The industry has changed and it is more important than ever to have a plan, not merely to survive, but indeed to thrive in today’s environment. Creating a simple road map can be the difference between growth and stagnation.
At a minimum, we believe that you should consider these three critical questions, commit your ideas to paper and create an implementation plan with time frames and accountability.
1.) How will you drive retention?
Client retention is the foundation for the long-term viability of your firm. You must consistently deliver the appropriate client experience for each of your client segments.
- Communication: Do you have a systematized client communication plan? Are you communicating value with the right frequency and maximizing your delivery mediums? Are you offering educational opportunities to help clients better understand their plan and the financial terrain?
- Appreciation: Do your clients know that you appreciate them? Do you need to go beyond birthdays and holidays and deliver more creative or personalized appreciation?
- Expectations: Do you really know if you are meeting, falling short, or exceeding client expectations? Do you execute surveys or offer service commitment or expectation meetings to review the value of your deliverables? Do clients understand the totality of your offerings?
2.) How will you drive efficiency?
In an increasingly complex industry with expanding requirements, efficiency and scalability are critical to long-term success.
- People: Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined and aligned? Are you leveraging your talent?
- Systems: Are all repeated activities systematized? Do you have standard operating procedures documented in a shared folder for all to access? Is your business scalable?
- Time and technology: Do you really know where and with whom you are spending your most precious resource—time? Technology can be a time-drain or a time-saver. Is every team member maximizing technological resources?
3.) How will you drive growth?
We could all fill our days by simply dealing with the reactive; however, high-performance financial planners stay committed to growth.
- Organic growth: Do clients consider YOU their primary advice provider? Have you fully served them? Are you developing multiple generational relationships? Where can you leverage your existing relationships?
- Introductions: Are you referable? Do your clients proactively provide qualified introductions? How robust are your centers of influence? Are you delivering value to partners who have the propensity to connect you with ideal prospects?
- Marketing: How strong is your brand identity? Who is your niche audience and how can you attract more ideal prospects through off-line and online marketing avenues? Based on your demographics, what type of marketing (advertising, seminars, mail campaigns or event marketing) makes sense for your practice?
- Expand the team: For firms that are fully systematized but at capacity, you may consider bringing on new advisers/planners as your most vital growth strategy. Be sure to consider your “ideal” candidate and conduct full due diligence so as not to upset the culture of the firm.
What decisions will you make and what actions will you take to drive retention, efficiency and growth in 2017?
Sarah E. Dale
Krista S. Sheets