Financial Advisors

The Duality of Marketing and Prospecting for Financial Advisors

A recent industry whitepaper (“Rebuild Your Marketing Muscle,” Orion Advisor Tech) found that majority of AUM growth for financial firms and their advisors alike is primarily driven either by mergers and acquisitions or market appreciation. Organic growth, the paper goes on to note, is the solution.

From my 35-year industry vantage point, I’ve grown to notice an inherent problem within the industry that appears to fuel this situation.  At the heart of this dilemma is the misunderstanding, by advisors and the industry as a whole, of the duality of marketing and prospecting for the purpose of client acquisition.

Merriam-Webster dictionary describes duality as “the quality or state of having two different or opposite parts or elements." It’s the “two different parts” of client acquisition that seems to confuse advisors en masse. Marketing is not prospecting, and prospecting is not marketing. In the minds of most advisors, prospecting = challenging and demeaning; marketing = creative and professional. Used in combination for the purpose of client acquisition, however, marketing and prospecting can be viewed as the yin and yang of client acquisition. 

In our training and coaching of advisors, we first look to separate the roles of marketing and prospecting, and then show how they’re brought together to ensure an advisor is actively and continuously growing his or her client base.

Marketing, we suggest, is the activity of promoting an advisor’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP): WHO they work with, WHY they work with that cohort, HOW they go about working with them, and finally, WHAT their clients achieve by working with them. Of course, the promotion is focused very specifically on their target market: their Ideal Client Profile (their WHO).

Prospecting, on the other hand, is taking that marketing message directly to their Ideal Prospect with the intent of asking that person for the opportunity to meet to discuss how they might be able to help them with their personal finances. The “ask” might be for a short, introductory meeting, either face-to-face or virtually, or for a full “discovery” meeting where they’ll delve into the prospect’s personal goals and finances.

An advisor’s marketing can encompass numerous media, including:

  • social media
  • podcasts
  • print advertising
  • radio or television
  • word-of-mouth

Successful prospecting methodologies include:

  • targeted introductions
  • membership in a networking group
  • seminars and webinars
  • client and guests events

Interestingly, most advisors new to the business dive (or are thrown) directly into the deep end of the prospecting pool, with little in the way of a personal marketing message, relying on their firm’s generic marketing message for support. They cold-call, they door-knock, they ask for referrals, etc. In fact, they do whatever they’re willing to do to get the next appointment – which mostly leaves the negative impressions that prospecting is famous for. Sadly, a great many of these newcomers wash-out of the business relatively quickly – often the victims of entry-level prospecting activities that are unsupported by a great marketing message. 

The majority of survivors, however, gradually develop their own marketing message, and over time, drop most of the prospecting activities that helped them succeed in the beginning.  Their excuses for doing so usually range from “I get all my clients from referrals” to “I’m too busy servicing my existing clients.”  Either way, they tend to drop the prospecting activities that helped get them to where they are as soon as financially possible. Some will get involved in marketing programs that put their message out to consumers, but they tend to lack – or be supported by – a prospecting methodology that leads them directly to that all-too-necessary introductory conversation with an Ideal Prospect

Top producers, on the other hand, have almost always figured out the duality of client acquisition. They develop a great marketing message (UVP), targeted at their Ideal Client Profiles, that they spread across various media, while utilizing different prospecting methodologies that ultimately lead to a continuous stream of new clients. They are the minority who drive organic growth, regardless of market conditions.

Recognizing this marketing and prospecting duality of client acquisition, and then employing the necessary activities to achieve sustainable growth is not only learnable, but once implemented, it’s a virtual guarantee to achieving top-producer status. It’s not marketing or prospecting; it’s the duality of marketing and prospecting that will kick-start organic growth and support an advisor’s climb to the top.

To learn more, contact us at: or 1-833226-2242.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Daniel Collison

Daniel Collison is the Managing Partner with financial education firm Advice2Advisors, which trains, mentors, and coaches financial advisors of all tenures. Dan has over 30 years in the industry and spent the first 10 years of his career as a financial planner, ultimately, moving into increasingly senior managerial roles, before co-founding A2A.

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