for sure.
[00:24:06] Brad: So, one that we have complied, I’m guessing that it’s very stringent just like your guys’ industry, but a simple one, another guy, John Ruhlin, wrote a book called Giftology and it’s how do you intentionally gift something and make this part of that first 100 days experience, right? And let’s say you met with a family that now you’re building an estate plan that should last generations hopefully. So, a thoughtful gift, maybe it’s at the completion of that, we do a lot of high-end cutlery where it says on the blade, “Handcrafted for the Family of Brad and Sarah Johnson.” So, you could deliver that with the actual finished trust and say, with a personal handwritten note that says something to the effect of, “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, I just wanted to write you a thank you note for…” I mean, this is a little corny, but you can go whatever direction you want with this for, “Carving out the time.” Granted, it might be too corny for some people, but I’m just giving you some ideas.
[00:25:04] Sam: Sure.
[00:25:04] Brad: “For carving out the time to sit down with us and craft a document that will influence your family for generations. We wanted to bestow this high-end piece of cutlery to create amazing family experiences around the kitchen table for generations to come. It’s been an honor serving you.” Something like that, but now you’re like, where do you entertain? The kitchen. You’re using the cutlery every day, right? “Who gave that to you?” “Oh, that’s actually my attorney, Sam. Yeah, he’s amazing to work with.” Creating those conversations that keep going after the work is done.
[00:25:39] Sam: Gifts are a big thing, and being able to say thank you, and delivering something. A friend of ours, Matt Holman, has talked about what’s more valuable, a $10 teddy bear or a $5.00 teddy bear, or a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks? It’s the $5.00 teddy bear, especially if you give it to a client whose kid came in and you’ve given the kid a $10 teddy bear. That’s worth way more than the gift certificate, even though they’re the same value. But we’ve also talked with a receptionist company, and I think people will just have heard a sponsored segment about them, but they have built a culture of giving into the company and everyone there has an allowance and they can just go on Amazon and buy gifts for people to say thank you.
Or because while answering the phone, they’ve uncovered evidence of a life change that maybe calls for a gift. I think that’s huge if you can get it right, or if you can imbue your firm with the culture of gift giving. Especially because like if somebody has just made you $5,000, spend $50 on them, you know? You can do that. As long as you can ethically do that, it’s totally worth saying thank you in a meaningful way.
[00:26:49] Brad: Yeah, that’s huge.
[00:26:50] Sam: Let me see if I can tie this up and bring us back a little bit towards where we started. Financial advisors struggle to work with lawyers. And some of that, it sounds like to me, is because when there’s a culture mismatch, when you’ve got a financial advisor that is building in systems and trying to create a client experience and a lawyer isn’t, it’s really hard for the two of them to work together in a way that’s going to bring satisfaction to the two firms, but also to the client that’s going back and forth. And lawyers who want to take advantage of referrals from financial advisors it sounds like should be doing some of the same things. In order to do that, they should be saying thank you. They should have a culture of client experience, but maybe referral experience as well. Does that make sense?
[00:27:36] Brad: Yeah. I think just have them thank you. So, think about it this way. I mean, I don’t know what an estate plan is worth to an office in a lawyer’s office, guessing it’s decent money. It’s amazing how many financial advisors will literally send an attorney 20 referrals and nothing back. Not a thank you. It’s just almost like, “Okay. Cool, yeah, we’ll process the paperwork.” So, if you look at the free revenue, basically walking in the door from that relationship, almost treating them like one of your most beneficial vendors because they truly are. So, at the least thank you and take them out to lunch maybe once a month or something.
But, I think, like if you really wanted to nail down that source of revenue for your firm is getting strategic and saying, “Hey, Mr. Advisor, number one, I just want to say thank you for all of the business you’ve been sending our way. It shows that you trust us at a high level to refer your clients over to us. I’m curious, what could we be doing on our side to make this a win-win both ways? How could we integrate into your planning model to make this super seamless for your client base?”
[00:28:43] Sam: And we’re not talking about sharing revenue. We’re talking about trying to help your referral source make more referrals by giving them something that they can depend on and by making sure that, if nothing else, they’re satisfied with what their clients get when they come to you.
[00:28:57] Brad: Yeah, and what’s interesting is some of those relationships have evolved into a sharing of revenue where the trust factor has gotten so high. Just like that story I was telling a little while back, one of our top clients. The trust factor got so high, that attorney has literally integrated into their business model now and does share some revenue. So, a whole another revenue source that wasn’t even coming in for that attorney is now coming in because of that relationship getting to such a high trust level.
[00:29:24] Sam: Very cool. So, if there’s one thing you could say to lawyers, what’s the thing you’ve been dying to say to lawyers who have been frustrating you and your clients over the years? Go ahead, let it out.
[00:29:33] Brad: So, I’m going to stir up this whole pot of attorneys.
[00:29:36] Sam: No, no, let it out.
[00:29:37] Brad: That’s like the worst group that you ever want to offend.
[00:29:39] Sam: We can take it.
