Sep 13 2022
The impact of networking in the insurance industry in India
By Rhea Bidnurkar
Having a list of potential or prospective clients is an imperative starting point for financial advisors. When Girish N Bhatia, an eight-year MDRT member from India, started his own agency in 2001 after a five-year stint at a bank, he capitalized on the clients that he had already met as prospective clients but this time, for a completely new product.
However, the transition was not easy because Bhatia was viewed by prior clients as someone who pitched a banking product such as loans. He also noticed the list of contacts he had cultivated working at the bank was depleting, without new additions. To focus on his financial advisory business, he started organizing one-day events in different companies, such as Orange and Vodafone. “Adding to my client base is imperative to make my business keep growing. I now know how to tap an industry for it and how to reach out for it to expand my network,” he says.
Steps to build a strong foundation with a potential client
Bhatia believes that documenting the client is the first step, accompanied by calling the client for an introduction. The call needs to reflect sincere intent in offering a product of immense value and benefit to the client and their family. Gathering specific financial information is important to enable the financial advisor to suggest the right product. This also requires an analysis of the client’s requirements, according to Bhatia, to highlight the gaps in their current portfolio for insurance or retirement planning.
The client needs to see that the solution provided can make his or her investments more secure. This requires gathering information through calls and diligent action in identifying the client’s needs before the first meeting. Bhatia collates this information into a presentation structured on the basis of identifying the client’s needs and respective solutions and options. Avoiding complications is important. The presentation needs to be relevant, with examples for the client to relate to.
It is also important to observe the client’s personal and business skills, and acknowledge their success. He believes in connecting with a client over what is important to them. “Carrying a book for an avid reader, taking a food enthusiast to lunch, and keeping in mind the entire family of the prospective client at the time of the meeting makes a strong case for building a stronger foundation with the client,” he adds.
A strong online presence on social media, such as Facebook, worked in Bhatia’s favor. He has been consistently building his personal social media profile with original content posts and contributing content to Facebook groups. He believes the benefit of maintaining an online presence paid dividends in the years of the pandemic that followed 2020. New business saw a tremendous push in this time coming in from online engagement. However, he does add that he has not cracked the recipe for value-added services leading to retentions and referrals.
Networking ‘musts’ for financial advisors
Bhatia shares some of his strategies for financial advisors to strengthen their networking practices.
1. By organizing events for engagement with specific industries in India, you will get to expand your network and to get a foot in the door. It is imperative to help the HR team in the company understand the value proposition and benefits of financial products and insurance to the company staff. It is also helpful to have explanatory pamphlets on hand when meeting the employees there to offer tailored products.
2. Events in gated societies and sponsored events during festivals and national celebrations can attract the right crowd of prospective clients. Advertising your brand at such events can be helpful, such as having potted plants with your brand logo.
3. He also believes that networking, through selected Facebook groups is essential, where posting relevant content can lead to generate an industry network in the future.
4. To fulfil his goal of expanding his client network, Bhatia believes in going a step further for existing clients, so that he can receive referrals from them.
5. He also believes the most important attribute to a flourishing business is consistency. Following through with the processes in place every day is what makes his business grow. The content released by financial advisors needs to be relevant and fresh, and in a state of constant evolution to meet their clients’ needs.
Understanding the needs of the client is imperative in tailoring the approach to the products offered. With his lucid approach to solving networking issues, Bhatia believes consistency and evolution will separate you from the crowd as a financial advisor.