To find the right clients, you need to understand them.


Whenever I’m working with advisors one-on-one or chatting after a speaking engagement, they usually ask, “How do I find better clients?”  Typically, that question translates to “How do I find people with more money?”

My first thought is to caution that type of thinking. Just having money doesn’t necessarily make that client the right client. A lot of frustration comes from having a lot of clients but being narrow in product mix. For example, only having assets under management will leave you with a low-margin business. When you add more clients, you are also adding more service, which could mean you’re not as profitable.

We want to make sure that when you grow, you grow profitably. I want you to change your philosophy from “I need to find clients with more money” to simply, “I need to find the right client.” And the right client is defined by where you want your business to be in the next five to 10 years. If that remains assets under management, that’s fine.

But if you want to move to a High Performing Practice, you need to find more of the right clients and then develop a deeper relationship with them. That’s how you’ll remain relevant in this great shift from the workforce to retirement—one of the largest shifts the United States has ever seen.

There are three things you need to be thinking about:

  1. Can you be patient enough? I would recommend not stopping your current prospecting strategy. Add to it. Increase what you’re doing so you can attract the right client — the client that you The one that will grow your business in the next five to 10 years.
  2. Do you understand what this segment of the population really wants? People with wealth typically live a little bit longer because they have better access to health care. We tend to say, “Hey, you need my specialty.” But they often have other issues to focus on. Your specialty may be assets under management, but what they really want to talk about is how to minimize their tax burden during retirement. Or they may want to discuss legacy issues. Or how to pass their values onto kids and grandkids. To achieve a High Performing Practice, you need to know what’s important to the client and how to address it.
  3. How can you find and access the right people? Are there certain functions or restaurants that appeal to them? Evaluate their communities and plan accordingly. Choose settings and activities that are likely to interest them when planning an event.

By focusing on patience, understanding your market inside and out, and creating a campaign designed to nurture your clients, you can delve deeper into their concerns and interact with them in the style they prefer. If you do that, you will transform your business to a High Performing Practice with better clients. 

What’s the best way to prospect for new clients? Focus on keeping it simple.


Prospecting is the most difficult task when it comes to building our business — especially if we’re trying to figure out how to do it with more clients.

I was reading a book over the weekend called The Distraction-Proof Advisor by Paul Kingsman. He talks about how he prepared for the Olympic Games. As a swimmer, he said, training was simple, but it was not easy. A lot of people ask me, “How can I make prospecting easier?”

The answer is that we need to shift our focus like Paul Kingsman did. We need to talk about simplicity, not about making it easy. Paul talked about how training was simple. He had to be in the pool a certain number of hours. He had to lift weights a certain number of hours. He had to eat right to fuel his body. That’s not easy. But it is simple.

The same is true with prospecting. Let’s think about how we can make it simple. There are three steps to take:

  1. Referral Track: The first step is to really have a good referral track for every appointment — and for every time that you give someone value. Getting a referral isn’t just asking for the next person. You must have a real, clear image about who you want to build your business with over the next 10 years and you need to be able to paint that picture for the person you’re talking with. They need to be able to visualize your next-level referral.

  2. Automation: We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of email addresses. They largely go unused. We need to make sure that we are implementing nurturing campaigns for existing clients to take them to additional products and additional services. For most of our clients, the first few products we showed them didn’t meet their needs. We persisted until we found the right solution. As financial professionals, we need to continue to nurture those relationships, to get more ingrained with our clients and continue to provide solutions.

  3. Technology: You may think that technology and automation are the same. I disagree. I consider automation the process. Technology is the tool to keep your client focused on you. How many times have you gone to or conducted a seminar and not been able to get the number of appointments you wanted? And, at the same time, not been able to get the clients back into the office? It makes holding a seminar seem like a waste of time and money. But today’s technology can change that. Now, consider employing geofencing to target your attendees. For 30-45 days following the seminar, they’ll receive targeted advertising reminding them of the problem that is still unsolved. And reminding them that you have answers.

