“Dating service” for advisers needing better referrals

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A boutique advice network specialising in life risk has just launched a unique strategy guide that aims to provide advisers with the keys to boost referrals and build the asset value of their business.

Guardian Advice, part of the Suncorp Group, has just launched a Centres of Influence (COI) strategy guide in response to a February poll of its advisers that revealed acquiring new clients through referral was an ongoing barrier to building new business.

Suncorp head of life dealerships Simon Harris told Wealth Professional that as most customers trust word of mouth when making buying decisions, it’s essential for advisers to have a referral partnership with a range of relevant providers.

The strategy guide is a step-by-step process of how to find, locate, and identify where centres of influence in the adviser’s area are.

“The second part of it is to engage with these people, and go through the different stages of ‘dating’,” he said. “Once you’ve secured that relationship, it’s about how you build trust and empathy.”

The program is available to all Guardian Advice advisers, and Harris said he expects 70% of them will be using it by the end of the year.

The network has undertaken a highly successful pilot program, which straight after its launch saw advisers “already trying to book appointments”.

Phil George of OnePlan Life was one of the advisers to try out the pilot.

About four years ago George started his own business and recognised that his biggest challenge was in initially attracting customers.

“He realised that best source of clients was from the ad-hoc relationship he had with a mortgage broker he knew through a family friend,” said Harris.

Taking part in the strategy guide pilot helped George replicate this relationship with other professional contacts.

“Their COI strategy guide and coaching from our state manager have provided a turnkey solution for targeting new centres of influence, and added purpose and direction to our existing one,” George said.

Suncorp’s Harris said the model builds referral relationships based on due diligence, persistence, and accountability.

“And we don’t just throw a work book at people, we sit down and coach them,” he said. “It’s been a no-brainer for us and it will be something we continue to use over the next three or four years. When you start rolling it out it makes so much sense, and it’s good to see it’s been taken up so well.”