Advisor Resolutions for 2014

How do you want to improve your practice in the new year? Financial advisors (and the consultants who work with them) voice the top resolutions for 2014.

5 Smart Advisor Goals for 2014

1. Be Client-Centric 1. Be Client-Centric

Make sure you are delivering a great client experience, says John J. Bowen Jr., CEO of CEG Worldwide and a Financial Planning columnist, who finds that the most successful advisors (those who make at least $500,000 a year) are taking at least one of the following steps:

1. Positioning themselves as wealth managers from the start;

2. Setting a minimum engagement fee requirement for clients;

3. Specializing in serving niches of clients.

2. Be Visionary 2. Be Visionary

According to Bowen, too many advisors think that success will magically find them. However, top advisors know that in order to achieve success advisors must be proactively looking for it and constantly searching for ways to do things better. “Being inventive in this way requires you to develop a vision of your firm and its future,” Bowen says.

Work to inspire people toward the desired end results; communicate your vision in a clear and lively manner. Express your ideas in a simple and direct way that moves and motivates people, Bowen recommends.

3. Surround Yourself With a Strong Team 3. Surround Yourself With a Strong Team

While delegating work to a third-party can certainly be useful, Robert Fross, co-founder of Fross & Fross Wealth Management, suggests strengthening your team so you can delegate work within your firm rather than looking to the outside for help.

Make it a goal in 2014 to surround yourself with strong staff and delegate more, Fross suggests. Many advisors make the mistake of becoming so wrapped up with the day-to-day operations of their firm that they neglect their most important tasks: managing money and meeting with clients. You must surround yourself with strong staff that can handle operational tasks with ease. By strengthening your team and delegating tasks, you will make an impact on your practice that will continue both in 2014 and the years to come, says Fross.

4. Develop a Laser Focus on “Revenue Producing” Activities 4. Develop a Laser Focus on “Revenue Producing” Activities

It is hard to improve on aspects of your practice when you have so many different tasks to worry about. Concentrate on specific areas you want to improve upon this year and make that your main priority, suggests Brad Johnson, vice president of marketing for insurance marketing firm Advisors Excel.

There is a famous tale that billionaire Richard Branson once turned down over $1 million for a one-hour speaking engagement simply because “public speaking” wasn’t one of his three areas of focus for that year. Although an extreme example, financial advisors can learn from Branson’s extreme focus by identifying the activities they perform that maximize revenue for the firm, says Johnson.

Here is Johnson’s short list of his most profitable activities: Seeing new prospects, maintaining revenue producing relationships with existing clients, and performing rainmaking activities like radio, TV and public speaking events.

5. Outline a Client Service Experience 5. Outline a Client Service Experience

One good way to make sure you are best serving your clients and meeting your goals going into the new year is to formalize the client service experience, suggests Michael Conway, CEO of Conway Wealth Group.

Advisors should commit to developing a client service experience outline in 2014. The outline should be written, shared with your team, and ultimately communicated to your clients. Clients deserve to know what to expect when working with you and your team. It's important to not leave the client's experience to chance. Instead, make it clearly defined in 2014, says Conway.

6. Create a “Crash Communication Strategy” 6. Create a “Crash Communication Strategy”

Bowen also suggests developing a crash communication strategy by reaching out to the biggest clients first, then to the ones you think will need the most reassurance. Finally, work your way down the list to smaller clients or the ones who are less sensitive to market fluctuations.

In addition to discussing the situation, Bowen reminds advisors to be sure to ask about something personal – their family, their business and so on. Remind clients that they’re more than just numbers to you.

7. Use Social Media 7. Use Social Media

When Financial Planning asked advisors about their resolutions for the new year on Twitter, we got numerous responses. Travis Sickle, president of Sickle Hunter Financial Advisors, tweeted that one of his goals for the upcoming year is to acquire one client per month via social media.

A powerful tool to disseminate information, social media might also offer a way to attract clients.

8. Build an Online Presence 8. Build an Online Presence

In addition to social media, advisors should look to build an online presence. Adam Thurgood, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Las Vegas, says that this year, his firm is looking further develop blog posting, creating stat pack reports, posting quarterly insight pieces and online portfolio strategy updates.

The world of communication is evolving. People want to know what you’re thinking, but they want to find out on their own time. As a result, advisors with a solid online presence will have a competitive advantage, says Thurgood.

9. Organize Your Tax System 9. Organize Your Tax System

Tax season always creeps up sooner than expected. Caroyln McClanahan, a financial advisor for Life Planning Partners, suggests starting tax organization for 2014 on January 1, so as not to be overwhelmed come April. “You’ll thank yourself for this later,” she says.

Create a folder for income, deductions, and all other tax items and vow to put documents in the file regularly, McClanahan recommends.

10. Get Help 10. Get Help

In order to focus on the important things, many advisors turn to others for help. Some get involved in coaching programs, while others may choose to outsource non-core functions of their practice. Bowen finds that advisors who delegate functions which are outside of their primary duty often find accelerated success, and an ability to better serve their clients and improve their business.

11. Be Fascinating 11. Be Fascinating

Being fascinating means tapping into traits that you possess that make people want to work with you. In order to do so, you must tap into the trait that is most appropriate for the situation.

Say you're talking with a prospective client who is nervous about committing to working with you. Instead of citing the usual performance data, you might tap the passion [trait] by telling stories about why you work as a financial advisor and why it means so much to you to make a difference for your clients, Bowen says. Having an emotional basis is hugely important in developing connections with clients. Tell stories. Present yourself in the right way in the right situations and you can become fascinating.

Good luck in 2014!

Read more: 5 Smart Advisor Goals for 2014