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How To Move Upmarket

Do you want to work with wealthier and more successful clients who can benefit from your expertise? A 2023 survey of 421 advisors shows that 64.8% are very or extremely interested in moving upmarket. The complication is that they have, so far, been unable to do so. The advisors report trying different approaches to connect with wealthier clients but are not getting much traction.

If you want to move upmarket, the place to start is with your definition of upmarket. For example, most advisors characterize their clients based on investable assets. So, if you are working with clients with $1 million to $10 million in investable assets, moving upmarket may mean more than $10 million in investable assets. For advisors with family office practices, net worth is often a factor in deciding what it means to move upmarket, as these practices provide diverse expertise beyond investments. 

Having defined what it means to move upmarket, you now have to take action. Referrals are the primary way advisors get new clients. However, client referrals are generally ineffective in enabling you to connect with wealthier clients. They often result in clients at the same level or lower.

According to Paul Saganey, founder and president of Integrated Partners and co-author of Optimizing the Financial Lives of Clients: Harness the Power of an Accounting Firm’s Elite Wealth Management Practice, “One of the most consistently powerful ways for advisors to find and serve wealthier clients with complex needs is by being introduced by the professionals these prospective clients already working with. This usually means getting referred to wealthier potential clients by accountants and attorneys.”

Most advisors know that referrals from centers of influence can be a sensational way to grow a practice. Nevertheless, relatively few advisors are doing a particularly good job of garnering referrals from accountants, attorneys and other types of professionals.

“There are proven methodologies that enable advisors to get wealthy client referrals for centers of influence regularly,” says Brett Van Bortel, director of consulting services with Invesco Global Consulting and co-author of Street-Smart Networking: How Financial and Legal Professionals Can Cultivate Centers of Influence for a Flood of New Affluent Clients, “Our COI program, for example, is based on extensive research and has been fine-tuned in the field. It works. However, not all advisors are willing to put in the time and effort to master these methodologies and implement them. It takes patience and work to create a steady stream of new wealthy clients from centers of influence. It’s the implementation that separates advisors earning high six figures to millions of dollars annually versus those less successful.”

There are likely several ways for you to move upmarket once you have defined what that means. One of the best ways is to get high-quality referrals from other professionals. There are time-tested methodologies for doing this that you need to learn. But the critical factor is not knowing what to do but doing it well.

Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He is a strategist for family offices and the ultra-wealthy.


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