Winning referrals: Five ways to turn your clients into authentic advocates

Who are your firm's ideal clients? What moves them, what challenges them, and what excites them? If you can answer these questions and address your clients' needs, they can—and will—tell their networks about you. Here are a few ways to encourage your clients to get talking.

  1. Foster a referral culture.

    Recognize and capitalize on referrable moments. Look for cues that your clients are happy with your work—it could be as simple as receiving a compliment. That's a perfect time to ask for a referral or review. If you have staff, train them to do the same.

  2.  Ask for and implement feedback.

    If you're getting something right, ask the client to share that with their network. If you have room for improvement, thank them for their insights and consider taking action to enhance your service or offerings.

  3. Create something shareable.

    Post a short video with seasonal or timely advice to your social media channels. Or develop a free guide or checklist that your clients can download from your website. If they share your content, that's an implicit endorsement of your firm.

  4. Invite clients to an event.

    An exclusive invitation-only shindig, a fireside chat with your firm's leadership, or an online educational webinar—all are great ways to deepen your client relationships. Plan the kind of event that will most resonate with your ideal clients and encourage them to invite a like-minded friend.

  5. Reciprocate.

    As appropriate, model the behavior you want to see. If your client is a professional whom you can authentically connect with and recommend to someone else, do so. Ask them to do the same for you.

Remember those first questions: Who are your ideal clients and what moves them? Understanding whom you are best suited to serve will help you lay the groundwork for your referral strategy. In fact, our RIA Benchmarking Study shows that RIAs with a documented ideal client persona (ICP), client value proposition (CVP), and marketing plan attracted 50% more new clients and 62% more new client assets than firms that didn't put these in writing1. So, if you haven't already, get started on your ICP now. Then, take action to move your clients from quiet consumers to vocal advocates.

What you can do next

  • Enroll in our Virtual Practice Management series, Forming Your Foundation. These programs will help you identify and reach your ideal clients by developing a strong ideal client persona and client value proposition. 
  • Consider a custodian that invests in your success. If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, contact us to learn more about the benefits of a Schwab custodial relationship.


1. Median results for all firms with $250 million or more in AUM.

Past performance is not an indicator of future results. 2021 RIA Benchmarking Study from Charles Schwab, fielded January to March 2021. Study contains self-reported data from 1,340 firms. Participant firms represent various sizes and business models categorized into 7 peer groups by AUM.

About the 2021 RIA Benchmarking Study from Charles Schwab
Schwab designed this study to capture insights in the Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) industry based on survey responses from individual firms. The study provides information on topics such as asset and revenue growth, sources of new clients, products and pricing, staffing, compensation, marketing, technology, and financial performance. Since the inception of the study in 2006, more than 4,100 firms have participated, with many repeat participants. Fielded from late January to mid-March, the 2021 study contains self-reported data from 1,340 advisory firms that custody their assets with Schwab or TD Ameritrade and represents over $1.5 trillion dollars, making this the leading study in the RIA industry. Schwab did not independently verify or validate the self-reported information. Participant firms represent various sizes and business models. They are categorized into seven peer groups by AUM size. The study is part of Schwab Business Consulting and Education, a practice management offering for RIAs. Grounded in the best practices of leading independent advisory firms, Business Consulting and Education provides insight, guidance, tools, and resources to help RIAs strategically manage and grow their firm.