How to get on law firms’ referral panels – Part 2
Speaking at the recent IFP Practice Management conference Neil Bailey, director of Fortitude Financial Planning, provided a range of tips for working successfully with law firms. They are laid out in bullet points below.
Top tips for working with law firms: The basics
• Choose your market and specialise.
• Deliver on your promises.
• Be consistent and professional.
• Have a business philosophy you can describe and demonstrate.
• Ensure your processes are efficient, effective, well documented and auditable.
• Have case studies, clear examples of who you can help and how.
• When the deal is done send a thank you for the referral.
• Reciprocate by referring clients to the law firm.
How to start building the relationship
There are various ways to start to build a relationship with law firms, said Bailey, and you may need not to talk about financial planning to begin with. “We started off not talking about financial advice but on market changes,” he said. The co-operation will come later.
• A good starting point is the simple coffee meeting, to talk about where you can help each other out.
• If there’s been a change in legislation regarding financial advice, contact a few law firms and suggest that due to the change you go in and brief their team on the implications.
• Run seminars – on specific or specialist topics.
• Bring in a guest speaker to the seminar – pay the cost if necessary; it will provide an added incentive for lawyers to attend your seminars if there is a well known name speaking as well.
• Consider joining SIFA, which facilitates professional connections with the legal profession. It can also provide CPD for lawyers who attend your seminars.
• Be where they are. Send your specialist to the legal events which will be attended by the lawyers you are targeting.
“We started off with coffee, went on to present at team meetings and it opened the door for us,” Bailey said.
Be aware of the following
Building a lasting and profitable relationship is a long-term commitment and is far from plain sailing Bailey warned. Neither is it a cheap process. He gave the following insights:
• Be aware that building the relationships will take longer than you think it will. It can be quite frustrating. You’ve got to be prepared to invest the necessary time and money.
• If you want to do it well you are not going to do it on the cheap. “We paid for a well-known legal writer to train us for a day in certain aspects of the law so we could speak meaningfully when we went into meetings with lawyer firms. Then we paid him to present at our seminar. It was an investment but as a result of it we have £12m FUM generating £90k a year, so I think it was a good investment.”
• You sometimes have to take cases you wouldn’t normally deal with. You have to do the occasional favour.
• When you don’t get the reaction you want don’t feel you are being ignored – lawyers are busy people with targets to meet and you’re not going to be high on their priority list.
• Importantly, Bailey said, develop relationships not just with the partners but with the legal associates as well. “A lot of the referrals will come from the associates. Their relationship with the partners is like advisers and paraplanners; the partner fronts up to the client but the associates will do a lot of the work and often they will decide who gets the business.”
Visit the Fortitude Financial Planning website