4 Creative Business Growth Ideas for RIAs

by HighTower Advisors on June 04, 2019

What are advisory groups doing to find new leads and jumpstart their growth?

At the 2019 HighTower Advisor Summit, CMO Abby Salameh moderated an engaging discussion on business development and growth. Panelists Alev Lewis of Acacia Wealth Advisors, Greg Sarian of Sarian Strategic Partners and Jeff Leventhal of HighTower Bethesda offered creative solutions to common RIA pain points.

Here are some key takeaways from their conversation:

1. Making the right hires.

Leventhal shared how his team’s decision to hire a Director of Financial Planning in 2015 was a pivotal moment in the direction of HighTower Bethesda’s business. The new hire allowed the group to deliver customizable financial planning for clients in a deeper, more comprehensive way.

When clients need to rethink their financial plans because of a change in circumstance, Leventhal’s team is now better equipped than ever to deliver exactly what they need – which has fueled the practice’s growth. “Because of the planning we do, our referral base has gone up significantly,” he said.

2. Leveraging client relationships and social media to find new leads.

When Greg Sarian wraps up a meeting with a client, he uses a strategy that both strengthens the existing relationship and helps him identify potential new clients.

“I like to rewind the tape and ask clients, of all the things we covered in our meeting, what was the most useful from their perspective,” said Sarian. This check-in allows clients to articulate their feelings, and helps the advisor better understand their needs.

Then, he asks the client who in their spheres may have similar needs and concerns, and the client often provides a list of people who could benefit from his financial advice.

Another way his team works to find leads? “We’re also big users of LinkedIn,” said Sarian.

By looking at a client’s first connections, Sarian’s group identifies individuals who, for instance, have recently started new jobs and might need an advisor’s help with managing issues such as equity compensation or new tax situations. When meeting with the client, Sarian mentions this need as a conversation-starter to ask if it’s OK for him to reach out.

3. Networking through doing good.

Lewis initiates and strengthens her team’s professional relationships by buying tables at fundraisers and inviting CPAs, attorneys, insurance advisors and potential clients to the event. “This provides them with a platform to network with each other as well as expand their spheres of influence along the way,” she said.

Greg Sarian also makes a concerted effort to get involved with some of the associations and trade groups in his area. “The way I think about networking is this: You’ve got to bring more to that relationship than your appetite. They meet tons of people like us, and there’s more of us than there are of them,” said Sarian. “So, what am I doing to create distinction…in their eyes? Every three or four months, I try to meet with a defined group of professionals and get to know them well.”

4. Nurturing business relationships (with brownies).

“We know the pain our CPA colleagues go through every year around tax time,” said Lewis. “So we send out care packages to them right at the beginning of April.” This thoughtful gesture helps to deepen Acacia’s working relationship with the CPAs and encourages business referrals in the future – so long as they’re sending chocolate.

“We’ve tried different things, sending healthy fruit packages and things like that, but the hit seems to be brownies,” laughed Lewis. “Chocolate and sugar is perfect at that time of the year.”

Want more tips, tricks and insider tidbits from the 2019 HighTower Advisor Summit? Just keep an eye on our blog! We’ll be posting here weekly throughout the summer with summaries of the most popular panels, presentations and keynote speeches.

# Abby Salameh Alev Lewis Annual Conference Business Growth Ideas Greg Sarian HighTower Advisor Summit Series Jeff Leventhal

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