Get a JAMMED full pipeline with these financial advisor referral tips!

Sign Up For Daily Newsletter: Receive one actionable marketing tip each DAY!

Here are some non-traditional ways to get referrals as a financial advisor.

But first…

For those of you who are new to my blog, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and financial advisor marketing consultant. I have a newsletter in which I send you one actionable, practical marketing tip a day. Please sign up here!

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.

Referrals are about appreciation.

Last week somebody ripped me off and I had to file a fraud report with my bank, get a new account, etc. You know draining and tedious this is.

At the end of the conversation, right before she hung up, the associate said, “Thanks for being such a loyal customer, I see you’ve been banking with us for 29 years.”

Wow, wow, super wow.

I could have hugged her over the phone.

  • I remembered high school when I used to pull up to the ATM in my Toyota Corolla with 29 of my high school track team friends.
  • I remembered depositing my first pay check in that bank.
  • I remembered stumbling into their ATM on the East Side of Manhattan at 2 AM after being in the nightclub with my friends.

Take this action TODAY

Celebrate your “work anniversary” with your clients as a celebration of special times in their lives – not just their money.

  • Take a picture every year of you and them on the work anniversary, and send them all past work anniversary pictures on that day.
  • Acknowledge the actual number of years and the start date of the relationship. When you sign on a new client, take a picture and then send it to them on the work anniversary.
  • Tell them the most poignant moment you had with them. “I remember setting up that 529 account when you had your first grandchild. Hard to believe that was 15 years ago and Miguel is about to go to college, I feel like time flew by.”

As financial advisors, you are invited to celebrate the most emotionally charged moments in people’s lives.

Find creative ways to show that you hold those memories as precious to you as they are to your client, and you’ll probably see them sending more people your way.

#1 Birthday call

An easy way to get your clients to send you other clients

  • Get a list of your clients
  • Write down everyone’s birthday. If you don’t know it, ask them.
  • On each client’s birthday, call the person.

Do not email them.

Do not send a social media message.

Do not send a card in the mail.

Do not send an email card.

Do not send a text message.

Here’s what to say:

  • Call them and with sincerity in your voice, tell them you were thinking about them on their special day.
  • Tell them you appreciate the relationship and that you are looking forward to another year working together.
  • Then stop talking and see what they say.

Leave all of this in a voicemail if they don’t answer.

#2 LinkedIn hat tip


Get connected with all your clients on LinkedIn.


Take 20 clients, and look at their LinkedIn pages. Scroll to the bottom and check out anyone who has given them a recommendation.

See, here’s mine from my LinkedIn page (scroll to bottom)

If your client has been recommended by this person, it indicates there is some semblance of trust between the two of them.


?You should ask your client for an introduction to that person.

Or, ask if it is okay to connect with that person. Now, don’t pitch them coffee or IRA rollover meeting. Just say you think that your financial postings in your feed may be useful to them.

No sales spam LinkedIn messages – they never wind up working in the long term. Use high quality messages instead.

#3 Don’t write them off – things may have changed!

Question from a subscriber:

“I have 400 clients and don’t get any good referrals from them. I don’t even try because they’re all small accounts, not the ‘big fish’ type accounts I would want anyways.


Really…400 households, and nobody has “big money”?

The issue is you aren’t building deep enough relationships.

You need to engage them differently. Do this:

  • Go through 50 names, and select 5 that you think might potentially have more wealth than you are currently handling.
  • Email them and ask for a catch-up meeting.
  • Get them to tell you three questions they have about their money.
  • Answer their three questions.
  • Over the course of this convo, it should become apparent if they have “big money” or not. If not, you should at least get ideas about how their associations may possibly lead to people who are rich. Ask them if they know anyone who owns a business.
  • Write up the answers to the three questions from each meeting, and email it out to the 400 people as a newsletter. Just put the question in quotes and then answer it in two paragraphs.
  • Send out this newsletter once a week to the 400. Mail Chimp is free/cheap newsletter software.
  • Check who is opening the email and get meetings with them, repeating the questioning process above.

That should yield some incremental business or referrals and the best part is, it does more with what you already have – instead of trying to go out and cut a new path in the woods.




Don’t forget about courtesy!

When somebody refers a prospect to you, don’t grab-it-and-go like you are in the checkout line at the supermarket.

Don’t get so excited about getting a referral that you forget to reciprocate with equal kindness back to the referent.

  • Do the courtesy of asking the referent what you should know about the referral; their personality, likes and dislikes, etc. This will assure them that you are intent on taking good care of the person.
  • Ask the referent what the best way is to contact the person, and when.
  • Send a thank you note, not just an email, but a handwritten note that arrives in the mail.
  • Be transparent. Tell them when you secure a meeting with the person, and afterwards tell them how it went. If it does not go well, tell them that, too – be upfront but don’t blame anybody.

Remember that a referral is a gift. Take good care of both the referent and the referral and they are likely to do it again.

What if they never call you?

From a subscriber“A raving client said they had a few people in mind that could use my services and would get back to me – and then they don’t! I can reach back out but don’t want to sound like I am begging.”

Ugh tell me about it – this is such a teeeeeeeaase!

Here’s the deal:

Either they reconsidered, or they plain forgot. Either way, you have three options (from best to worst).


You could up the level of service and be the Larry Bird (I’m from Boston, heh heh heh evil laugh) of financial advice.

Give them the wow, wow, super wow so they can’t help but feel compelled to send all their friends to you.

(Hint: I vote for this option.)


You could casually ask again (slightly pressuring). Now, if they backpedaled on making the referral, this could create an awkward situation.


You could do some research and ask about someone they know. This is like nudging them without saying, “Umm, hey buddy – you owe me a referral!”

Try this.

I saw that Beata Smith wrote you a recommendation on LinkedIn a few years ago when she worked for you. Do you suppose she’d be a good person to be introduced to, in case she needs someone to help her with retirement in a few years?

or this:

A few months ago you mentioned your sister had a baby. A while back you mentioned a few people who might need my services. Do you see Magdalena as in that category?

Did these financial advisor referral tips work for ya?

Alright that’s all for now. I hope these financial advisor referral tips were useful.

Did you sign up for my daily newsletter?

Or if you want more…

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 this LinkedIn training program 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. See you in the next one!

-Sara G

Any questions? Send 'em in!