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Five Compelling Story Ideas to Build Your Business

By Garrett Keyes November 2, 2018

Telling compelling stories is essential for advisors wishing to win new clients and develop deeper relationships with existing clients, Nikolee Turner, managing director for business consulting at Charles Schwab, said during the Schwab IMPACT conference earlier this week.

Every aspect of an advisory firm should amplify its business, and that includes the stories FAs tell about their practice, she says. Advisors who know how to describe their firm in a way that inspires interest with current and potential clients have a sure-fire method for building their practice, Turner says. Here are her five key story types:

1. Origin Story

Just like comic book superheroes, FAs must be able to describe where their firm came from. But this description needs to come from the heart, not the head. Adding an emotional component to an origin story makes clients “perk up” and listen instead of being lulled to sleep with facts and timelines.

2. Financial Situation Story

Advisors must give prospective clients examples of how the firm has helped other clients in similar situations. But the first step is narrowing target client segments. Says Turner: “Archers aim downrange and shoot at a specific target, not up in the sky. So why shouldn’t advisors?”

3. The Firm’s Offering Story

Giving an example of something their firm does for a specific client – but not for every client – can help develop client relationships. By doing so, advisors demonstrate their dedication to individualized client care. But when telling these stories, FAs should make sure to give their stories distinct characters – real-life clients, sufficiently anonymized for confidentiality. Stories told to clients resonate better when advisors introduce characters to bring the story to life.

4. Referral Process Preview Story

Many clients are hesitant to refer their friends to their FA – but it’s not because they don’t want to. FAs would be surprised how many of their clients avoid referring their friends because the clients are unsure if that's what their advisor wants. And some clients are also concerned that if their FA gains too many new clients, it may impact their own service. So, advisors need to explicitly tell clients they welcome client referrals by using a story with a specific example of a client referral that worked well for everyone involved.

5. Outlier Client Success Story

The outlier client success story is the “wow story.” FAs should give clients a story of how they have delighted or impressed clients far beyond expectations. And make sure it is a “story that is fun to tell and will likely get retold.” By giving new and existing clients a “wow story,” FAs increase the likelihood they will receive new client referrals.