In this new era of fee disclosure, many financial advisors are bracing for client flight and stepping up their prospecting efforts, says Carrie Kimberley, director of practice management at Credential Financial in Vancouver.

"There's going to be more money in motion in early 2017," Kimberley says. "The savvy advisor will use it to their advantage."

Whether you plan to re-engage cold prospects or leverage old connections, here are some ideas on how you can elevate your prospecting game:

> "Start with why"
People can detect a generic sales pitch the moment you launch into one. It's far more effective to lead with an explanation of why you do your job, Kimberley says, as opposed to what you do.

She takes cues from Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why. In that book, Sinek asserts that leaders can garner a receptive audience by leading conversations that centre on the motivations and intentions behind their work.

For example, you can draw prospects in with a story about why your work matters to you — and the clients you serve.

> Offer a second opinion
Make yourself available to clients and prospects to assess the investments they hold at another firm.

For example, Credential has templates that advisors can send out to prospects and clients, offering to review their performance report from investments held elsewhere.

Sending out "feelers" in this way provides an opening for you to broach the possibility of consolidating their accounts under your management. While people have many reasons for retaining more than one advisor, Kimberley says, some might be more inclined to keep only one when they realize the fees can be lower.

> Always be curious
If you express curiosity, clients might open up about the things and people that matter to them. You might start with a casual conversation about how they spent their weekend, and end with a lead for you to nurture over time.

"You never know what you're going to learn," says Larry Distillio, assistant vice president of practice management at Mackenzie Investments in Toronto. "The key is to probe and record."

That strategy will help you map out your clients' personal networks — people who could be your ideal prospects, Distillio says. Once you know exactly how you're in a position to help their contact, you can work your way up to asking for an introduction.

> Ground your responses in stories
It's tempting to offer stock, rehearsed responses when prospects ask the same questions:  "What is it you do?" or "How's business?" You might say that work is busy and that you look after people's assets. But these answers would reveal little of what it is that differentiates you from your competition.

Instead, when asked how business is, take the opportunity to share a success story, Distillio says.  Reveal aspects of the business that you're most excited about and any plans you might have. 

For example, you might share your plan to hold a seminar for entrepreneurs. "It's important to respond in a way that promotes storytelling and conversation at the same time," Distillio says.

This is the first part in a two-part series on prospecting. Next: Developing your prospecting game plan.

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