By Brian Shapiro

A significant portion of new business comes from referrals from two key sources: existing clients and key centers of influence (COI). In my next article, I will discuss how to tactfully bring up the topic of referrals with your clients, increasing the success rate of referrals. In this article, I outline how to foster referrals from COI sources.


Narrow Your Focus

You don’t want to cast a wide net with COI sources. Rather than building surface-level relationships with many attorneys or CPAs, I’ve found the better strategy is to build deep relationships with a few key professionals. Here are two strategies for doing so.


Let the COI Test Drive Your Client Experience

Professionals tend to be protective of their client relationships. They are hesitant to refer clients to other professionals unless they have first vetted them. They must feel confident that the advisor they recommend will provide their clients with a first-class experience and appropriate solutions.

To give your COI professionals some exposure to the client experience and investment portfolio solutions that their clients should expect while working with you, I suggest the following:

  • Offer to take the COI through your client experience starting with those first discovery conversations through your onboarding process. Offer a free consultation so that they can experience how you work with clients. If they are not comfortable sharing their financial information with you, you can still show them the process and use generic data, if necessary.
  • Invite them to attend the first meeting with the clients they refer to you. Obviously, the client should approve of this invitation but having experts with diverse knowledge and experience at the table should lead to a productive and efficient meeting. A group meeting also prevents something from getting lost in translation, which can occur when meeting with experts separately. Plus, this is another way to strengthen your relationship with the COI and provide a deeper look into your firm.


Be the Expert by Sharing Useful Content

Acting as a content provider and subject matter expert to a COI can work on several levels. It showcases your expertise and creates opportunities for you to get in front of other key referral sources with content that is beneficial to the COI, their clients and others within their firm.

A great example of content sharing is for advisors to present on tax-efficient, spend-down strategies for clients. This is a particularly relevant topic with many baby boomers either already in or moving toward the RMD phase of their investment lifecycle. I’ve seen advisors present this topic to rooms full of CPAs and tax attorneys.

The benefits of content sharing are two-fold. The spotlight is on the advisor as a subject matter expert during the presentation and any conversations that take place after the presentation can lead to new meetings, presentations and opportunities to connect.


A Win-Win-Win for You, Your COIs and Their Clients

If you choose to connect with COI sources to increase client referrals, give yourself some time to refine your COI approach. I have observed that when financial advisors adopt and perfect the methods outlined above, they develop deeper relationships with their COI professionals and ultimately increase client referrals within their network.



As Advisor Development Officer, Brian focuses on recruiting like-minded advisors and Registered Investment Advisor firms to join Forum Financial Management (WAA’s parent company). Before joining Forum in 2019, he led the client development efforts for one of the largest turnkey asset management providers in the evidence-based investing space. Through a consultative approach, Brian works with firms to uncover their needs and challenges to identify ways that a partnership with Forum would be beneficial to their business.

To learn more about how Forum can help you amplify your life’s work, contact Brian at

We help advisors establish and grow successful wealth management practices. You can follow us on Twitter@theWAAlliance and on LinkedIn.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter