Financial advisors looking to propel their business to the multi-million dollar level need to take one piece of advice from four female advisors who have already gotten there: learn when to turn new clients away.
Kelly Rigas, first vice president and financial advisor in the Private Client Group at RBC Wealth, says she regularly practices this a game with her team that she politely calls “Client Transition Friday.”
Every Friday, the team looks evaluates their clients, and decides which ones need to be fired, Rigas said. That could include a client who is calling for the fifth time this week about a dividend check missed or a restated 10-99, and either way the answer is the same.
“If the phone rings and you cringe, it’s time for that client to go. Life is too short, we’re too good at what we do,” Rigas told audience members at the Women Advisors Forum conference in Dallas on Tuesday. “There is a rookie out there, there is somebody else that will be really, really happy to serve that client.”
For Rigas and three other female financial advisors who spoke on a panel titled “The Multi-Million Dollar Women,” having a sense of when not to work with a client came after they had experience and had sufficiently defined their businesses.
Susan Riley-Hayes, a private wealth advisor at Ameriprise Financial, said that she felt she had really arrived when she was able to go into a meeting with a prospective client and recognize that that was not the client for her, she said.
“It wasn’t going to affect my paycheck,” Riley-Hayes said. “If it wasn’t the best fit for me and I wasn’t the best fit for them, then it was okay to just walk away.”
One other indicator of that success for Riley-Hayes was when the pressure came off closing a deal with a prospective client she did want to work with. When you connect with a client and share the same values and emotional perspective, that deal will close itself, she said.
Another measure of success for the multi-million dollar women advisors was when they nabbed that first big client, which then allowed them to usher in more clients to build their businesses.
For Lora Hoff, a wealth manager at Investment Plannners Inc. and IPI Wealth Management Inc., that moment came when a client who was initially referred to her for his 401(k) contacted her later for help when he was selling his business.
The sale process for that company, which Hoff said was in the $3 million to $4 million range, led her to take a meeting with several of its executives. Hoff, who was just about 32 at the time, said she had a moment when she felt intimidated by the situation, but knew she was giving the client sound advice. That successful transaction gave her more confidence, and that client gave her more referrals.
Lynn Faust, senior vice president, investments, at the Faust-Boyer Group at Raymond James & Associates, remembers how she rejected the routine of making calls from a phone book when first starting out at Paine Webber. Instead, she built her reputation as an expert outside of the firm by teaching college courses.
One of those classes led to an article in the local Sunday newspaper that Faust says she called her “multi-million dollar ad forever.” The day after the article was published, a new female client arrived in her office with a $500,000 check and another $500,000 of assets to be moved from another firm.
The experience helped Faust know that when she earned her way onto the Barron’s list of top advisors she had to also capitalize on that moment. This time, she hired a public relations firm that could serve as a third party vouching for her business.
Faust said that experience hold a lesson for other financial advisors looking to grow their businesses: get third-party endorsement.