How to find wealthy clients: 5 tips for financial advisors

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An overwhelming question faced by financial advisors is how to find wealthy clients, because most of you developed your business through referrals. Here are 5 ways for financial advisors to attract rich clients.

But before we get into it, for those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and I used to be a financial advisor. I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics which is best described as “fun and irreverent.”

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Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an irreverent and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

#1 Your existing clients

So many people sit there saying, “How do I market myself as a financial advisor?” The best answer is actually right there in front of you.

Your clients.

The reason that I put this first is that many advisors overlook this. If you’re an established advisor with 100-200 clients, this is your power base. Let’s say you deepened your relationship with these clients, and from each of those relationships you met just one person who was a qualified prospect. You’d have 100 new prospects.

Do you know the heavy lifting required to generate 100 qualified prospects from scratch?

If you are ignoring the opportunity to deepen your relationship with existing clients and get to know their networks better, you are essentially level setting yourself with someone who is new to the business and has no clients.

Why would you do that? You’re taking away your own power.

I’m not saying go to all your clients with the sorry old line, “Please don’t hesitate to pass on my information to anyone you think I can help.” It’s out of context and moreover it asks so much for them to draw up these names out of thin air.

How would you feel if I said this to you:

I recently rescued two stray cats from the alley next to my apartment. Do you know of anyone in NYC who wants to adopt a Tuxedo cat?

It’s an overwhelming question. Here’s why.

The mental energy required to run through your mental Rolodex is immense. Most people won’t do it. Because they can’t do it, because our minds don’t work that way. We can’t scan a database in our minds like scanning an Excel sheet. We don’t work like computers and it’s ridiculous to ask someone to by asking them for a referral this way!

-Sara G

I’ll discuss how to find wealthy clients by using LinkedIn to build connections with your second degree network associated with your clients later in this blog.

Other ways you can deepen relationships with clients are:

  • Monthly webinar
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Calling on their birthdays
  • Calling randomly to say hello
  • Sending them a referral if they own a business, or support their business in other ways
  • Other helpful actions that are unsolicited and thoughtful
  • Getting jointly involved with the organizations they are (book clubs, civic groups, non profits)

Now, of course you have to do this the right way and not putting out pitches right and left. Be an addition to their lives outside of the scope of your work relationship in a natural way that is comfortable for them, and that they appreciate. Social media can be a great tool to use for you to observe them and understand what their interests are.

#2 Charity events and volunteering

Getting involved with a charity you are passionate about it beautiful. People are at their best when they are giving to others. They’ll see your human side first and are less likely to think of you as a yucky, awful financial advisor because you’ve made such a good first impression. If you are a financial advisor looking to attract clients, focus on attracting people to you first and the client part will eventually take care of itself if you strategically arrange it correctly.

When I was a financial advisor, I met a lot of people through charity events and many of them were qualified prospects. The founders and board of directors of a charity (who probably donate to it) are more likely to have money than just the random volunteers.

Also consider following the charity on social media and meeting people in the feed. Comment on the posts. Don’t just give it a “whoo hoo”; rather, make meaningful, thought provoking insights. That is a big part of how to find wealthy clients using LinkedIn.

If you’re calling on endowments, foundations, and non profits, by the way, it would make sense to actually go to their events every so often. Show them you actually believe in the cause.  

#3 Rich activities

If you are wondering how to find wealthy clients by in person events. here’s an old idea with a new twist.

Once I went to this group fashion event, it was like an inside tour of the fashion district in Manhattan. I got all dressed up classy with a nice pursue, nice shoes, etc. I was kind of playing the status game a little bit which I am not so much into now. However at that point in life, I was a little bit more superficial than I am now. Shame on me, I was playing the game…however, my fly outfit did seem to work.

When I got to the event, all I did was focus on having engaging conversations with people in the group who seemed professional. Of course, during these conversations it naturally came up that I helped people with their money although I didn’t go on and on about it or hand out my business card.

Ding ding ding.

