If you’re wondering how financial advisors get prospects, it’s by optimizing existing relationships. Client events will strengthen your existing connections, encourage clients to introduce you to new leads, and allow your guests to get to know, like, and trust you.
If you manage personal investments and want to attract new clients, then you’re going to need to court prospects until they know, like, and trust you—and that takes time and effort. Being referred can expedite the process due to a transfer of trust, but even then, potential new clients will want to get to know you before they decide whether you’re someone they want to do business with. Client events give prospects that opportunity, making them one of the best ways for financial advisors to find new clients.
Why client events are important
The currency of business is relationships, and this is especially true in the world of finance. No one with a lick of sense is going to entrust the security of their financial future to a stranger, which is why getting repeated face time with clients and prospects is more than just a good idea—it’s also an essential aspect of your overall plan for growth. Enter client events.
Client events are important because they allow you to strengthen relationships with existing clients, meet and form new relationships with potential clients, and generally expand your circle of influence.
A client appreciation event—where you mix and mingle with clients, their friends and family members, and other prospects—gives you a chance to humanize your firm. Your guests get to see you and your colleagues not only as financial professionals but also as people with full lives, complete with personal relationships, interests they might share, and experiences they can relate to.
Hosting an appreciation event and ensuring everyone has a good time also creates goodwill among your guests. That goodwill encourages reciprocity, and the easiest way for them to do that is to refer you to others.
If prospecting for leads or increasing your AUM is your intent, then an educational event will give you the opportunity to shape your audience’s perception of your knowledge, build authority, and enhance your credibility among current clients and new leads. Even if the number of qualified leads ends up being less than you had hoped for, at the very least you’ve expanded your brand recognition.
Finally, in a very practical way, client events offer you a chance to obtain or otherwise update vital contact information. The bigger the event, the more new leads you can find and appointments you can set. And the more new appointments, the greater the number of prospects and eventual new clients.
Client event ideas for financial advisors
The types and number of client event ideas is limited only by your imagination, but as implied above, there are generally two categories: client appreciation events and prospecting events. The former are occasions to express your gratitude for your clients’ trust, business, and referrals without making a sales pitch. The latter is where you promote your services to attendees, when they’ll be anticipating and accepting of it. You want to take care that you don’t confuse one with the other.
What follows is a list of client event ideas for financial advisors—some original and others curated from articles addressing this same topic. They’re loosely organized from low-budget options ideal for clients, their family and friends, and social media followers to more costly and intimate occasions reserved for your highest-net-worth clients.
1. Coordinate a pie giveaway
Just in time for Thanksgiving, a fall event used with great success by several guests on the Stay Paid podcast is an annual free pie giveaway.
Partner with a local bakery to provide free pies, then set a period when people can pick them up either at the bakery (be there to greet them) or at your office. It’s a great way to enhance your brand recognition and foster relationships in your community—many podcast guests have told us that after a year or two, people begin to rely on them for their holiday dessert!
2. Plan a happy hour
The beauty of this client event is that you don’t have to arrange the setup or cleanup, which makes it easy to plan one a month. Select a local watering hole, preferably a favorite among your clients. Arrange for an assortment of appetizers to be served, and decide whether you want to spring for the first round of drinks.
A happy hour is the perfect opportunity to relax, catch up with clients, and make new introductions. If the bar often hosts trivia nights, consider coordinating with them to create a contest of your own with prizes for the winning players or teams.
3. Rent a food truck
Food trucks have become increasingly popular catering options at outdoor parties. They’ve also taken center stage as the main attractions at festivals where patrons can indulge in gourmet delights that were once exclusive to high-end restaurants. Arrange for vendors to park in your office lot or at a local recreation area, spreading the word to your community. Just ensure there are tables and seats available.
4. Celebrate special occasions
Birthdays, anniversaries, and upcoming retirements are all special occasions you can recognize. Tell client you’re especially tight with that you’d like to host an intimate event for their closest family and friends to celebrate. Ask for names and contact information so you can send invitations, and once the day has passed, mail each attendee a thank-you note.
You’ll want to add these new contacts to your database, but abruptly directing solicitations to your client’s friends can come across as a bait-and-switch tactic. We offer a personally branded magazine you can give as a gift subscription instead.
With your image and contact information appearing in six key places, it’s an easy way to stay top of mind and nurture potential new clients. Plus, it’s marketing they’ll actually want to receive. Simply include in your thank-you note that they should be on the lookout for the arrival of their first issue.
5. Reserve a movie theater
You may be surprised to learn how affordable it is to reserve a movie theater for a private screening. Packages typically include food and beverages and a list of movies from which you can choose. Consider a Saturday morning family-friendly matinee or a weekday evening showing for date night.
6. Arrange for family portraits
For another wonderful fall client appreciation event, hire a photographer for a few hundred dollars to take family photos in a local park. Clients can then select and place their orders in time for the holidays. Provide coffee, hot cocoa, and donuts, and consider purchasing and framing photos as a gift for your more valuable clients.
7. Deliver or sponsor an educational workshop
Educational workshops and presentations, while certainly appropriate for promoting your financial services and getting new leads, don’t need to be restricted to company business. For instance, you could invite a guest speaker or arrange a “how-to” workshop on topics such as how to read a financial statement, stay active after retiring, or start a business. Simply consider who your audience is and what may benefit them the most.
