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How to Build a Robust Referral Network as a Financial Planner

Chris Mauriello February 23, 2023

A group of professionals at a networking event.
Updated on: October 24, 2023

Leveraging a referral network is a powerful way for financial professionals to generate leads, gain new clients, and build a positive professional reputation.

Whether you’re just starting to build your referral network or you’re looking to expand, here are three steps to grow your business through referrals.

Step One: Choose the Referral Sources You Want to Target

Your first step in building a robust referral network is to determine the type of people you want to include in your network. Along with your current client base, there are numerous professionals who come into contact with people who fit your ideal client profile.

Here are some of the most common referral sources for financial professionals:

Your current clients: One of the best referral sources for financial advisors is their network of existing clients. Maximize your clients’ experiences and turn them into advocates to increase the number of quality referrals you get from them.

Professionals who offer complementary services: Partner with trusted professionals in areas outside of your expertise, such as CPAs, lawyers, tax professionals, and mortgage professionals. If you are CFP® professional, keep in mind that there are duties you must satisfy when recommending another service provider to your clients.

Other financial advisors: If you work with a specific segment of clients, build connections with other financial advisors who serve segments outside of your niche. That way, not only will your clients always get the advice they need, but you may receive more referrals in your niche.

Human resources representatives: People are often in need of advice during a major life event such as a job change, marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or a death in the family. HR representatives and consultants are often in-the-know when these events happen. If you build a relationship with them, they may refer people who are in a transitionary period to you.

Executive recruiters: Recruiters who work with executives are among the first to know when someone has a new, well-paying job. Since you may work with similar high-net-worth clientele, you can build a mutually beneficial relationship where you send your clients to them when they need a recruiter and vice versa.

Casting your net wide will help you maximize the benefits of having a referral network. The sources listed here are a few of the most common referral sources for financial professionals, but don’t be afraid to branch out and make connections with professionals in other fields who work with the same type of clientele you do.

Step Two: Find and Build Relationships with Your Referral Sources

Once you know the type of professionals you want to include in your network, it’s time to get in contact and start building relationships with them.

If you’re just starting to build your referral network, there are a variety of ways to find and get in touch with the connections you’re looking for. Some of your options include:

  • Joining local organizations and societies
  • Attending professional networking events
  • Participating in conferences and seminars where you can connect with other professionals in the industry

You can also expand your network by asking your clients if they already work with a professional in a complementary area, such as a CPA or attorney. If you already have clients in common, there’s a good chance that there are already opportunities for you both to refer clients to each other.

Start the conversation by asking about whether you can refer other clients of yours to them. When building new relationships, you always want to offer something to the other person first so that you can create a mutually beneficial partnership in the future.

Step Three: Earn Referrals from Your Network

If you want the people in your newly established network to give your referrals, then you have to earn them.

Here are five tips for building a positive reputation within your referral network:

1. Deliver an exceptional client experience: Getting referrals starts with providing quality service to your clients. Satisfied clients will be more likely to refer you to their friends and family members. Other professionals, who stake their reputation on the recommendation of your services, will also be more likely to send referrals your way when they’re confident you’ll take care of their clients.

2. Build a visible online presence: In today’s digital world, a prospective client will go to your website and social media accounts first to learn more about you and your business. An up-to-date website gives your sources of referral a place to point their clients to. You want to make the process of referring someone to you easy, so make sure they can find your contact information and learn everything they need to know about you on your website.

3. Treat your network with courtesy: Be sure to stay in touch with the people in your network. After you connect with someone who has been referred to you, follow up with the referrer to say thank you. And remember—your network is a two-way street, so you need to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with your connections. If you refer potential clients to them, they will be more likely to refer potential clients to you.

4. Give every referral the respect they deserve: Treating every referral you get with care and respect, even if they are not your ideal client, will help you build a positive reputation. If your services are not the right fit for someone who is referred to you, be sure to pass them along to someone in your network who is a better fit for their needs.

5. Be a good citizen of your community: People like to give business to professionals who are doing good in their community. Whether that’s through being a member of the Kiwanis or the Rotary Club, performing community service, or serving your community in another way, being an engaged member of your community is another way to earn trust and referrals from your network.

Grow Your Business Through Your Referral Network

Building and maintaining your referral network is a task that’s never complete. If you continuously work to develop relationships with your clients and the other professionals in your referral network, you will keep a steady stream of referrals coming to your business.

Looking for more ways to grow your business? Explore six digital tactics for building a sales pipeline from scratch to get more strategies for attracting prospective clients to your practice.


DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

Image of Chris Mauriello
About the Author

Chris Mauriello, Financial Planning Practice Management Consultant, has been helping eMoney clients at every level for 6 years. Starting as a Customer Service Rep, Chris’s passion for helping advisors implement and use eMoney led him to become a Client Success Coach, then a member of the Live Training Team, and ultimately to his current position, where he helps firms scale their planning services to deliver more personal, impactful advice.

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