Quarantines and social distancing have impacted many aspects of retail practice management but none more than prospecting for new business. Faced with the Do Not Call Registry and a growing resistance to unsolicited marketing, financial advisors had turned to social networks to discover potential clients. But now advisors aren’t attending parties or connecting at face-to-face meetings, and most business-building activities have been de-emphasized or discontinued. So how does an advisor gain an introduction to a prospective client?

Ironically, COVID-19 has created opportunities for building your business. No one expected the massive economic impact of the pandemic, and many successful investors realized that they were largely unprepared for the financial consequences. Even many clients with long-standing advisory relationships discovered that their trusted advisor was ill-equipped for the magnitude of the market disruption. It’s our belief that as optimism about a speedy recovery increases, clients will continue to feel vulnerable and discontent because, once activated, negative feelings tend to stick around for a long time.

Sometimes Short-Term Is the Answer

There’s some good news. Clients may now be willing to consider a new financial relationship. Recognize this opportunity and adapt your message. Don’t sell long-term, comprehensive planning and investment services; instead, offer a more immediate, problem-solving approach through a virtual outreach program.

To help you in this endeavor, the AllianceBernstein Advisor Institute offers a simple prospecting tool called the Financial Uncertainty Preparedness Checklist. This checklist catalogs more than 40 investment-management and wealth-management issues that uniquely successful families should address in order to have greater confidence that nothing important is missing from their financial plan.

Importantly, because the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact across almost every portfolio, most investors recognize that they weren’t properly prepared for the financial disruption that occurred. This means they’re likely to welcome a way to safeguard their finances and are ready to take action to protect their wealth in the future. Just as portable-generator sales go up dramatically after a hurricane, the desire to bring order to the chaos of their personal financial lives has been galvanized for a huge number of successful investors who crave greater security in an uncertain world.

Step One: Prepare for Your Trip

To get started, review the Financial Uncertainty Preparedness Checklist, and then adapt it to your professional point of view. Your checklist should ensure that nothing is missing from a client’s financial plan that could hurt him or that he should take advantage of.

Step Two: Take a Test Drive

Once you think that your checklist is ready, offer it as a resource to a few people who you think will appreciate it. Start with existing clients. As the capital markets continue to improve, many clients will feel relief and a growing sense of confidence and optimism about the future. Send a copy of the checklist to clients along with a commentary on how you developed it and who can benefit from it. If you get positive feedback, invite those clients to pass the resource on to friends and family members who would like to become better prepared for future uncertainties. If you get constructive criticism, adapt the checklist and start again.

Step Three: Head for the Open Road

Once you’re confident that your checklist is comprehensive, invite clients to email it to their CPA and their estate/insurance professional to get input. Suggest that the client copy you on each email. If the client agrees, follow up with a call or an email to explain the checklist and to offer it as a resource for the professional’s other clients. You can suggest a virtual meeting for anyone interested in discussing the issues on the checklist.

Other avenues to explore are through your acquaintances and friends. Emailing the checklist as a no-risk, no-cost resource can show your level of expertise and inspire people to contact you to discuss how to put their personal financial house in order. Additionally, friends can advocate for you to their personal networks. The checklist gives them a reason to talk about you to people who are ready to examine their financial preparedness.

There are three great things about a checklist:

  • It provides a real value in and of itself.
  • It doesn’t require interpretation.
  • It easily leads to an expanded conversation with people who want to take their financial situation more seriously.

For more information about using checklists in your virtual practice or to request a copy of the Financial Uncertainty Preparedness Checklist, call (800) 247 4154.

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of all AB portfolio-management teams.

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