Nov 03 2023
Redefining Centers of Influence
By Therese Panganiban
Established Centers of Influence (COIs) in financial advising have long been a tried-and-true strategy for expanding client networks and fostering business growth. Traditionally, COIs referred to professionals such as attorneys, accountants, or real estate agents who could introduce financial advisors to potential clients. However, in the Philippines, three MDRT members have found that it helps to redefine COIs beyond the usual characters to take advantage of local contexts and social dynamics.
Members of prominent families
Certain families are held in high regard in certain communities in the Philippines. This respect isn't solely due to their wealth or power; it's because different members and generations of these families have served or brought value to their towns. Ana Fanlo, a seven-year MDRT member from Davao, Philippines, has had the fortune of befriending a member of one such family, who happened to be a fellow mother at her daughter's school. When Fanlo relocated from Manila to Davao, she didn't know anyone in the area. However, a genuine friendship blossomed as she and her newfound friend often crossed paths while picking up their daughters.
Fanlo became a financial advisor, and her friend was her first client. Moreover, her friend endorsed her to relatives, and thanks to her vast and diverse social circle, Fanlo received additional referrals. This domino effect helped her meet her targets and consistently achieve MDRT status. However, she often reiterates the need for patience and trust in the timing of these relationships. Fanlo highlights that even before discussing insurance with them, she would first spend time supporting them in various aspects of their lives. She would even be their regular customer if they owned a business. "Be a friend first, then a financial advisor later. Especially for COIs with big circles, they likely have other financial advisors in their networks, too. They will refer you because of their relationship with you."
Education and healthcare professionals
Hilda Manalo-Linaac, a three-year MDRT member from Parañaque, Philippines, discovered extraordinary COIs in ordinary situations. As a mother who actively participates in school activities, she sometimes wears a shirt with her insurance company's logo, which caught the attention of the principal, who expressed interest in accident insurance policies for the school community. Linaac believes financial advisors who are actively involved in their children’s school activities have unique opportunities to build COIs in education.
In another instance, she suffered an injury while playing badminton, requiring intensive physical therapy. Even though she was worried her treatments would take her away from work, she saw an opportunity to educate those involved in her therapy about insurance, turning them into potential customers and COIs. Linaac's experiences underscore the importance of making oneself visible as a financial advisor. “I have learned that whatever you wear for the day, whether in your company shirt or a patient gown, always wear your financial advisor hat.”
Linaac stresses converting these connections to one’s advantage takes effort and requires investing in multiple touchpoints, which over time, become trust points. “Come with the intention of building lasting relationships,” she emphasizes.
Ruben Ranin, a one-year MDRT member from Quezon City, Philippines, found that surprisingly, clients who were once non-believers of insurance can become COIs. The fact that they had a “conversion” can be a powerful testimonial to the insurance products and the financial advisors themselves, which was demonstrated to him by an encounter with a prospect who owned a mid-sized company. Given his age and wealth, Ranin was surprised he had no insurance policy. Ranin invested considerable time educating the business owner about the importance of financial protection. “I spent as long as seven hours in his office. I was not sure if I were being effective.” Ranin went home without securing anything at first. A few days later, the business owner called Ranin to secure life insurance for himself and opened doors to discussions with his employees about retirement plans.
Ranin's success, in this case, resulted from thorough preparation as he studied corporate governance and labor laws topics to engage intelligently with the client. Ranin's approach underscores the importance of focusing on education and advocacy rather than immediate conversion. He believes business owners make exceptional COIs because they can influence not only their family and relatives but their employees, suppliers, and partners in their respective fields as well. Ranin believes, “To be referable, financial advisors must consistently deliver a signature level of exceptional service.”