Guest Post: Are You Thinking of COIs All Wrong?

By Beyond AUM

This is a term that needs no definition or explanation. Whether we refer to them as the popular acronym “COIs,” as referral sources, or as professional partners, it’s safe to say that “centers of influence” are an invaluable element of any advisory practice.

Yes, they grow your business by putting you in front of the right types of clients.

Yes, they can help you break into new markets and broaden your reach to more people who need your expertise.

But above all else, they empower you to provide a better experience to your clients and allow you to solve more of the problems they face.

In fact, you can probably point to five, 10, or even 20 different COIs that have helped you foster productive, fruitful, and long-lasting client relationships over the years. It’s the divorce attorney with whom you’ve collaborated to assist women facing a complex and emotionally devastating transition. It’s the CPA with whom you collaborated on a succession plan for a business owner, who was preparing for the next chapter of her life.

Notice the common thread in these scenarios?

Attorney, CPA… in our industry, COIs tend to fall into the same category: professional services. And why not? They work with clients who are similar to yours and provide similar types of comprehensive, personal advice. Forming relationships with these like-minded professionals just makes sense, right?

Let’s look beyond the definition that you’ve come to know so well over your advisory career. Imagine if you challenged yourself to venture outside the professional services realm to reach a new type of COI. What do you think you would find? How would your clients benefit? Would you reach a new dimension of growth in your business that you hadn’t dreamed possible?

Every decision you make in your business should start and end with your clients; your recommendations should come from a place of authenticity. Instead of looking for COI relationships with the criteria you’ve come to learn from others in the industry, think of the areas of your life in which you already have natural, authentic connections.

What if your all-women’s hockey team could benefit from an open dialogue about money? What if the volunteer board that manages your children’s art club could use someone to balance their annual budget? What if the guys you golf with on a weekly basis need a sponsor for an upcoming golf outing? What if you taught students at your neighborhood middle school about the importance of saving and investing?

These scenarios illustrate authentic situations in which you can showcase your expertise and add value to your community. By positioning yourself as a resource to the people you interact with regularly, you can have a positive impact on a cause, an organization, or a group you care about, while opening the door to an even wider pool of influential referral sources.

In short, you become the resource that creates win-win situations, in a manner that feels good, and real, and genuine to you.

We all have the fear of putting ourselves out there — of being just another business card that falls to the back of the drawer, or the LinkedIn message that goes unanswered. The bottom line is, your personal life is where you build truly long-lasting relationships. So, if you’re willing to put yourself out there to CPAs and attorneys that you may not know well — if at all — then why not pursue COIs from relationships you cultivate naturally on an everyday basis?

At Beyond AUM, we help our clients pursue these creative, new business development avenues every day. We encourage you to give this approach a try — and in fact, we’ve developed a worksheet to help you get started. Click here to download. Need help identifying new marketing strategies? Contact us today.

Beyond AUM is a growth, experience, and technology agency that specializes in serving financial advisory firms.

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