Financial advisors contact me regularly to ask for ideas on how to grow their practices by acquiring corporate executive clients. Having been in the equity compensation guidance space for 20 years I've seen what works and what doesn't. Here are some do's and don'ts for pursuing this market:
Do have a few questions and an elevator pitch memorized for whenever you meet an executive that receives equity compensation (i.e. employee stock options and restricted stock/units). Read this article on the Four Questions to Ask Employees with Equity Compensation. These questions will set you up to deliver an elevator pitch that should describe succinctly how you can provide value. For example, "my firm will help you maximize the value of your company stock and options via quarterly review sessions/reports and nightly decision criteria monitoring of your Insight Ratios, vesting and expiration dates, concentration levels, and goal attainment."
Don't treat your prospects better than your clients. Provide equity compensation assistance to your clients before pitching it to prospects. It makes no sense to offer this guidance to prospects if you aren't delivering it to existing clients. Use loyal clients to develop an effective executive services program and hone your expertise. This will make engaging corporate executive prospects much easier and will drive more assets under management from existing clients.
Do remember to ask every client and prospect whether they or their spouse receives equity compensation. Clients don't always remember to mention their company stock and option grants especially if the stock price is down. Consequently, you may have clients with equity compensation that you don't know about. Make it a habit to ask any employee of publicly traded or private companies if they receive stock options and/or restricted stock grants otherwise you could be missing out on a long-term opportunity.
Don't focus your marketing efforts on HR departments. Marketing to companies via HR takes connections, expertise, resources and lots of time. If you don't have all of these consider starting with the "referral" approach. Asking for referrals from clients you are currently providing equity compensation assistance is a tried and true method of engaging executives. It will also provide you with enough high level company contacts over time to get your foot in the door with HR if you so choose.
And finally, don’t give up on an executive prospect too quickly. Even if they didn't show too much interest in getting help with their equity compensation, the opportunity is not lost. Try showing them a sample equity compensation risk analysis and encouraging them to provide you with their grant summary information. Creating and explaining a comprehensive company stock and option report will demonstrate your expertise and provide tangible insights. If this is still not enough send them an updated report after a couple of weeks. A small change in stock price can have a dramatic impact on the value of their options. Equity compensation is complicated so persistence and patience pays off.
There is no magic to engaging corporate executives. Remember, they are very interested in maximizing the value of their equity compensation so providing them with a framework for making timely and informed decisions is not a hard sell. Just work smart by following these "do's" and avoiding the "don'ts" and you will see results.
Bill Dillhoefer is the CEO of Net Worth Strategies, Inc. a software firm specializing in professional equity compensation risk analysis and tax planning tools. Bill has been with the firm since 2000 and became its CEO in January 2018. Connect with him on LinkedIn.