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Professional connections could quadruple referrals

Professional connections could quadruple referrals

Advisers have been urged to bolster their professional connections after research found it could lead to a four-fold increase in referrals from accountants and solicitors.

Following a survey of 200 advisers last month Octopus Investments said trusted professional connections were to become "central" to the growth plans of advisers in the coming years.

Charlotte Fairhurst, strategic partnerships manager at the firm, said: "Our research has shown that some of the most successful advisers are those that have strong, reciprocal referral relationships.

"Professional advice is now more interconnected than ever before – but significant numbers of advisers are yet to unlock the growth potential this can bring."

Despite the relationship between increased client referrals and professional connections, the Octopus research found only 56 per cent of advisers were actively addressing the latter as part of their business strategy.  

Three in five advisers citied a "lack of appetite" from accountants and solicitors as a barrier, something which Octopus warned was a "mistaken belief". 

Ms Fairhurst said: "We’ve been running professional connection workshops with advisers for a number of years and this is a consistent theme.

"There is a perception that accountants and solicitors either aren’t interested, or they already have a referral relationship in place and are not looking to take on more.

"Yet this research clearly shows there is still a huge opportunity to create new connections, in addition to the benefits for clients." 

The research found hesitation was also compounded by the knock-on effects of the coronavirus crisis, with 57 per cent of advisers agreeing it was harder to develop new relationships due to the pandemic.

Eight in ten advisers said they preferred to meet in person before making referrals, something hampered by coronavirus restrictions. 

But Octopus said opportunities remained for advisers who were "adaptable and willing to embrace new ways of working".

Rohan Sivajoti, co-founder of NextGen Planners, said: "People still haven't accepted that this is how it is right now, and this is how it's probably going to be for a while.

"It's time to adapt, it's time to accept, and it's time to find a new way of building relationships.

"Reciprocity is huge. Successful relationships happen when both parties work on it. It’s definitely got long-term benefit, and is wholly worthwhile."

Dave Seager, managing director of SIFA Professional, added: "If you have the confidence to talk through what you do in a Zoom environment and you’re keen to build new professional connections, it’s actually quite easy to talk to solicitors at the moment."

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