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Finding new clients is never an easy task for financial advisors. Most rely on referrals, but what is the best way to get a client to make a recommendation?
Offer free financial plans and then ask those lucky recipients for referrals, recommends Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Alexandra D. Frazier, 33.
Alexandra Frazier, winner of the Forbes-SHOOK Best Idea Competition, said the strategy helps families plan for their future whether they become clients or not. The Frazier Group, a team Alexandra manages with her mother, Rebecca Loyd-Frazier, 53, sees 25 to 40 clients per week and serves 550 households. The Frazier team manages about $550 million in assets.
“We average about 40-50 new households per year,” Alexandra Frazier said. The idea has generated at least 20 of those 50 new clients each of past several years, she added.
“Once clients see the financial plan, they are very appreciative,” Alexandra Frazier said. “I always say the highest compliment you can pay me is the referral of a friend or family member. I give them my business card and ask them to pass it along.”
Alexandra Frazier added: “We take this approach since the cost of a plan is expensive. We do it for free since people are nervous about something [financial plan] that could potentially cost $1,500 to $2,000.”
Unlike many urban Merrill offices, the Fraziers serve Kingsport, Tenn., a rural, hilly area located about 100 miles northeast of Knoxville. Nearby Eastman Chemical is one of the area’s biggest employers and a major source of clients seeking financial advice. The median income is $38,333, unemployment runs 6.1% and a single-family house costs $157,000.
The Frazier team focuses on helping clients build retirement savings and establish an estate plan, Alexandra Frazier said. The minimum account size to join the Frazier’s practice is $250,000. The practice is multi-generational with the Fraziers often working with clients’ children.
Alexandra Frazier has worked as a financial advisor for five years. She joined her mom at Merrill Lynch after graduating from Drake University law school and working as an attorney in Iowa.
“I always joke that I went from people packing my bags to get ready for court to making my mom’s coffee each morning,” she said.
Alexandra Frazier adds: “The truth is my mom and I really enjoy what we do. We view writing financial plans as a service, a goodwill gesture. But the truth is my mom and I just really enjoy what we do.”