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Forward Thinking Magazine : August 2010
24 Macquarie Adviser Services One firm that takes a strategic approach to referrals is Sentinel Wealth. Financial Strategist Vanessa Woodley says it’s all about ensuring the client’s approach to wealth creation matches the firm’s philosophy. “We take a holistic view and believe wealth encompasses more than just money. We spend a lot of time understanding what’s important to clients and ensuring the financial plan is aligned to those goals,” Woodley says. According to Woodley the most effective approach for generating referrals is to “first and foremost help clients and always act in their best interest. By demonstrating this, existing clients and other professionals naturally refer to clients to us. We also keep referrers informed of how the relationship is going with clients they have referred to us.” Woodley is also particular about the clients with which the firm works. She says, “some clients don’t want to have a conversation about their life goals, they just want investment advice. While we can offer that, it is not our unique value proposition. If we come across prospects like that we generally won’t take them on. We can’t be everything to everyone; it is about being clear about what we offer and who it is best suited to.” David Price is the Managing Director of financial planning business Strategy First. His business has an intriguing way of structuring the referral process. “We talk to clients at review meetings about the benefits of the referral system. It means we spend less time marketing, which means we can spend more time on them. It also gives us scale, another client benefit, and also means the firm is underpinned by like-minded clients,” Price says. To this end, clients are sent referral cards they can give to people in their network who would benefit from the firm’s services. “ We also send thank you letters to clients who send business our way and we also have a rewards program through which clients receive benefits such as bottles of wine and movie tickets when they refer us business,” he says. The business also has established relationships with accountants, lawyers and mortgage brokers. “It is about finding and fostering relationships,” says Price. “ We also ask new clients about their accountant’s details and ask whether they are happy for us to contact their accountant. Then we send the accountant a letter advising them we have a mutual client and asking whether we can share strategies, which ultimately helps the client.” If you can get your business planning processes right, including a well-developed strategy and proper succession planning, you’ll go a long way toward becoming a best practice firm. Liz McCarthy, Macquarie Practice Consulting