During the event, one person mentioned to me that she wanted me to take a look at her portfolio. She became a client.

I also was a member of the Harvard Club for several years which was naturally a good environment for socializing. One guy approached me after he heard me on the phone talking to someone about finance, and he also became a client.

My suggestion is to pick activities that rich people do, and then go to each event with the goal of meeting three new people and having a meaningful conversation with them. Don’t pitch, just understand them and listen to what their experiences are in life. Then at the end tell them you want to connect on social media to stay in touch.

-Sara G

#4 Facebook groups

Facebook groups are a great way to become part of a virtual community. Some of these groups are really active and vibrant. Here’s an idea for how to find wealthy clients on Facebook.

When I had my first baby (I have four now), I was nuts over safety. A certified lunatic. We went through five daycares because every single one, I would find something wrong. There was one where they didn’t have air conditioning and when I went to pick her up she was sweating, so I took her out and found another daycare.


Luckily by kid #4 I became far less paranoid.

What I’m getting at is that the support of the Facebook community was invaluable because I was so voracious for information at that point in my life. I met so many affluent parents through our local parents groups on Facebook where we would exchange tips and advice, and baby clothes/toys, etc. You’d have to join as an insider though, not an outside/yucky financial advisor.

Pick a group where you’re part of the community. For example, if you golf, join a golf group and start posting about how the golf course was wet today and you couldn’t golf, and why don’t they do better cleaning up the courses at this or that club, etc. What I’m saying is be authentically a part of the community instead of trying to get everyone to hand over their financial statements and discuss a Roth conversion!

Similarly, I have a child with autism and through a special needs children’s group I met a lawyer that I need to help me handling suing the DOE. I actually ended up not suing them. But I did actually meet a lawyer through this forum because he was answering my questions I posted, and I had a lot of the, and he eventually asked me if I wanted to meet with him. You could do the same in a Facebook group of your choosing.

#5 How to find wealthy clients on LinkedIn

Nobody believes it can be done, but many financial advisors could build a business very nicely from just their second degree connections on LinkedIn. But if you’re open to it, here is how to find wealthy clients on LinkedIn.

The best analogy for this is a process I am considering trademarking as “The Grillo LinkedIn Cat Method.” There is application to the question of how to attract affluent customers on LinkedIn, just hang with me.

When Antonio, the kids, and I would go out, we would always see these two stray Tuxedo cats in our neighborhood. Here they are, Moonshine and Sunshine.

Here are two tuxedo cats under a bathroom sink.

They would hang out in front of a nearby building. One day we’re walking by, and this woman comes out and says we have to take the cats home because if we don’t, the landlord is going to call the shelter to take them. It was a kill shelter, meaning if nobody adopts the cats then they get euthanized.

I’m not really an “animal person.”

Kids, yes.

Cats, no.

So the woman says this, and before I can respond and say “no,” what do I hear? A meowing sound. Only it wasn’t the cats, it wasn’t Antonio who meows out, “We’ll take the cats!”

Well, what am I supposed to do at that point? I couldn’t just walk away. I agreed to take the cats temporarily until the animal rescue could find them a forever home. We call up a cat rescue organization and get a carrier, and take the male cat (Moonshine) home. (Later we ended up going back for Sunshine).

I couldn’t get him out of the carrier. He was trembling and scared, so I didn’t touch him. I put some water and food in the bathroom, left the door open to the carrier, shut the door to the bathroom, and went to bed.

The next morning I get up and in the bathroom there’s an empty carrier! Then I see Moonshine lying in the bathtub looking up at me.

But, he still didn’t want to get patted. I didn’t force it on him. However I did have to socialize him a bit, to teach him to trust me. I started going into the bathroom every few hours, and just sitting there. Didn’t pat, didn’t talk, didn’t even look at him. I sat there on and did my work on my laptop.

I would turn my back and work on my laptop outside the bathroom. And eventually he came out.

The practical applications to LinkedIn are:

#1 The first action should be a small action. Say hello, like I said hello to Moonshine.

