Referrals are still the greatest tool an advice practice can use to generate growth, says Terry Bell, partner at research firm Business Health.

Speaking to Professional Planner at the 2018 Best Practice Forum in Sydney, Bell said the vast majority of clients were willing to pass on their adviser’s information and a healthy review to people they know.

“Our stats have always shown that existing clients are more than happy and more than willing to refer their adviser to their friends and colleagues – 87 per cent of clients, in fact, tell us that,” Bell said.

He noted that the potential exists for many of those referrals to come in the realm of intergenerational wealth transfer – but that might require product innovation and a new strategy.

“It behoves a practice to expand its product range to cater for changing needs of clients – hence new clients, new business – or look to the children,” he explained. “It requires a different strategy, but the children of existing clients are there, they’re untouched, and all of our American research shows that unless something is done on the death of one of the parents, the children will move their financial plan to another adviser.”

Adele Martin, managing director and senior wealth adviser at Firefly Wealth, agreed that referrals were an important conduit for growth, but added that technology is forcing advisers to change their value proposition in order to stay relevant.

Martin, who also spoke with PP at the forum, said advisers would find growth “in becoming a better coach, helping clients articulate what’s important to them, developing a plan around that and having the accountability to make sure they get there”.

Martin, whose firm operates out of Newcastle, said advisers whose service offering didn’t evolve would be overtaken by technology.

“Any advisers who are still concentrating on investment returns in the future are going to be left behind, because that’s the sort of thing artificial intelligence is going to replace in the not-too-distant future,” she said. “You’ll be able to ask Siri what the best insurance product is for you.

“If advisers don’t concentrate more on that life-coaching element, and what makes a great life to someone, they’re going to get left behind.”

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.
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