News article

How to get more referrals and recommendations: 7 lessons from our recent survey

What’s the best way for financial advisers and planners to generate new enquiries…

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Pay Per Click advertising (PPC)?

PR and awards?


Referrals and recommendations from existing clients should be top of the list.

We wanted to understand more about the approach financial advice/planning firms take when it comes to referrals and recommendations. So, earlier this year, we launched our 2023 Referral and Recommendation Survey.

Today, we’re revealing the results.

Thank you to our supporters

Before we go any further, we’d like to say a huge thank you to the 351 advisers/planners who completed the survey and the following organisations who also provided their support:

Right, now it’s time for the results and more importantly, a few lessons which’ll help you get more recommendations.

#1: Referrals and recommendations from existing clients are the best type of new enquiry

93.70% said they would rather have a recommendation from an existing client than an enquiry from any other source.

Unsurprisingly, we agree.

The lesson: Recommendations from existing clients are the best type of new enquiry because they have the highest conversion rate and the lowest cost of acquisition. Consequently, that’s where advisers/planners should initially focus their marketing efforts. Only look to other tactics when you’ve maximised the potential of existing clients.

#2: Almost all advisers/planners want more recommendations

95.44% of advisers/planners said they wanted to increase the number of recommendations they receive from existing clients.

Again, based on conversations we have every day, that’s no surprise.

The lesson: Advisers/planners who want more recommendations from existing clients must do three things:

  1. Deliver a service that people want to recommend
  2. Recognise that to increase your Recommendation Rate, you need to be proactive
  3. Develop a recommendation strategy based on client communication and appreciation.

#3: Despite wanting more, most advisers/planners aren’t having effective conversations with clients about recommendations

57% of advisers/planners said they regularly discuss referrals and recommendations with their clients. However, 85% of clients say their adviser/planner has never asked for a recommendation (Source: VouchedFor.)

Can they both be right?


The problem here is that advisers/planners are often nervous about discussing recommendations. Consequently, they have hurried conversations during which the client nods politely but then immediately forgets what’s been said.

The lesson: To work effectively, conversations about recommendations need to be detailed and held in dedicated time (either at the end of the review meeting or in a separate meeting).

Your aim with these conversations is to train/educate the client on three things:

  1. Who to recommend you to
  2. When to recommend you
  3. How to recommend you.

Even if you find them hard, you’ll never maximise the latent potential in your existing client bank without these conversations.

#4: Many advisers/planners don’t know if they are turning clients into advocates or active advocates

61.61% of advisers/planners haven’t run a client survey in the past two years, including 45.85% who have never run a survey.

We’ll admit, this shocked us. Nearly two-thirds of firms aren’t asking their client’s opinions on the service they receive. Plus, it means advisers/planners don’t know whether they’re turning clients into advocates and then active advocates.

The lesson: A client survey shows you’re listening and that you care. It’ll help improve your business while giving you stats you can use in your marketing. When it comes to recommendations (assuming you ask the right questions) your survey will show you:

  • The proportion of clients who are happy to recommend you (these are your advocates)
  • The proportion of clients who have recommended you in the past 12 months (your active advocates)
  • The barriers stopping people from recommending you.

Your survey (or VouchedFor’s Elevation product, if you use that) creates a baseline, helping you understand where you are now and the work you need to do. It’s a vital first step in developing a recommendation strategy.

Click here to understand more about how we help firms run client surveys.

#5: Firms are getting better at recording new enquiries

71.71% of the people who responded to our survey said that they record every new enquiry coming into their business.

That’s great news. We’re very happy about that!

The lesson: Every single enquiry you receive must be recorded. No exceptions.

That’s because you can only make evidence-based decisions about your marketing if you have the complete picture. Plus, you can’t nurture prospects who don’t immediately become clients if you’re not recording enquiries in the first place.

If you’re one of the 28.29% of advisers/planners who only record some enquiries or worse, none at all, click here to request a copy of our free enquiry recording template.

#6: Most advisers/planners could be more creative when they show clients how much they appreciate being recommended to other people

We asked advisers/planners to tell us how they say thank you to clients who recommend them.

Here’s what they said:

  • An email/phone call: 75.71%
  • Buy a gift: 23.71%
  • Post a thank you card: 12.29%
  • We don’t say thank-you: 7.14%
  • Make a charitable donation: 6.00%
  • Give vouchers: 5.43%
  • Other: 5.43%
  • Give a financial reward: 3.71%

The lesson: We can all be more creative than a call or email. It’s about finding ways to thank clients that’ll stand out while making them feel genuinely appreciated. There are many options here, however, our preference is to:

  • Send a handwritten and personalised thank you card when the recommendation is received. This is the classy option, that stands out more than a call or email and shows your clients that you’ve gone the extra mile (just as they have for you) to say thank you.
  • Send a personalised gift when the recommendation converts into a client: Again, it’s classy and unexpected. The value of the gift is less important than the personalisation.

We also like charitable schemes, where a donation is made every time a recommendation is received. This is already a long read, so we’ll explain more in a future blog.

#7: Most advice/planning firms aren’t doing enough to nurture prospects who don’t immediately become clients

Only 39.42% of advisers/planners who completed the survey send newsletters monthly or more frequently.

That’s not a surprise. But it is a problem.

The lesson: Prospects, including recommendations, who don’t immediately become clients, need to be nurtured until the time is right for them to engage. If you don’t nurture them:

  • Your conversion rates will fall
  • You’ll be operationally less efficient
  • You’re throwing away the money and time you invested in creating the prospect.

A monthly newsletter is the foundation of your nurturing strategy. It adds value, demonstrates your knowledge and positions you as the expert they go back to when the time’s right to engage.

We know some advice firms insist on sending quarterly newsletters, but (and we don’t say this lightly) they’re wrong. Click here to read the definitive guide to why you should send newsletters to your clients, prospects and professional connections every month.

Use our free scorecard to help you spot the gaps in your strategy

Click here to access our new scorecard to help you understand where the gaps are in your referral and recommendation strategy.

Just like all our other scorecards, it’s free to use. All you need to do is answer 18 simple questions in around five minutes, you’ll then get your personalised results sent to you immediately.

Then, if you’d like our help to develop a more effective strategy click here to email us or call the office on 0115 8965 300.

Stay in touch


Sign up to receive our hints, tips & ideas to improve your marketing.
As you’d expect, we’ll never pass your details to anyone else and if you don’t like what we have to say, you can unsubscribe at any time.