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Practices urged to develop ‘culture of referral’

Practices should develop a culture of referral rather than just a process of referral to boost their client numbers, it has been claimed.

Dean Lombardo, co-founder of Access Financial Management in Melbourne, said that through his business model, he has been able to boost client referral numbers.

“Everyone who comes into our business, from the moment they come in, because they come in from a referral process, is taught that that is how our business grows,” he said.

Mr Lombardo developed the business model “Benchmarking”, which helps shift the adviser-client relationship to one of mentoring and coaching.

He claimed his client referrals were boosted from one in nine to one in six after implementing the strategy.

Mr Lombardo said that to provide clients with “true peace of mind” and increase the likelihood of referrals, advisers must have clarity about their relationship with their clients and their brand; knowledge and empowerment; and the ability to illustrate measurable progress to their clients.

Gary O’Sullivan, principal at Blueleaf Consulting in Sydney, said advisers must focus on building referral networks in the face of legislative changes.


He said that advisers should develop a communication strategy to generate business, suggesting that advisers engage with their clients in “informal” ways, such as a casual meeting over coffee.

Meanwhile, Pina Sciarrone from AIA Australia, said advisers should also capitalise on client engagement reviews.

She suggested advisers should ensure the client review is 100 per cent about the client; that it is held in the adviser’s office; that there is a progress plan and pre-meeting questionnaire; and that it involves others from the practice.

Ms Sciarrone added that advisers should regularly review their cost of delivery and find out which clients highjack most of their time.