Nov 03 2023
Novel and tested ways to connect with Centers of Influence
By Therese Panganiban
Relationships are often described as the lifeblood of successful financial advising. COIs, by nature, are individuals who already have rich relationships with ideal clients. Three MDRT members from the Philippines share novel and tested ways they have built relationships with their COIs.
Be part of their world
Ana Fanlo, a seven-year MDRT member from Davao City, Philippines, attributes her success as a financial advisor to her connections with COI. Her journey began as a young mother who had just moved to Davao and didn't know anyone in her new city. However, she soon struck up a friendship with another mom from her daughter’s school, who belonged to a prominent family. Her new friend was a valuable COI who opened doors for Fanlo, connecting her to prospects and other COIs, including business owners and public servants in their city.
While luck played a role in introducing Fanlo to these COIs, she emphasizes the importance of putting in the effort to maintain these relationships. She immerses herself in their world by being a regular customer of her friends who are entrepreneurs and supporting her friends who are politicians in their advocacy efforts, particularly in financial literacy and education.
Crucially, Fanlo never rushes or pressures her COIs into providing referrals. She explains: “I value their trust and prioritize being their friend first more than my job as a financial advisor.” However, as she is connected with them on social media, she regularly posts about her professional successes. “This way, their emotional connection to me as a good friend and their understanding of my achievements as a financial advisor keeps me top of mind for these COIs.” When referrals from her COIs prosper and become clients, Fanlo expresses her gratitude by sending them simple, thoughtful thank-you gifts.
Revisit your past
For Jamie Kong, a one-year MDRT member from Parañaque, Philippines, a former employer became a valuable COI. She previously worked for a retail and trading company, where she was groomed to be her boss's right-hand woman. However, she realized selling physical goods was not her calling, leading her to go into financial advisory full time.
Kong maintained positive relationships with her former bosses. “I take care not to burn bridges. I continued to reach out to my former employers throughout life's ups and downs. I greet them whenever they have celebrations and offer my sympathies during times of sorrow,” she shares. When Kong decided to pursue a career in financial advising, she already had a warm prospect.
Knowing that her old boss valued health insurance and was knowledgeable about employee benefits, she encountered little resistance when discussing her proposed policies. Her former boss even endorsed Kong to the company's various branch managers, significantly contributing to her achieving MDRT status.
Also, Kong contacted a previous colleague who had retired to start his architectural firm. She sought possible partnerships through insurance products suitable for the company and its stakeholders. While she focuses on tapping into her natural market, she is learning ways to build relationships with COIs, such as organizing events focusing on digital transformation and innovation themes in their industries, as they will benefit from the exchange among resource persons and other clients. She understands these events can be powerful avenues for in-person networking and facilitating referrals. “It’s easier to start conversations since there’s a mutual interest. Eventually, I’ll open up about my profession as a financial advisor. This way, they’ll know about my job and what I can do for them.”
Complement their service
As he was a senior airline executive before joining the financial advising industry, James Peralta Jr., a 10-year MDRT member from Makati, Philippines, was able to establish connections with airline and travel agency contacts as informal COIs to whom he first offered excellent client service before leveraging them for referrals.
Peralta prioritized efficient handling of their insurance needs whenever they required policies for themselves or their customers. They appreciated his approach because it complemented their service, making it a win-win situation.
“I encourage financial advisors to identify COIs in companies and industries where there is a need for life insurance, such as the travel trade, taxation, and accounting firms.” Once identified, he believes in building genuine relationships with these COIs. “Establishing trust is crucial, and it takes time to develop rapport. Be patient. Begin by understanding their wants and needs before making any recommendations, creating a strong foundation for a fruitful partnership over the long haul.”