Having a reliable source of new contacts is a high priority for advisers seeking to increase their client base.
Some advisers attend face-to-face networking events as part of their marketing strategy, to achieve this goal.
But the pandemic has largely removed this activity from marketing plans. So, how are firms going about finding new clients in the current environment?
Some advisers did not view networking events as the right marketing activity for their business anyway, as Scott Gallacher, director and financial planner at Rowley Turton explains: “We tried it previously, but found it too ‘salesy’”.
And an established reputation stands firms in good stead, anyway, in the absence of networking opportunities, reports Malcolm Cannon, client strategy director at Mearns and Co: “Our managing director is very good at going out and making connections, but that’s been curtailed,” he says.
“But referrals are still our number one source of business, which implies that a level of trust is already there.”
And new business enquiries have bounced back, despite the pandemic, as he explains:
“When the shock of coronavirus first arose, there was a big decline in enquiries. But they are now at the same level as before. I wouldn’t previously have believed, pre-Covid, that you could do things without face-to-face meetings.”
He adds: “People have been doing a lot of ‘soul searching’ as a result of the pandemic – that is, looking at career change or retirement, which has created enquiries.”
Mr Gallacher has also seen a rebound in new enquiries: “The key impact when lockdown happened was that new business enquiries fell off a cliff for two-and-a bit months. All advisers will have suffered due to the drop in new business enquiries.
“Our new business enquiries are back up to normal levels now, though – in fact, a bit above normal levels, as people are doing some catching up”.
Referrals and digital-marketing activity
One approach to developing new business in the new environment is to increase marketing activity by using external suppliers: “We’ve signed up to a digital-marketing company and we’re getting lots of enquiries through our website,” says Mr Anderson: “But we’ve always been proactive. I think reactive advisers will be finding things tough at the moment”.
Ms McCarron also reports positive results from online activity: “Our investment team posts portfolio update videos on Instagram, which we find is excellent for client engagement.”
But she says that otherwise, business-development activity is much as it was before: “At the moment we’ve not made any alterations to our lead sources or methods.
“We find the summer months are naturally slower for enquiries, therefore it gives us time to focus on our existing client bank and ensure we’ve got all their new tax year planning in full operation.
“We expect enquiries to ebb and flow while clients ‘find their financial feet’ after a volatile few months.”