How to Court Affluent Investors

John Diehl   |  Mon Mar 14 12:30:00 EDT 2016

Business Lunch

Recent research that The Oechsli Institute performed (in collaboration with Hartford Funds) suggested that few financial advisors understand how to attract affluent investors. According to this research, in 2015, only 3.5 percent of financial advisors were bringing in 10 or more million-dollar clients, and only 2.9 percent were bringing in clients with $500,000 - $1M of investable assets1. The implications of this data are twofold: first, since so few advisors are active in the affluent investor space, there is very little competition and therefore significant opportunity; and second, financial advisors could use some tips on how to acquire more affluent investors.

Another piece of valuable information that came from the Oechsli research is that 93 percent of affluent investors chose their financial advisor through relationship marketing.2 This statistic reminds us once again of the importance of relationship building in the investor-advisor relationship—not only might a strong rapport enable advisors to better help their clients, but it might also help advisors earn their clients’ referrals.


In addition to focusing on relationship building with existing clients, there are a few helpful tactics that the Oechsli research suggests might help financial advisors gain access to affluent investors:

1. Source clients’ network.
Each client has a robust network of friends, family, colleagues, neighbors and so on, and those connections could be the ticket to affluent client acquisition. A natural product of getting to know clients better will be learning about what they do in their personal life, and with whom. When a client mentions a hobby, an event or a social outing, take a deeper dive by asking follow-up questions. For example, if you discover that one of your clients is an avid golfer, ask them who typically accompanies them to hit the links.

2. Plan intimate client events.
Once you have a good handle on the kinds of events some of your well-connected clients might enjoy, get to planning. Host for them a small group for a wine tasting, golf outing or cooking class, and suggest that they invite their friend/colleague/family member who is interested in the activity chosen. In doing so, the opportunity for an introduction becomes available, without having to ask directly for the introduction.

3. Develop referral alliances.
It is always a good idea to meet with clients’ legal and/or tax professionals, and doing so also provides another opening for affluent client acquisition. Put effort into building business relationships with clients’ CPAs and attorneys by inviting them for coffee, to one of your client events or a sporting event. Twenty-five percent of affluent investors were introduced to their advisors by another professional3, so develop a partnership and share client recommendations with these allies.

4. Make a habit of social prospecting.
At the end of the day, people want to do business with someone they know and trust—or with someone that is recommended by a person they know and trust. Keep that in the back of your mind when you’re socializing, whether at a country club, at a charity event or in the stands at a Little League game. Making a connection that could lead to an important referral can happen anywhere, at any time, so that means that networking social prospecting should also be happening at every opportunity.

The primary takeaway here is that affluent client acquisition begins with the financial advisor’s current book of business. I’d suggest that financial advisors focus first on existing client relationships by listening to clients and engaging them in conversation about what really matters to them personally, and by counseling them through stock market volatility and times of uncertainty. Financial advisors who show this kind of compassion and attentiveness may be in a better position to earn their clients’ trust, which could ultimately help advisors attain personal introductions or referrals.

For more tactics and tips for acquiring affluent clients, visit

1 Oechsli Institute: 2007 - 2015 Research
2 Oechsli Institute: Q1 2015 Research

3 Oechsli Institute: 2015 Research



John Diehl

John Diehl  

Senior Vice President, Strategic Markets Hartford Funds

John Diehl is senior vice president of Strategic Markets for Hartford Funds. He and his team are responsible for engaging and educating financial advisors and their clients about current and emerging opportunities in the financial-services marketplace. These opportunities range from tactical strategies in areas such as retirement-income planning, investment planning, and charitable planning, to anticipating and preparing for long-term demographic and lifestyle changes. John also oversees Hartford Funds’ relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab.

John joined the company in 1988 and was promoted to assistant vice president in 1991 and vice president in 1997. He was named senior vice president in 2007, while he led the Retirement and Wealth Consulting Group, which was responsible for building awareness and knowledge of retirement challenges and the latest planning strategies to address them. In 2012, John was named Senior Vice President, Strategic Markets; in this role, he devotes his efforts to serving the needs of financial advisors and their clients.

John has been widely quoted in consumer and trade publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Planning, and On Wall Street. He has also appeared as a featured guest on CNBC and Bloomberg Television to discuss his views on retirement-related topics.

John attended Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) since 1991. In addition, he holds the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) designations. He is also FINRA Series 6, 7, 63, and 26 registered and holds a life and variable insurance license.

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