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Guest blog – Nigel Ruff: Generating new referrals

Over the past few months, we’ve written a lot about the reasons why advisers and planners don’t generate more referrals. In our article: The dirty dozen: 12 reasons why you aren’t getting more referrals we identified that from time to time a poor client experience might be one of the reasons.

We are working with Trailblazer Tracking who have developed an app to help advisers and planners monitor the ongoing service they deliver. Originally intended as a compliance tool, I firmly believe it will help the advisers and planners who adopt it to deliver great service and therefore attract more referrals.

We’ve therefore asked Nigel Ruff, founder of Trailblazer Tracking to explain more.

Over to Nigel:

Generating new referrals

I’ve worked as a financial adviser for more years than I care to remember. Right from way back in the early days in this profession I’ve had it drummed into me that referrals are the best way of generating new client enquiries. Despite modern marketing techniques, that’s hard to argue with:

  • Referrals usually have an immediate need for advice
  • They will have already heard good things about the adviser and are, therefore, ‘presold’ on engaging with them
  • The conversion rate for referrals is usually higher than from other types of marketing. That means being able to spend less time and money on marketing and enquiry generation

If the reasons why referrals make the best type of new client enquiry haven’t changed, the methods for attracting them have. Thinking has developed, and I’m delighted that some of the more ‘old school’ techniques no longer have a place in our profession. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is my fundamental belief that the advisers who deliver the best service will generate the most referrals.

It’s something we focus on doing in the advisory firm where I am Executive Director and is one of the reasons we developed the Trailblazer app. Something we are now taking to market and making commercially available.

To provide some background and context if you have not yet seen the app, it is designed to work alongside your back-office system and was initially developed to prove compliance in three core areas:

  1. MiFID II: Where it helps advisers, firms and networks demonstrate that annual suitability assessments have been completed.
  2. Ongoing servicing: Again, proving that the service a client is paying for has been delivered.
  3. CPD: Helping advisers to contemporaneously record CPD and easily demonstrate that they have completed the required amount each year.

You don’t need me to tell you that non-compliance lead to multiple sanctions being imposed on an adviser, their firm or network. Nevertheless, we know all three of the above have proved problematic, especially where:

  • Spans of control are wide, particularly in networks or larger firms
  • Advisers are spread over a significant geographical area
  • Much of the work to comply, whether meeting clients for periodic reviews or attending training events, happens away from the office

The Trailblazer app was designed to solve these problems.

It provides a convenient, multi-device (desktop, mobile and tablet), standalone system to meet these challenges, delivering high-quality management information to prove compliance and showing the action which needs to be taken.

However, it’s not all about compliance.

It’s a sad fact that delivering what you say you will do when you say you will do it, is enough to set your business apart from others these days. That’s more than enough for your client to be happy and never think about going elsewhere for advice. But, regularly going the extra mile to genuinely impress and delight them, and you will turn a happy client into an advocate for your business.

It’s when they reach that advocacy stage that things start to get really exciting. Your clients will:

  • Be delighted to recommend you to others, because they know that you will change the lives of the people they refer to you just as you have theirs
  • Be happy to provide testimonials, write reviews or appear in videos for your website, in fact, nothing will be too much trouble because of the impact your advice and service has had on their lives
  • Support your business in other ways. A potential new client wants to chat to an existing client before engaging you; “no problem put them in touch”. You’re organising a client event and want them to bring guests; “sure thing, who should I invite?”. A client has a problem that you know another could solve; “how can I help, I’d be happy to chat with them”. You get the picture!

Naturally, it’s those advisers who deliver a truly great service, while addressing the other reasons why clients might not refer, who will be the most successful at generating referrals. For me though, it’s all built on the foundation of delivering a great service.

And that’s where the Trailblazer app can help. Sure, it’ll help you sleep at night, worrying less about the knock on the door from compliance or that interim inspection of your CPD records. But, by harnessing its power to deliver (and prove) great client service I passionately believe it’ll help turn clients into advocates.

To learn more about the Trailblazer app please click here.

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