If you already send one of our personally branded magazines to your sphere, have some promotional copies on hand to give attendees. You could also prepare one of the recipes in your magazine and serve it along with other small bites and refreshments. Let your audience know they’ll find the recipe in the magazine and that they should take a copy home with them.
8. Plan a round of golf or a sports clinic
Marc Minor is the CEO of Legacy Investment Services and a former Stay Paid podcast guest. He built a $500M book of business with clients sourced almost entirely from referrals—many of which he initially met through arranged golf outings.
During his podcast interview, Marc explains in detail everything you need to know to host your own golf outing, including:
- Who to invite, when to invite them, and how to invite them.
- How you can approach partner businesses and vendors to have them pay for your event.
- What his opening comments are, how he establishes an exclusive, “by invitation only” atmosphere, and the importance of having face-to-face conversations with all the guests.
- How he follows up and his four-point discovery call.
A similar idea is a sports clinic where you hire an instructor to help attendees refine their skills, such as in golf, tennis, basketball, and other sports. These clinics can be restricted to adults, planned for kids, or expanded to include the entire family. They can also be promoted as an appreciation event or, following Marc’s plan, as a prospecting event.
9. Organize family days
You’re undoubtedly aware of the statistics showing that a large percentage of women (about 70%) change their financial advisor after their husbands die. The same is true of children who are the beneficiaries of their parents’ assets. To avoid losing these accounts, it’s imperative that you develop relationships with both spouses and their adult children. Organizing a family day event can start you on that path.
Popular family events you could arrange include a barbeque at a local park or the home of a senior partner, a day of lake or deep-sea fishing, a group outing at a sporting event with box seats, or a winning tailgate party (put together using our free planner).
10. Host food and beverage tastings
When food is the focus, you can be sure people will attend.
For your most valuable clients, you could reserve a restaurant and have a well-respected chef prepare a tasting menu complete with wines that complement each plate.
Other options include partnering with a local cheesemonger and sommelier to entertain guests at a cheese-and-wine-pairing class, a chocolatier for a chocolate tasting, or an independent brewery for beer sampling. In each case, you can send your guests home with a swag bag containing samples from the event and a copy of your personally branded magazine for them to enjoy.
How to plan a client event
You’re a busy professional, so you’re going to need help planning and arranging your events. Some events will require more coordination than others—a happy hour can be handled in-house while a large holiday party will benefit from the expertise of an event coordinator.
- Determine your goal. You may have several goals, but you first need to decide the primary one: to let your clients know you value and appreciate their business or to prospect for leads.
- Decide upon the type of event. You’ve got a lot of options, but your goal should steer you toward some and away from others.
- Choose who to invite. Again, look to your goal for an indication of who should be on the guest list. Does it require only your highest-net-worth clients, or will it be best met by inviting an assortment of clients, their friends, and their families?
- Select a date and time. Remember that what may be a good time of year for you may not be the most convenient for your guests. Also check whether there is another popular event, such as a sporting event, graduation, or holiday, that may conflict with yours. Keeping your guests in mind, consider whether an early or later time and a weekday or weekend activity will promise you the most attendance.
- Reserve a location, and plan as necessary for refreshments, entertainment, and equipment. It’s always a good idea to have a behind-the-scenes person you can call upon to troubleshoot during an event. The more complex the event, the more people with the necessary expertise you should have in the wings.
- Send your invitations. From a marketer’s perspective, the real power of a client event lies in the opportunity for multiple touchpoints. Depending on the event, advertise it on social media or send your guests a written invitation at least eight weeks in advance of the date. Follow with an email reminder a month out, then with a phone call two weeks after that.
Tips for maximizing the ROI of your event
Determining the monetary gain of your client event is certainly something you can do—you simply need to track converted referrals and leads who are linked to attendees. But the broader value of client events is grounded in the relationships they help create and strengthen and the positive, lasting impact they have on your brand. To optimize this aspect of your event, make sure you follow these tips.
Thank people for your success
You’ll want to thank people for attending, but you should also take the opportunity to express your gratitude for their business. Share your goals with them, and let them know your success is because of their loyalty and referrals. Include in your thanks those who contributed to making your event possible.
Make sure you mingle with everyone
Avoid allowing any one person or group to monopolize your attention. If it’s an appreciation event and someone wants to talk business, politely tell them you can speak with them after your guests have left or that you’ll call them the next day when you can give them your full attention.
Post pictures and videos to social media and your website
Think about creating an events page on your website and hiring a photographer to capture images. Use tags to call out people in social media posts, and encourage them to share images with their friends.
Send folks home with a gift
Ideally, you want to give them something indicative of the event and reminiscent of you. Consider including a copy of your personally branded magazine to satisfy the latter.
Follow up after the event
Following up with event attendees gives you yet another touchpoint. Send a handwritten note instead of a quick email that’s quickly read and then forgotten. You also have the option to place a thank-you call or send a video text message—it’s something that not many people do and will definitely stand out. Above all, make sure you quickly follow up with referrals and new people you were introduced to.
Especially in the world of finance, your success depends on building personal relationships. Client events are an ideal means to create new connections and nurture those you already have. Use the ideas here to plan your event or spark your own thinking.