Use the next week to focus on developing a solid referral track, learning about how automation can help nurture client relationships and using today’s technology tools to enhance your reach.


Transformational Tactic

Keep it simple.

high performing practice retirement simple prospecting

More Prospects to Meet


Our day-to-day activities pull us in different directions. Sometimes we feel like we are going 100 mph in a 55-mph speed zone and getting no where. We are servicing clients, preparing and monitoring financial plans, and listening to rapidly changing market conditions on the television in our office. We suddenly look up at the clock and the day is over. Repeat that often enough and we will look at our business in a couple of months to find that we don’t have any new prospects. Or a plan to grow our business.

We must always be finding ways to recruit new prospective clients if we want our business to grow. We need a consistent pipeline of individuals that have a problem that our expertise solves. Because we are already so busy with running the existing business, we don’t find time to devote to the key metric in our business – marketing. And, if we find the time to think about it, the marketing efforts we implement are general and not specific to a targeted audience. In some cases, we know that recruiting is such a vital activity that we outsource it to a 3rd party to “get me in front of more people.” We end up with the wrong clients and therefore compound our day-to-day activity problem. At the end of the day, we should be choosing whom we do business with instead of the other way around.

There has to be a better way. I suggest three simple changes to create an ongoing flow of high-quality people that want to speak to you due to your expertise.

1. Clarify your message. People make decisions on initial reactions. They don’t take the time to research anything about the quality of person behind the story. You must be crystal clear on what you do and for whom you will help.

2. Use technology properly. We all have websites. Even if there are chock full of pleasing graphics if they don’t produce results or show up in search engines they aren’t serving their purpose. Figure out how to use your existing email lists better while you clarify your message to your targeted audience. This saves time, money, and effort on your part. Don’t waste time weeding through everyone to get to the truly high value prospective client.

3. Make referrals a part of your presentation. Whenever you meet someone, you should ask what a good prospect looks like for them. In doing so, you have created value that will reap benefits down the road. Create a closing script that includes this verbiage to separate yourself from any competition.

It’s not easy to be clear and concise, especially in a complex financial services practice. However, if you follow our guidance using the StoryBrand seven-step framework, you can create an environment where you become a magnet instead of a megaphone. Stop wasting time and money on the outdated marketing strategies of yesterday. Instead, use a plan that brings the people that need you the most to your doorstep. Automation allows you to continually prospect, even during your busy day-to-day activities running a financial planning practice. The consistency of your message combined with automation lifts you to new levels, helps more Americans, and adds time for you to do the things that are important to you.

Transformational Tactic: Use technology and the right words to create a consistent flow of prospective clients to your firm.

high performing practice retirement prospecting

Grow with the Best Prospects – Easily


At every sales meeting, my staff talks to me about concerns that our advisors have in trying to build their business. Our industry has a nearly unlimited opportunity to help American families retire and protect their wealth. With the number of financial professionals today plus the erosion of talent over the next 20 years, it’s easy to say that every planner has enough prospects to help grow their business.

So, why is it such a problem to grow the number of clients in your practice?

The problem is building your practice in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you and your staff, do it profitably, and have a higher performing practice than when you started. Most people tell me that having a higher performing practice means adding new clients. That solution works well if you truly need to add more clients, potentially add assets under management or new sales, and achieve more revenue. But, just adding more people might not create the leverage you need to make a high performing practice.

Adding more clients also means more service, more plans, more time, more effort, and more costs. That means a similar level of profitability, less time with your family, and most likely less enjoyment out of your business. You have to pay attention to how your grow your business and with whom you grow your business. If adding more clients is your solution, you have to be deliberate in the clients you choose to add.

