As a busy and successful person, it’s highly likely that you prefer to get guidance on the many financial issues in your life—from investing to taxes to estate planning to wealth protection and beyond. It’s also highly likely that you’d like that advice to come from extremely qualified and capable professionals—experts who have your best interests at heart and who have the skills and capabilities to add tremendous value to your bottom line.
The bad news: There are hundreds of thousands of financial advisors and other professionals practicing today. That can make the search for top professionals feel like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
The good news: You can seriously boost your probability of success by taking the steps that the Super Rich (net worth of $500 million or more) use to find their experts.
Referrals are the Key, Followed by Reputation.
Our experience working closely with the Super Rich tells us that they consistently find high-caliber professionals in three main ways.
- Most likely way: Referrals from other professionals they are currently working with or have recently employed.
- Second most likely way: Referrals from their peers, who are usually either relationships going back a long time or part of a group they’re also members of.
- Third most likely way: Contacting a leading professional because of the industry reputation of that person.
These three ways dominate how the exceptionally affluent find elite wealth planners. There are other ways Super Rich families connect with high-caliber professionals, but they’re more the exception than the rule. See Exhibit 8 for an overview.
Referrals from Other Professionals.
High-end professionals tend to know other types of high-end professionals. Their paths often cross from working with the same rich and Super Rich clients, as well as at industry events, conferences and the like. If a skilled money manager and a wealth planner work for the same client, and work collaboratively to help that client, their experience will give them a good feel for each other’s skills and integrity.
These referrals tend to play out through two main scenarios:
- Client-initiated. The Super Rich like to source other professionals by soliciting referrals from the professionals they are currently engaging. While that approach is useful for finding top talent, it is also an astute risk reduction approach. The reason: The professional making the referral is often “on the hook” for that referral. If the referred professional does not deliver as promised, then the judgment of the referring professional can be questioned. When asking for a referral in this way, you need to raise your hand and tell the professional what particular results you’re looking to achieve. It is that professional’s job to get more information from you and make a qualified introduction.
- Professional-initiated. Many high-caliber financial professionals will often take the initiative and broach the topic of having a client talk to another professional. A proactive professional will understand your latent needs and get out in front of them by making referrals to people who can help you meet them. Indeed, it’s a sign that you’re likely working with a great professional if he or she proactively introduces you to others who
can help you.
Referrals from Peers.
The second most likely way the Super Rich find a high-caliber expert is through an introduction by a business associate or another type of peer they trust. This can, of course, be a highly effective approach for you to use as well—especially if you are already on the path toward building serious wealth, as is likely the case.
Furthermore, we see that the likelihood of getting peer referrals goes up exponentially if you have built relationships with peers by getting to know them through specialized or exclusive groups.
For the Super Rich, examples include organizations and events like the World Economic Forum conferences, the Milken Institute Global Conference and Bilderberg Meetings. It is at these gatherings that the Super Rich connect with each other and build meaningful relationships. Based on those relationships, they’re usually willing to share the best professionals they’ve found in their own lives—including elite wealth planners.
For those of us not yet at the Super Rich level, there are other promising options. One example: mastermind groups. In top-of-the-line mastermind groups, very successful individuals are willing to tell other members about their experiences with the professionals they employ.
Essential: Just as the Super Rich do, you must develop rapport and trust with a peer before you can expect him or her to make a referral. That’s why mastermind groups and other organizations that foster community and an environment in which members support each other can be so valuable.
Some professionals in the financial and legal worlds are well-known among their peers and competitors for all the right reasons They have a powerful and influential professional brand that acts like a magnet—drawing the rich, the Super Rich and other leading authorities to them.
These “brand name” professionals have several key characteristics:
- Extreme competence and technical expertise
- An intense attention to being client-centered
- A willingness to share their insights, technical know-how and processes with others—clients, prospects and even competitors
Important: This doesn’t necessarily mean a financial professional you see all over billboards and television. Instead, these professionals tend to be well-respected by the key players in their industry. They may very well be unknown among the mass market.
This prominence ultimately brings us back to referrals. Because of their focus on making things better for their clients and even the clients of other professionals, high-profile professionals are more likely to be referred by other professionals. They are also more likely to be referred to others by their Super Rich clients.
Example: Industry-prominent professionals tend to be quite successful in being asked to present at mastermind groups.
Using These Tools.
Clearly, to get great referrals to professionals, it’s helpful to “run in the right circles”— that is, to already be working with at least one professional you think is of extremely high quality, or to have people in your life who are already working with such professionals. Those become your access points to financial experts who may be able to add tremendous value to your life.
If you’re currently working with a professional you think is great, you can certainly ask for recommendations for other professionals he or she might know or partner with. If not, and you’re looking to build a team of experts from scratch, you might consider reaching out to us. Our team can introduce you to an elite wealth manager who can help you identify where you are today financially, where you want to go, any gaps and how you might bridge them.
Action step: If you think you or a family member could use some help building a team of financial experts, contact your current legal or financial professional to explore the topic further.
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