How to Ask For Referrals – The Most Effective Way for Financial Advisors

Referrals are a great source of leads.

financial advisors can ask for referrals

As a Coach for Financial Advisors since 2004, the most common strategy I address right away with my new clients is how to ask for referrals.

Most of my finance career clients are not asking for referrals. Most clients are not prospecting for referrals. Just imagine how you could MAGNIFY your practice success if you did BOTH: ask and prospect?

According to a study, there are over six million households with over a million in investable financial assets – a market that is waiting for you to find them. One of the best ways for you to do so, for the benefit of your financial advisory practice, is to be intentional and ask for referrals in natural and authentic ways.

Read on below to learn the why’s and how’s of asking for referrals as a financial advisor.

Referral resources – Here are 7 of my previous blogs about referrals:

1.Financial Advisor Referral Scripts Galore

2.Financial Advisor Storytelling For Referrals

3.Financial Advisor Referral Campaigns

4.11 Magic Words: Financial Advisors and Reciprocal Referrals

5.Financial Advisor Marketing Ideas – Create a Referral Campaign

6.Referral Marketing Ideas – How to Train Clients to Refer Business to You

7.Financial Advisors Should Foster a Referral Attitude in Everything They Do

Referrals: A Rundown of the Numbers

Referrals are high-quality leads for any business — not only subjectively but objectively. Take a look at these statistics from Forbes:

  • Sixty percent of marketers claim that referral programs create a high volume of leads.
  • Fifty-four percent state that referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead compared to other lead-generating programs.
  • Seventy-eight percent of marketers state that referral programs reel in good or excellent leads.

What Are the Two Types of Referrals?

As a financial advisor, you’ll be dealing with two types of referrals, each with its own advantages.

Referral From a Client to a Contact in the Same Field

When a client refers a contact in the same field as them to you, this new prospect is likely highly qualified to work with you. They’re in the same industry as your client and likely have similar problems that you can help them with.

Of course, everyone has a different financial situation, but at least you’ll be working with someone in a field of business that you’re familiar with.

Referral From a Client to a Friend

The second type of referral you can get is from a current client to their friends. Although the prospect will be working in a different industry or may come from a vastly different background, the referral comes with trust. Their friend referred them to you, so they are more likely to trust you as their financial advisor.

What Are the Benefits of Referrals?

Referrals Are Free

The best things in life are free — including referrals.

Referrals are a rare form of marketing that allow you to advertise your financial advisory firm at no or low cost but with significant returns.

Think about this: if you ask for a referral from your customer but gain no new prospects, you waste nothing but a few minutes of your time. If you do gain new prospects from a referral, you get a significant return on your investment.

People Always Know Someone Who Needs a Financial Advisor

Everyone has a diverse range of contacts; they know people from work, from their local community, etc. And it’s more than likely that they know at least a few people who would benefit from your services as a financial advisor. If you ask your client for a referral, they’ll know exactly whom to send your way.

Fewer Pricing Objections

When you work with referrals, people are often willing to pay more since a person they trust recommended you to them. In other words, people who connected with you through a referral are less likely to dispute your fees.

Referrals Lead to More Referrals

You can think of referrals like compound interest — with people instead of money. A referral brings in a new client who, in turn, knows another person who could benefit from your services. And the cycle continues.

Where Should financial advisors Ask for Referrals?

You have many options when it comes to the medium you use to ask your current network of customers for referrals; you can ask them in person, through email, on LinkedIn, or on social media.


After meeting one of your clients in person or through a video call, you can ask them for a referral.

In this digital age, there’s a lot of power in asking for referrals face-to-face. It gives a more personal touch and feels more genuine (and it’s harder for your client to say no or ignore your request).

Email list building

If you’ve been following my earlier blog posts, you should already have a comprehensive mailing list. If not, check out my blog post on email newsletters as an effective marketing tool: Are email newsletters still effective marketing tools for financial advisors?

Asking for referrals through email is an effective way to get new leads. It’s a great way to reach out to professionals who check their inboxes on a daily basis.


LinkedIn is another fantastic way to reach out to your network. It would be best, however, not to write a general post asking for referrals; instead, you can send individual messages to clients you’ve worked with in order to add a more personal touch.

Social Media

As a financial advisor, websites such as Facebook and Twitter are for more than just catching up with friends; these sites help you grow your business.

You can make a general post asking for referrals or — more preferably — send individual messages to your top customers and ask for referrals.

How Do I Ask for Referrals? Select at least 5 ways from this list below

Start With Your Top Clients

Please think of the clients you enjoy working with the most and ask them for referrals. The people in their network whom they will refer to you are likely the type of clients you want to work with.

If you have clients who aren’t exactly ideal (don’t feel bad if a name instantly popped up in your head), still ask for referrals but be cautious about whom they send your way.

You CAN be Direct

Don’t give subtle hints to your clients about wanting referrals and hope they pick up on these hints — they won’t. Instead, directly ask your clients for referrals through the platforms mentioned earlier.

Don’t feel embarrassed or hesitant about asking for referrals; there’s nothing pushy about doing so. After all, people will only give you referrals if they feel like you deserve them.

Make It Personal

When you ask for a referral, for example, on LinkedIn, it would be best to send individual and personalized messages to each of your clients rather than making a public post asking for referrals. Your clients will appreciate the effort, and since your request will be directly targeted toward them, they’ll be more likely to act.

Be Specific

The more specific your request is, the better. If your request for referrals is too vague, it’ll be more difficult for your clients to throw prospects your way; thus, they’ll be less likely to do so.

For example, it would be much easier for your clients to recall a couple of specific people that would benefit from your services as a financial advisor as opposed to “anyone” that could use your services. So, in this situation, it would be best when asking your client for a referral for “one or two people with XYZ needs that could use the help of a financial advisor” instead of “anyone who might be looking for a financial advisor.”

Are you hoping to work with high-net-worth individuals? Or maybe you prefer working with women going through a transition and who need to manage their finances. Either way, you shouldn’t be afraid of telling your clients what kind of referrals you’re looking for.

Remember that the more personal and specific your request is, the more likely it is for your client to remember it.

Be Repetitive

Be repetitive — not annoying.

Asking for referrals shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Your clients meet new people all the time; half a year ago, they may not have had anyone to refer you to. But now, their situation may be completely different.

You CAN use a subtle approach to asking for referrals

Could you ask your clients for a referral in a subtle manner: “When you talk about me to your friends and family, what do you say?”

In the hypothetical situation above, your client will either say, “Oh, I never talk to my family and friends about money,” or they might say, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were looking for referrals.” They may respond this way because you probably aren’t being intentional and proactive about asking for referrals. By not actively seeking referrals, you’re missing out on untapped marketing potential. SO BE INTENTIONAL!

Follow Up

After a client sends a prospect your way, be sure to thank them. You can do so by sending them a simple, handwritten note or a small gift such as a bouquet of flowers.

However, it would be best not to give your client a monetary gift like cash or a gift card. Non-monetary gifts help set up a more natural feeling of reciprocity and a greater sense of community. Monetary gifts, on the other hand, may make your clients feel as though they were paid for sending a referral your way.

Final Thoughts

A referral from your best clients can go a long way in getting prospects to connect with you. Being proactive and intentional about asking for referrals should be a big part of your overall marketing approach.

The tips in this article should give you a head start when asking for referrals. If you need some extra help, check out my post about specific referral scripts which you can use the next time you request a client for referrals.

Contact me today for financial advisor coaching if you need more personalized help building your business through branding, prospecting, and strategic business planning.

About Suzanne Muusers