This critical choice boils down to these key points:

1. Define your target audience.

2. Be as specific as possible.

3. Determine the #1 value you bring to that group.

It’s that simple. While we all feel a responsibility to help as many Americans as possible retire more securely we must make the careful and diligent choices that make a difference in our clients’ lives. And in our own lives as well. You must have a plan to grow your business purposefully. You may feel that you will project a negative impression by not working with everyone that comes your way. Or, you might feel that you could lose a potential sale by referring a prospective client to another person. What’s important is to understand your purpose, of your business, and to your client. You have to define your value.

Your value starts with understanding what you can deliver to your potential audience. By choosing the processes, products, and services that you specialize in, you can better articulate your value to your intended audience. And, remember, there are plenty of people that need our services for you to be laser-focused on your audience. That’s the key. Understand your audience better than everyone else and you are likely to win the client. Speak in their terms empathetically and authoritatively to demonstrates you can deliver on their needs, dreams, and goals.

Transformational Tactic

Understand your target audience better than anyone else.

If you would like more information on how to transform your business to a high performing practice, sign up for our free course and register to receive weekly updates from High Performing Practice.

high performing practice retirement growth

Uneducated Opinions


As a freshman at Indiana University, I seemed to be in a fog during my first week of basketball practice.

The whole experience of Assembly Hall, Coach Knight and some of the best players in the country was a lot to take in as a student manager. Every year, Coach made a point of saying something to each of the new managers. Unannounced, he came up to me, made a somewhat indirect introduction and said something I’ll never forget:

“Son, after you graduate, you are going to hear from a lot of people who think they can coach. I would encourage you not to pay attention to the uneducated opinions and pay attention to how we play basketball at Indiana.”

Sure enough, there were plenty of people who would offer their thoughts once they found out I was a student manager ― how they would have used Steve Alford more effectively, or how they’d have gotten Keith Smart the ball more often.

What surprises me is how often this conversation occurs in business as well.

In April, I read an article from Ken Fisher in USA Today titled “Avoid Complicated Annuities.” I have several concerns about the article ― not only because of the misinformation it contains but because USA Today’s distribution means a wide audience is receiving poor advice. At the end of the day, Mr. Fisher’s article is nothing more than an opinion piece on annuities, and it appears to lack the proper factual perspective on what annuities can do for many retirees.

First, the article quotes Mr. Fisher as saying, “Whatever you need, annuities are probably wrong.” That simply isn’t accurate. The evidence behind study after study continues to show the benefits of annuities. Ash has a study that shows how the benefits of guaranteed income ― using a QLAC for deferred income ― improves the probability of success in 48 of 48 scenarios. If your goal is to mitigate the risks of longevity and running out of money, annuities are probably right in most situations.

Second, Mr. Fisher indicates low-cost stock and bond funds held directly are better in the long term. I don’t completely disagree. I’m an equity believer and find that equities put clients in a great position to outpace inflation. Unfortunately, Mr. Fisher’s statement lacks the backdrop of the changing demographics in America.

The typical trailing baby boomer (ages 50–59) has far less in savings than the generation before. I am deeply concerned that this will plague our industry for the next two decades or more. Today’s planners are expected to create more income, for longer periods of time, with the least amount of assets. Using annuities can reduce, or in many cases eliminate, the impacts of longevity on a portfolio. Therefore, understanding the proper placement of annuities within a portfolio helps alleviate some of the pressures felt by retirees. Annuities offer an alternative to a systematic withdrawal strategy using stock and bond funds. We have to help retirees think and act differently than they originally thought they would in retirement.

Finally, it’s difficult to know when our last days will be. You shouldn’t be confidently willing to bet on longevity. Think about insuring risk versus betting on it. You do it for a home fire or auto accident. Why not use that same philosophy in your retirement income portfolio? Look for smaller chances to create big impacts. There is a wide gap between a journalist and a columnist. The difference is fact and opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion ― but we can use research to show the value of deferred annuities and tax-efficient income from annuities. So don’t always believe what you hear from someone online or posing as a journalist. To get the facts on annuities and other retirement solutions, speak to one of our Retirement Income Consultants.

Winning Strategy: Use facts to make educated recommendations to your clients on retirement income planning.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at