By Amy Parvaneh, RIABiz, Feb. 15, 2016
It was 2006. I was 26 and I had just landed a job at Goldman Sachs.
As a young person, a New Yorker and as an Iranian immigrant, the awesomeness of the chance to work at such a brand did not escape me. I would be a private wealth manager providing portfolio review, asset allocation, tax-loss harvesting, fixed income portfolio customization, cash management, trading and a multitude of other areas in investment management. See: How an ex-Goldman superstar asset gatherer in LA is bringing her bazooka to the RIA knife fight.
Yet I was acutely aware that all of that was only half my job. My first job was to win clients.
I needed two things: a team and a motivation worthy of the gargantuan challenge of getting people I didn’t know to entrust millions — if not billions — of their savings to me.
But I was alone, with no Rolodex, no gray hair to point to for experience, and no discretionary income to invest in a country club.
My reaction was to tell my father, who was working as a mechanic in the red-eye shift, and my mother, who was working at Macy’s, that I’d take them to Newport, R.I. for a retreat. I didn’t choose the place where you practically need to be ultrahigh-net-worth to fit in for nothing. I wanted them to see these people living firsthand and to understand that these were the kinds of people whom I was seeking to serve as a financial advisor. See: $2-billion HighTower practice hosts UHNW event relating to financial — and personal — security.
But I also told them that I wanted them on my team and I said: This is going to help our entire family. I wanted them excited. I can only work so hard for the people I love. I never do this for myself. But I was letting them down if I didn’t get that kind of high-end business.
Of course, that was a serious understatement as I went into a state of near perpetual motion for the next few years. I was in a blur — but an effective blur — that worked but is sometimes hard to describe to others who would like to build a clientele for a financial advisory firm. See: Dissecting the pathology of UHNW wealth managers who want brand building without marketing.
The countless advisors who write about winning new clients all seem to suffer from one serious drawback, which can be described as a formula. There is little that can be neatly formulated when it comes to establishing trust — and getting the signatures and assets to back it up.
I meet with hundreds of financial advisors throughout the year and am confronted with a recurring theme — slow growth in new leads, prospects and clients. See: Four brokerage-world practices that could ramp up RIA asset growth.
It’s not easy.
The good news for RIAs is that investors are becoming savvier and more sophisticated. Smart investors are learning the advantages of investing with an RIA and are anxious to be educated.
At the same time, the competition for these investors is fierce. The lifestyle “tweak” to attracting this new crop of investors requires you to apply the analytical thinking to your social and extracurricular activities that you do to servicing your clients’ accounts.
More simply put: be the ultimate opportunist. See: Schwab is set to connect RIAs outside its referral network to HNW investors through its 'Got-milk’-style campaign.
Amy Parvaneh is the CEO and founder of Select Advisors, a female owned and operated consulting firm for RIAs. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.