Ep: 72: Interview with Daniel Collison: How Financial Advisors Can Become Referable


Daniel Collison is a certified financial planner and in-demand coach with more than 25 years of experience in his field. He’s also the author of the book, The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Excellence.

Today on Stay Paid, Daniel offers strategies for pain-free prospecting and discusses how financial advisors can get referrals without needing to ask.

Key Points:

  • Have an ideal client in mind, and become a specialist for that client.
  • Don’t ask for a referral, but become referable.
  • Seminars are a great way to build your list from scratch.

Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.

Like many financial advisors, I fell into the business. I have degrees in political science and history. About 31 years ago, I got into the business—just as the market crashed in 1987. Luckily, there were a lot of clients open for the taking. So, I prospected hard. I eked out a living in my first year, I doubled it in the next 2–3 years, and I started to learn what I needed to learn.

In 2018, I started Advice2Advisors with my partner Tina Carthigaser. We’re continuing what we’ve done for the last 25 years, which is coaching advisors.

Q: What is your advice to a financial advisor looking to get new clients?

Before we get into prospecting, what we lay down is the base-level knowledge. You have to understand your business so that you can communicate to others with confidence. For example, is your business a personal CFO model or a family office? Understand and be able to show your clients that model.

The next thing is really important, and unfortunately most advisors don’t do this, but you need to focus on an ideal client profile. The more you narrow your focus, the more opportunities you have. Rather than focusing on everybody, you focus on that ideal client profile and suddenly clients are everywhere. It really does expand your opportunities, and you become the expert.

Q: How do you find that ideal client profile?

You need to begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey said. You’ve got to like the people you work with and work for, or else it’s never going to fly. My first year, I took on anyone I could. But the moment I got my first senior—my first retiree—I realized that’s where the money was. From that day, I started telling everybody I was a retirement specialist.

You need to know what your prospecting mechanisms are, and turn everything that you do into processes. We really train to become referable—never ask for a referral, but become referable. Everybody hates asking for a referral. But do ask for introductions.

Q: What do you mean by “becoming referable”?

There’s a lot of science behind becoming referable, and it can be done incredibly quickly. A lot of advisors think, “I have to prove myself.” You can prove yourself in the moment. Robert Cialdini is probably the best to read on influence and how you influence people. He explains the importance of likability.

The easiest thing to do is to just smile. Along with that, highlight your unique value proposition. Remind clients who you do your best work with and why. People think that building trust takes time. Trust develops over time, but you can shorten the time span by taking people into their future, and talking about “we.” “We can do this.” And then, you bring them back into the present.

Make them look good. Show up on time, do what you say, finish what you start, and show gratitude. If you can do all of that, you’re showing respect to the person who referred to you. If you’re not making the referrer look good, your chances of getting more referrals are limited.

Remind people of your ideal client. That will generate pictures of people like them in their mind and make you more referable.

You can also build a networking group. If you work with young professionals, think about who services these people. Create a group you can sit down with every few months and share ideas about these clients but also share referrals.

How do financial advisors build a network from scratch?

First of all, try and figure out your ideal client as quickly as possible. Find ways to reach that audience through other people. If you’re trying to reach retirees but are talking to younger people, ask a technical question they can’t answer, but which their parents or grandparents could. Then, ask if those relatives would be interested.

I think seminars are a fantastic way to build a business. I was shy in university.I wasn’t the guy who stood up and answered questions. But  when I had to make a living, I knew I’d do anything that I needed to. I started partnering with other advisors who would do seminars, and, ultimately, I got to the point where I felt comfortable doing seminars myself. Be the expert. Have fun doing it. Have passion. You’ll become a magnet for the right type of clients.

Q: What routine has driven success for you?

The one thing I do every single day is look into the future. I don’t find much fun in looking backward. I like to look forward with optimism. I try to set realistic goals—and, quite often, my business partner or spouse will reign me in a bit—and I work toward them. If you’re optimistic and passionate enough, you obtain your goals, you make new ones, and you move on.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Turn everything into a process. I turned tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning into a process. What was most important was to turn every aspect of prospecting into a process. That’s what makes life easy.

Action Items:

  • Ask someone you know a technical question that they can’t answer, but which someone else they know could.

Connect with Daniel:


Daniel’s book: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Excellence: Becoming a World-Class Practioner

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