When Centers-of-Influence Don?t Refer Clients

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Everyone tells me I can sell more through relationships with attorneys and accountants. I have some that I know well. I refer to them, but they don’t reciprocate. What am I doing wrong?

Carl T., Dayton Ohio

Dear Carl,

Your question might not be “what are you doing wrong,” but, rather “are you working with the right centers-of-influence (COIs) in the first place?”

When the fit is good, strategic partnerships make a great deal of sense for business growth. Someone who is working with wealthy people in a different capacity might have those people ask for advice about a financial planner or investment professional. This is a goldmine if the relationship is right.

I often find, however, that advisors don’t approach their COIs as strategic partners. There can be the misperception that if you send a client to them, they should remember you and try to identify where they can do the same.

It doesn’t work this way.

You have to treat a strategic partner like any other prospect. You have to cultivate the relationship; take the time to ensure they know your story and what you do well and differently. You have to communicate with them on an ongoing basis and show them – clearly – how you add value for their clients.

Like you, COIs are busy running their practice. While you may be good at what you do, and they may even like you, you are not naturally top-of-mind to them on a day-to-day basis. It’s your job to find ways to stay top-of-mind. Make sure you listen, fully understand and appreciate their business and their clientele, and that you convey over and over to them how you can help their clients and them.

Don’t assume they know where you might fit in. Don’t assume that because you once handed them a brochure they know what you do. These are relationships that need to be nurtured over time. When you do that and become a true “partner,” you will see better receptivity and results.

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