Target financial planners as a new referral sourceSteve Brewerfinancial planners, referrals, lead generation Loan officers traditionally rely on real estate agents for the bulk of their referrals. If you have 20 years in the business and a proven network of real estate agents, this method works very well. However, what do you do if you're new to the business and find that all the real estate agents are already working with someone else? What if your current efforts are not generating enough referrals? If you are in this situation, consider targeting financial planners. Their numbers are growing, and many do not have a current outlet for referrals. With some tenacity and follow-up, you can build a network of financial planners that generates a steady stream of high-quality referrals. The number of financial planners is growing all the time targeting the 75 million baby boomers and their upcoming retirement needs. There is also a low barrier to entry in this field, which helps fuel the growth. Some financial planners establish their own small companies, while others work with large companies. What all planners have in common is that they offer advice and recommendations for the financial needs of their clients, who are typically middle class or upper class families. In the course of these discussions, planners are often in a position to recommend mortgage loan officers to their clients. In recent discussions with financial planners, I have been surprised by how many do not have an outlet for mortgage recommendations. One successful planner told me that many just tell their clients to "look in the phone book under 'mortgage.'" I would estimate that between one-fourth and one-half of all planners dont have a mortgage loan officer they consistently recommend to clients. Large national companies have approved mortgage programs for their planners to use. They often work with national lenders to establish turnkey programs backed by call centers. However, financial planners are not typically required to refer clients to these approved programs. This is because most planners are not employees, but independent businesspeople who work with a national company, not for one. In this respect, they are similar to real estate agents. As a result, planners can generally refer clients elsewhere if they like someone else better-someone like you. Develop a list of those planners you will contact. You can't target everybody, so decide what type of financial planner you will go after. You might target all planners in a certain city or independent planners operating their own companies. Ask everyone you know for names. Check your Chamber of Commerce and other professional associations-even the phone book! Decide on your sales message and then contact the planners on your list to set up in-person appointments so you can introduce yourself. You might simply call everyone, or you might want to warm them up with a creative mailing first. The follow-up is probably the most important step. Follow up your initial contact with helpful information: a simple rate sheet or more reasons to work with you. Don't be annoying, but be sure to follow up tenaciously and professionally. Once you have established a working relationship with a financial planner, you should start to receive high-quality leads. Upper-income consumers are more likely to work with a planner, so the majority of referrals should be A-quality borrowers, and many might be jumbo borrowers. Establishing a financial-planner network is not easy, but it can be rewarding. If you can help the planner help his or her clients, everyone wins. The client saves money and receives good service, the planner has a happy client, and you have a loan. If your current efforts aren't producing enough referrals, consider working with financial planners. Their numbers are growing, and their clients need what you offer. Steve Brewer is the owner of Eureka Marketing Services. Contact him at (612) 417-9594 or [email protected].