When you envision your ideal practice, what does it look like? Have you thought about what it would take to get there? Taking a step back from day-to-day practice management and going through an established business planning process is one of the best ways to answer these questions, and many others.

Done well, business planning can help you grow your practice the way you want to grow it. You can get the right solution-set in the marketplace, the right systems in place, and discover the secrets to success that some of your peers already know.

According to industry leaders, the key is to work with a team from a trusted financial services firm that has a proven track record in practice planning, and to begin the process as early as possible.

“Don’t settle for just self-serve. Work with a proficient and experienced resource that can provide real, live human help catered to your specific practice needs,” says Mike Greene, Senior Vice President, Financial Advice and Advisor Business Development Group at Ameriprise Financial.

In talking to Greene and others, there are four key ways you can use the planning process to jump-start your practice:

1. Learn from your peers

Not a classroom learner? Experiencing fatigue with endless online training videos? Few meetings can be as valuable and motivating as peer-to-peer learning where you can gain best practices from those who’ve already gone through the challenges you are facing now.

Whether it’s a casual mentoring arrangement or a more formalized paid consultant, you can make significant progress quicker by learning from others’ experiences.

2. Create short- and long-term business plans

Successful business planning requires that advisors focus not only on delivering results today, but developing capabilities that will help drive future growth. A business planning consultant can help you develop both the short-term and long-range strategies you need to create your ideal practice. This includes examining how you lead your practice, provide client service, acquire clients, deliver advice and implement solutions.

They can also help you concentrate on what you need most, as well as refine and improve what you already do well. This can be as simple as documenting high-level goals to more complex efforts, such as defining a value proposition that aligns with your practice vision.

3. Manage net flows

With today’s regulatory environment and tightening margins, many advisors are concerned about impacts to their practice profitability. If this is a concern for you, now may be the right time to consider shifting to fee-based compensation such as financial planning or managed account fees for your practice, provided it’s suitable and appropriate for your clients. Key factors to evaluate are your client base, their advice needs, product mix and the services you provide, as well as relevant regulatory and legal requirements.

By migrating to a fee-based compensation structure you can better serve your clients and estimate recurring revenue – you determine your services and fees – and manage expenses to drive practice profitability. In addition, you can work with more clients and maintain positive net flows by building out a marketing plan to acquire new target market clients as your clients begin to spend down in retirement, transfer assets due to death or attrite.

4. Get a “personal trainer”

Struggling specifically with your marketing message? Have your referral muscles atrophied? Have access to a lot of great tools, but don’t know how to tie it all together?

Customized one-to-one support from a personal business coach can make the best use of your time by zeroing in on your greatest needs. And they can serve as an accountability partner so you can go beyond good intentions to actually making a meaningful difference in your practice.

“At Ameriprise Financial, we have more than 60 trained professionals dedicated solely to practice development,” says Greene. “We have this down to a science. Whether it’s converting your data into a client acquisition plan, moving to a fee-based advice business model or simply sharpening your leadership skills, we turn good advisors into great ones every day.”

Hear more success stories from advisors who’ve capitalized on the business development consulting Ameriprise offers at joinameriprise.com.

Hear more success stories from advisors who’ve capitalized on the business development consulting Ameriprise offers at joinameriprise.com.

Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC.
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