[00:29:41] Brad: I would just say two things. So, first, recognize that for many of you, this is an amazing revenue stream that literally you don’t have to work that hard for to just basically open up the floodgates for financial advisors in your market to send you lots and lots of business because they are having to market and every single one of their clients need an estate plan. So, that would be the first thing, is just recognize that it’s a free pile of money just sitting right there in front of you that all you have to do is bend over and pick it up, assuming you just are thoughtful about it.
Number two, once you identify those key people in your marketplace, start thinking about them a little bit more in saying, “Hey, this is a good relationship we’ve got going here. Just like a marriage, how could we make this more beneficial for both parties? Are there some things both firms could be doing to make it more seamless for the clients we’re serving?” Which is a win for you because you keep clients longer from an attorney standpoint, it’s a win for the financial advisor as well.
[00:30:42] Sam: I’m just going to try to wrap us up with one thing that I have heard from lawyers. I’ve heard estate planning lawyers say, “Sure. I get a bunch of referrals from financial advisors, but they rarely complete their estate plan or they don’t do it in a timely way or whatever.” They’re bad referrals, in other words, is basically what I’ve heard. The admonishment that I would make to those lawyers is that that’s on you. You need to figure out how to close those referrals and convert them into paying clients. And I think if a financial advisor is sending you clients and they’re not getting their estate planning done, then I think they’re probably going to start sending that business elsewhere.
[00:31:20] Brad: Sam, I’m glad you said that in passing because you just uncovered something that’s massive there. So, going back to this relationship where it’s working to the highest level I’ve ever seen, one of the benefits that this financial services firm does for that attorney, they actually have a full-time staff member that re-titles asset. So, once that trust work is done, they go back over to the financial advisor’s office, they sit down with one of their staff members, they go through all of those bank accounts and everything that needs to be re-titled and they actually put that in place where that’s part of the process. So, it actually covers both parties at a much higher level, because obviously one of the biggest risks for an attorney is you build this amazing estate plan and then nothing ever happens with it because none of the assets get re-titled.
[00:32:04] Sam: Yeah. I mean, that makes a ton of sense, right? Leverage the relationship the financial advisor already has to make sure that the consumer gets the work done on your end once they come to you.
[00:32:14] Brad: Yeah. I mean, for an attorney what better thing to have a free employee that re-titles all of your clients’ assets to fund your trusts and you don’t have to do anything other than find the right financial advisor that’s willing to do the work. That might be a good question out there for attorneys looking to establish that relationship because as long as the referrals are coming back the other way from the attorney, I’m going to venture to say most financial advisors would sign up for that deal in a heartbeat.
[00:32:41] Sam: Well, and if it’s not obvious enough by this point, relationships, relationships, relationships, right? Build relationships with the financial advisor, or with anybody in your network, with anybody in your referral network who is sending you business and figure out how to do a better job of serving those clients, but also of working with them to expand that and giving them what they need in return. I really hate the idea of a purely transactional relationship, I will send you business, you send me business, but that should be a part of it. And so, figuring out how to make that work by focusing on the relationship first, I think, is a really important thing. So, build those relationships. And lawyers, if people are sending you business, my God, say thanks. If nothing else, say thanks.
[00:33:27] Brad: It’s the simple advice sometimes, Sam.
[00:33:29] Sam: Yeah. Well, Brad, thank you so much for being with us today and for the insight into the side of the estate planning relationship that is the financial advisor. But also, I think there’s a lot of information for lawyers to learn from the way financial advisors build their practices, which sounds very similar in some ways the way lawyers do and where they need to be focused. So, thanks a lot for being with us today.
[00:33:49] Brad: Thanks, Sam. It’s been fun.
[00:33:52] Brad: Thanks for checking out the latest show. Here’s this week’s featured review. This one comes to us from user Team 46&2 who says, “Game-changing practices. With 25 years in the business, this is the best I have seen. Out of the box thinking with modern day influencers, wow what a combo. If you want to be the best, don’t miss these podcasts.” Thanks for the review. Team 46&2, I’m humbled by all the kind words and positive feedback I continue to get from you all on the show and I’ll do my best to keep getting content out there that serves all of you in financial services.
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One last thing. Before you go, don’t forget to grab the free downloadable guide we built that shows you exactly how to put this episode’s content into action by partnering with a local estate planning attorney. Go download the Estate Planning Attorney Referral Blueprint at BradleyJohnson.com/37. It’s available right at the top of the show notes. So, that’s it for this week. Thanks for listening and I will catch you all on the next show.
[00:35:29] Brad: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint. For access to show notes, transcripts and exclusive content from our show’s guests, visit BradleyJohnson.com. And before you go, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you’re liking the podcast, you can help support the show by leaving your rating and review on iTunes. Not only do we read every single comment, but this will help the show rank and get discovered by new listeners. It really does help. Thanks again for joining and be sure to tune in next week for another episode.
The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties that have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Advisors Excel. The guest speaker is not affiliated with or sponsored by Advisors Excel. For financial professional use only. Not to be used with the general public or in a sale situation.