What Is a Book of Business?

Growing and Maintaining Your Book of Business

Behind a book of business are real people.
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Book of business is an industry term that refers to a salesperson's or professional's list of accounts or clients. Financial advisers are most commonly associated with books of business, but certain other producers might have this terminology applied to their own client lists as well, including insurance sales agents, private bankers, investment bankers, and financial planners. Any nonretail salesperson who regularly services new and repeats clients can legitimately call his client list a book of business, and the term is even used in some professions that are not commonly associated with sales, such as law.

As an example, the average financial adviser at a given firm might have a book of business that includes 100 clients and $100 million in client financial assets.

Maintaining Your Book of Business

A book of business is a living, evolving thing and it can be deep. Ideally, clients and customers are regularly added, which keeps your book of business growing—if you don't allow clients and customers to fall off the list. You might be an automobile salesperson and your client list shifts and grows a little day by day. Don't forget the individual you sold a roadster to two years ago. Maybe he's married and with a child by now and he needs an SUV. Whatever your industry, maintaining a healthy book of business means keeping in touch with existing customers and clients as you cultivate new ones so that you're front and center in their minds when they again have a need that you can fill.

Your book should not just be a list of names with corresponding telephone numbers and contact information.

A good, comprehensive book includes details of each transaction and other data, even personal tidbits. If Joe Roadster did indeed marry, you might note this if you see the announcement online or in the newspaper. It's a great, personal conversation starter should he contact you, not to mention an opening if you contact him to ask him if he's now in the market for a bigger vehicle.

Valuing Your Book of Business

Your book of business obviously has monetary value: it generates income. Depending on your industry, you can define your book's value by the revenues each client contributes to your coffers yearly or monthly. Not only does it offer a measure of personal satisfaction to know what your book of business is worth—particularly as it grows—but it's not uncommon in some industries to actually sell your book to another practitioner. Such a transaction is most common in investment, law, and insurance circles. You're selling your leads when the time comes that your book is no longer useful to you, such as when you retire or if you change careers. Of course, the duty falls upon the new owner of the book to cultivate these relationships. Clients cannot be restrained from moving on if they're unhappy with you or someone else who has taken over your book of business.