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4 Goals Advisors Should Set, But Don’t

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Quit recycling your goals. If your 2014 goals mirror your 2013 goals, it’s time for a new game plan. Those goals may not reflect what you want or what you need – personally or professionally. Some of the best ways to improve your practice may call for you to step away from traditional goals and work on what you find relevant.

Here are four goals advisors should be setting, but often don’t.


Spread the news that you’re grateful, that you’re successful and that you’re striving to get even better. Reassure clients you are the best advisor for them, without them asking for the proof.

Make this the year you start a tradition to send clients and professional alliances a business update letter. What’s in the letter?

  • Let them know what’s great about your business – and how you plan to continue it.
  • Inform them how you’re improving your business/service — and how they will experience the change.
  • Thank them for their role in your firm’s success – and how they can contribute further to it.

I recommend that you announce a formal client survey. (And then actually do it.) Less than 22% of financial advisory practices conduct formal client surveys, according to data from the FPA.

Commit to a single process for improvement and focus your energy on making it absolutely flawless.

Hiding from sub-par processes – or a specific aspect of your business that needs improvement – will not make it go away, nor is it likely to self-correct. Instead, face that challenge head on.

For example, if the chief client-facing process, the (sometimes feared) introductory meeting, is on your mind, focus your time, talent and team on improving it. Plan out the steps for change. Build your Ideal process. Script it out. Workflow it. Meet with your team about it. Enhance it. Implement it.

Make it your most professional, repeatable, referable process.


Have a serious discussion with individual team members about their performance. Better yet, have two! Schedule discussions mid-year and at the end of the year.

Begin by putting away the excuses. It’s no secret that bosses or managers dread formal performance reviews. The following objections no longer serve as an excuse:

o These meetings take too much work/preparation.
o These meetings make me uncomfortable.
o These meetings require energy, attention, serious dialogue and follow-up. Ugh!

Move past that, starting now. Performance reviews are an incredibly valuable part of business communication. This is your opportunity to build morale, focus efforts and share your vision.
Your team members should know exactly where they stand, what they do well, and where they can improve. Be a leader. Give constructive feedback as a gift.


This is the most tactical of all the goals discussed so far. You probably have a growth plan now that suggests gaining more clients, increasing AUM and revenue for your practice. That plan needs to grow to include goals you can achieve and put action items on the table. What could these goals look like? It depends on your specific practice, but consider these for inspiration:

Goal: More purposeful networking.
Action Item: Schedule one business lunch per week. Reach out to professional alliances or centers of influence to build relationships, visibility and credibility.

Goal: Grow with referrals.
Action Item: Let your top clients know you’d like more clients like them. Have one (real) referral conversation each week.

The goals you create for personal and professional growth need to become part of your overall business plan. That is part of what makes them valuable and keeps them from getting lost somewhere in a stack of papers for when 2015 rolls around, ready to be used again.

Chris Kirby is a business consultant for Securities America's Practice Management Group and serves as a consultant/coach for the firm’s Business Consulting Service, helping advisors manage a more efficient, profitable and satisfying practice.

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