SAN DIEGO - In a presentation given by Beverly Flaxington, president of advisors trusted Advisor, at the 15th annual TD Ameritrade Institutional annual conference, advisors learned how to focus their business (and their resource) to improve their effectiveness.

1. Capture ideas in writing.  Research shows that the most successful advisors use a written plan.  There is no need to write a novel.  It is really about taking the time to write down what success looks like.

2. Ask the right strategic questions.  What should be captured in a mission?  What is your firm’s objective?  What does success look like?  How to know if the firm is on the right track?  What is the market seeking from the firm in terms of needs?  What does the firm offer to the market (ie. products and services)?  What is the strategy for different markets?  Who is the competition?  What are the competitive advantages?

3. Think of sales as a good thing.  On the marketing side, advisors should define the value propositions and positioning.  On the sales side, advisors need to determine tactically what are we doing day-to-day.  Also ask, who is responsible for sales?  Is selling considered as important compared to other activities in your firm?  The truth is that advisors do not typically become investment and planning professionals because they want to be in sales.  Still, it is not 100% realistic to expect that by doing the right thing, new clients will naturally come in the door.

4. Take advantage of the best sources of new business.  Client referrals, centers of influence, direct selling, referrals from custodian, and social media. (Ranked in order.)

5. Utilize best tactics for new business.  Event marketing, speaking at events, client seminars (bring a guest), email marketing, advertising, writing bylined articles, cold calling, social media, and hosting a radio program or being a regular commentator.  (Ranked in order.)

6. Benefit from CRM.  Need to document sales activities to stay on track.  Popular software options, ranked in order: ACT,, Junxure, custom/in-house, and Redtail.

7. Optimize the organization.  Try to do more with less.  Look at your time as a resource and be more effective with it.

8. Avoid time wasters.  Attempting too much, travel, poor communication, telephone and email interruptions, not matching activity to opportunity, treating all clients the same, confused responsibility or authority, doing ‘to dos’ but not by priority, delegation skills are ineffective, drop-in visitors, inability to say ‘no’, having incomplete info, and leaving tasks unfinished.

9. Manage oneself.  Take breaks.  Step away to clear your mind and think of the big picture.  Don’t lose energy on things that are not going to benefit you.

10. Get your team organized.  Communicate clearly and make sure everyone knows what they are doing.  A common mistake is that the owner or manager assumes the staff knows exactly what they should do.  Know how to delegate.  Leverage the people that work for you.  Align people with their skills, and remember, you can’t always fit a square peg in a round hole.

At the end of the day, it is all about focus.  Have a plan to know where to be most effective.

Note:  In a show of hands at the conference, most of all attendees thought that at least one thing in this presentation is something they are going to work on.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful.  His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas.  Read more at