There are more wealthy people in the United States today than at any time in our nation’s history. In 2017, more than 700,000 Americans became first time millionaires and it’s estimated that new billionaires are popping up at the rate of one every other day. Many people who were already wealthy became even more so thanks to prolonged bull markets and favorable changes in tax laws.
A Perfect Storm for Acquisition
While all this has been happening, aging financial advisors are retiring from the profession at a rate faster than they are being replaced. The increase in the number of wealthy Americans coupled with a decrease in the number of working advisors should spell a perfect storm of new business opportunities. Surprisingly, this has not been the case. Over 60% of advisors identify meeting new client acquisition goals as the number one challenge they face.
The situation begs the question: if there are more prospects and fewer advisors, why are many advisors struggling to meet new business objectives? The answer is simple. They are looking for new business in all the wrong places.
The frustration advisors feel as they search for new business is akin to what someone might experience when playing the “Where’s Waldo” game. Waldo is a bespectacled cartoon character dressed in a gaudy red and white striped sweater. The object of the game is to spot him in a large crowd of people, a task that sounds simple because of his garish appearance. In reality, finding Waldo is anything but easy. The only way you can see him is if you search with eagle-eyed perception, discipline and patience.
Waldo is the perfect metaphor for today’s new breed of millionaires. Like Waldo, they are hiding in plain sight. Unlike Waldo, they are vast in numbers. They are everywhere, just waiting to be found. You just have to know where to and how to look.
Adjust Your Perceptions
Advisors find it difficult to spot today’s nouveau riche because they don’t typically think, look or act like the wealthy of yesteryear. They worked hard to acquire their money rather than have it handed down from a prior generation and most of them are still working. You don’t see them at fancy fund raising events because many are working long hours and weekends at their businesses. You won’t find them socializing at a medallion ball because they are more interested in attending their children’s little league or soccer ball games. They wear Timex watches instead of Rolexes and Levi jeans instead of tuxedos.
Advisors cross paths unawares with the new rich every day. It could be the man who owns the garage that repairs your car, the woman who operates the dry cleaners where you take your shirts or the family that franchised one pizza shop into a regional chain. They may not look like the wealthy you know, but their assets can be and often are significant.
See What Others Can’t
Looks can be deceiving, especially when trying to profile the new generation of millionaires in America. They are different from old money clients. Their wants and needs have changed. Advisors must begin to understand that appearances give a glimpse of the unseen.
Changing your perception is just part of the new acquisition success formula. You will also have to change the conversation. These masked millionaires will shed their identities to advisors who are able to connect with them on deeply personal levels. They will open up to you about their involvement in the local Rotary Club, their interest in their daughter’s softball team or a dream vacation they are planning. Before you tell them your story, ask for and listen to theirs with your head and your heart. You might find that your next great prospect is someone you already know if you’ve been paying the right type of attention.
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