As a financial adviser, it can be easy to lose sight of what you are doing during the day due to constant interruptions, market fluctuations and your regular day-to-day operations. Oftentimes the day unfolds, you get busy and before you know it, hours have passed. It’s important to take a moment or two each day to track what to-dos aren’t getting regularly accomplished or obstacles you are encountering and evaluate how effective your present systems are in handling them. Ask yourself, do you run your business or does your business run you?
Most financial advisers don’t take the time to analyze what I refer to as “the science of systems,” which defines that every task you do should have a system assigned to it and that all systems need to be constantly refined in order to produce consistent positive outcomes. The vast majority of advisers use a “wing it” approach, which is a recipe for disaster. In order to obtain your goals, you need to optimize your systems and not leave your business success up to mere chance.
Author Orison Swett Marden says, “A good system shortens the road to the goal.” But, what if you don’t have a system for creating systems? If so, use the following steps to develop any system.
Step 1: Determine Point “A”
Point “A” is simply a description of what you are currently doing or where you currently are in any particular facet of your business.
When I was a rookie adviser, I wanted to branch out and try seminars as one of my primary forms of prospecting. At that time, my Point “A” (current activity) was doing about three seminars a year—maximum. As a result, I was only earning a small percentage of my new business utilizing this form of prospecting. I had heard that other advisers in the office had built successful businesses via seminars, but I didn’t know how to manage an effective seminar system on a larger scale. I did, however, know that I needed help.
Step 2: Determine Point “B”
Point “B” can be described as where you want or would prefer to be. In other words, it’s your end goal.
In this case, my Point “B” was to have 10 seminars a year. That was a lofty goal, so I decided to find out what other successful advisers—both in my direct office and the company as a whole—were doing. Surprisingly, I found a few advisers who were reducing their overhead costs by offering their services to associations and corporations as a keynote speaker at their events. This gave me new insight into how to obtain my goal.
Step 3: Re-engineer the Steps
The final step is to map out an updated system. Ironically, what I have found with any system is that it’s best to actually begin with Point “B” in mind and map out the steps, but in reverse. Let me show you what I mean.
I knew that it took, on average, about six weeks from start to finish to market, coordinate and plan to put on a seminar. So I grabbed a calendar and circled all the first Tuesdays of a month, excluding the three summer months and December. That left me with eight seminar dates. Next, I backtracked what specific items I needed to be sure had to happen in weeks five, four, three, two and one, and I put those into my contact management system. Then, I determined that on some weeks I had to work simultaneously on various steps for multiple seminars, since there was overlap with back-to-back months. In addition, I added in prospecting to associations and corporations to see if they needed a keynote speaker so that I could add at least two additional seminars during the year for free. Lastly, I set up my time to work on my seminar system to be at the same time each week so nothing slipped through the cracks. I did 10 seminars that year.
Why the Science of Systems Works
The reason why the “science of systems” works is because you have a repeatable process for attaining goals. I realize that this line of reasoning may sound simple—and in essence it is. We tend to make things harder for ourselves when simple solutions exist.
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Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.