It doesn’t have to be this grandiose thing like you all try to get the meeting on the first message. “Here me. I’m so virtuous! I’m so smart! What are your needs? Here’s what I do!” Blah blah blah.

You’re going to get scratched or bitten by the scared animal you are forcing yourself on!

Here’s a book I wrote that teaches financial advisors what to say on LinkedIn messenger.

This is a book about financial advisor LinkedIn messages which contains scripts you can use to get new prospects.

#2 Let them observe you before you approach them

How do you attract rich people to you on LinkedIn? Everybody thinks of LinkedIn in terms of the direct responses you get. Yet I hear all the time from people who finally connect with me after seeing me over and over again in their feed.

Or, people who have been connected with me for years who finally comment on something I posted, or send me a message that they want to work together. Remember that people are always observing you, even if they don’t tell you they are.

There is a technical way to get more visibility on your posts and it has to do with timing of engagement. I teach this in my membership.

When you move too fast through messaging, you deprive your prospect of the ability to get to know you over time through messages intertwined with postings. The latter is a more gradual and natural approach that people are generally more comfortable with.

Just because they aren’t saying anything doesn’t mean they aren’t observing.

I would sometimes notice out of the corner of my eye that Moonshine didn’t want to come close to me, but he would kind of follow me around. Therein lies a big lesson about how to find wealthy clients.

#3 Make careful observations of them before you approach them

I noticed that when I would go into the kitchen to get something to eat, he would follow me. Especially when I would crinkle a bag, his mouth would move. Then I knew he was hungry and I had to feed him. This was a critical part of establish the bond.

Don’t be ignorant of the signs you are getting from your prospect. Observe carefully.

If I didn’t observe Moonie’s body language, I would have wasted so much food trying to feed him when he wasn’t hungry.

When you are talking to someone on LinkedIn messenger, you may be getting signs that it is the correct moment to ask the question. Or you may be getting signs that they’re not ready yet. Signs they are ready include use of emojis, question marks, exclamation points. This is strong communication. Signs they are not ready include one or two word responses, blatantly ignoring you, avoiding talking about themselves, not responding to your questions.

Use your powers of observation, folks.

Go to your LinkedIn messenger right now and look at the messages you’re getting. What would you rate the engagement level on 1-5? You’ll notice there are certain characteristics in common with the ones who are engaging and those who aren’t.

#4 Let a cat be a cat

Just like I let Moonshine be who he was so that the transition was natural, you can’t take people over on LinkedIn, either. You’ve got to blend. You’ve got to look at what they’re naturally feeling, where they are coming from, what their experiences are in life, who they are.

Once you figure that out, then you are in a position to know it you should proceed or not. Just like I shut the door to the bathroom to leave Moonie alone, sometimes the right move is to step away for a month or two. Sprinkel a polite message here or there but let it go for a while and in the meantime they can observe you in the fed (doing awesome, getting tons of visibility and being the center of activity never looks bad, by the way – again, join my membership to learn how).

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. It isn’t forceful, it doesn’t try to make people into what you need them to be but rather more of who they naturally are and want to grow into. It’s not rushed but it comes at just the right time. It doesn’t go by your schedule but by the natural rhythm of the vibe.

Observe and get a sense of who they are and judge what actions to take accordingly.

Sara’s upshot on how to find wealthy clients

What’d ya think? Was this helpful?

If yes…

Learn what to say to prospects on social media messenger apps without sounding like a washing machine salesperson. This e-book contains 47 financial advisor LinkedIn messages, sequences, and scripts, and they are all two sentences or less.

This is a book about financial advisor LinkedIn messages which contains scripts you can use to get new prospects.

You could also consider my financial advisor social media membership which teaches financial advisors how to get new clients and leads from LinkedIn.

The Sara Grillo membership is a social media program for financial advisors - but only the cool ones.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll at least join my weekly newsletter about financial advisor lead generation.

See you in the next one!

-Sara G

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