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Best of the Blog 2019: Part II

We hope you got everything on your wish list this holiday season and that your credit card is starting to cool down from all that shopping.

We got what we wanted this year—lots of great content from our writers. Here is a continuation of the top 10 most-read posts of 2019.

In case you forgot what the first five were, see this post. Here’s the rest:

6.) Three Ways the SECURE Act Will Impact Clients with Stretch IRAs

This article by Matt Sommer of Janus Henderson Investors dove into how the SECURE Act would affect clients with Stretch IRAs. Key takeaways regarding the Stretch IRA provision include a new 10-year period for non-spouse beneficiaries, existing stretch IRAs are grandfathered, and there are exceptions to the new rules. Stay tuned to the Journal of Financial Planning’s February issue for a deeper dive into what the SECURE Act means for you and your clients.

7.) “Buying” College in the 21st Century: Clients Should Search for Colleges They Can Afford

You wouldn’t pick out your dream car and then ask how much it costs, right? Robert J. Falcon, CFP®, CPA/PFS, of College Funding Solutions, LLC, said you shouldn’t do that for college either. This information can help you help your clients figure out how to “buy” a college and pick something that will give students a good return on their investment.

8.) How to Write Like Someone Might Actually Read Your Work

FPA’s membership and marketing director, Dan Martin, lays out the writing tips that have helped him in his career, including writing like you speak, reading your work out loud and not sterilizing your work when you edit.

9.) 3 Steps to Mastering the Art of Excellence for Financial Planners

Daniel C. Finley of Advisor Solutions explores how to create excellence by continuously learning and honing your skills until excellence becomes a habit. He suggests committing to a new level of greatness, model after those who have mastered their craft and map out your milestones so you can see your progress.

10.) What You Should Know Before Leaving Your Firm

Freelance writer Sarah Li Cain penned this piece for FPA’s Next Generation Planner, an app-only publication for the next generation of financial planners, regarding the correct protocol for leaving a firm so you don’t burn bridges or do anything that could get you into legal trouble.

That’s all, folks. One more Tuesday in 2019, which means one more post, then we look forward to seeing what our writers have in store for 2020!

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn


Best of the Blog 2019: Part I

We’re wrapping up a decade, readers! And the last year in this decade has been another good one for the FPA Practice Management Blog powered by the Journal of Financial Planning.

This holiday season, we’re recapping the top 10 most-read blog posts of 2019 in two separate posts.

Take a look part one of the top blog posts of 2019.

1.) Are You and Your Clients Making These Estate Planning Mistakes?

This piece originally appeared in the Journal of Financial Planning’s Observer section. It recapped the top estate planning mistakes, like not having a will, only having a will, not updating beneficiaries or neglecting digital assets.

2.) Should You Include Social Security in Your Clients’ Financial Plans?

This piece, written by Mark Friedenthal, founder and CEO of Tolerisk, and Dylan Zhou, a high school senior who interned at Tolerisk, explored how to include Social Security in a client’s financial plan because while the Social Security system needs reform, it isn’t going away.

3.) 8 Components of a Social Media Policy

It’s been seven years since we first published this piece by Claudio Pannunzio of Curex Group (but formerly of i-Impact Group). This is the epitome of evergreen content, because even though the social media landscape has changed since 2012, Pannunzio’s advice for developing a policy are still valid and relevant.

4.) Setting Your OOO Message: Best Practices

This post by Joni Youngwirth of Commonwealth Financial Network explores best practices of your out of office message so your clients and colleagues don’t feel abandoned by you when they email you when you’re away. There’s even a handy template in this post for you to use.

5.) How to Handle Clients with Estate Tax Issues: A Financial Planner’s Guide

David D. Little of Hartog, Baer & Hand gives planners handy tips to educate clients on the costs, complexities and risks of various estate planning tools like grantor-retained annuity trusts and qualified personal residence trusts, among others.

Stay tuned to the blog on Thursday for the remaining top most-read posts of 2019.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn



Build a Better Business By Changing Your Focus

Recently, I had a coaching session with Tom Y., a financial adviser client of mine who has only been working in the industry for five years. We have been working together just under a year. He had hired me as part of his plan to shift gears (and his focus) to increase his success rate. By doing so, he has gathered over $17 million in new assets since the beginning of the year. It had not always been this way. In fact, in his first four years in the business he only averaged around $2 million annually.

When I asked him to sum up the major difference in his first four years versus this past year, he replied, “I consciously decided to focus on how to make my everyday work more fun!” Tony Robbins sums up that positive train of thought well, “Where focus goes, energy flows.”

Daily activities can become rote and routine but only if you let them. Tom had been trying too hard to get ahead and find success and, in the process, lost what had initially interested him about being an adviser.

As my coaching sessions with Tom continued each week, I asked him to think back and paint a picture of what his business had been like when he wasn’t focused on how to make his professional tasks more fun. He described that he was in a constant state of anxiety, and full of worry and doubt; after four years of struggling he had come to a place where he wasn’t sure if he was cut out for financial services and had considered giving up.

I then asked him to share how he made the decision to change up his focus. I wanted him to hear out loud in his own words what his catalyst had been to change his focus versus simply getting out of the biz. After listening to him, we chatted about how what he had done had fostered his growth and ultimate success rather than doing what many unsuccessful advisers end up doing by finding another career path.

The following is a brief outline of talking points from our discussion.

Daily Structure

Some of the things that majority of advisers have in common is they struggle with time management tasks. They haven’t outlined a scheduled structure to their day, nor do they have a method to manage interruptions.

Tom had admitted that once he started time blocking his day and prioritizing his to-dos he got way more accomplished in less time. Previously, he had been “putting out fires” all day long. He is now more in control of his time, which has diminished his level of stress and that is always a win.

Prospecting and Sales Systems

Another commonality for advisers chasing success is that they haven’t created productive prospecting and sales systems. Instead most days they are winging it.

Tom had said that previously his approach was centered around the philosophy that prospecting and sales was a “numbers game,” so the harder he worked, the more clients he would subsequently close. That hadn’t been the reality. Once we worked together to break down each aspect of his prospecting pipeline and Tom practiced what to say during each phase, he realized that working smarter was a far stronger way forward.

Know Your Value

I have seen advisers grapple with self-worth because they let a lack of business drive their perception of them lacking value.

Tom said that once he understood that most prospects have holes in their financial plans and gaps in their coverage, but that his clients didn’t, he just needed to change his narrative so that his value was clear as day. This upped his confidence factor and his conversations with clients and potential clients were far easier.

Manage the Milestones

Unfortunately, when an adviser is attempting to reconcile why their outcomes have not been what they desired, it is difficult to be reminded of failures and to learn from them.

Tom mentioned doing exactly that: listing out his weaknesses so that he could set up being accountable for those areas instead. In his case, he did that for daily time blocked prospecting activities, and it motivated him to achieve his monthly goals because he knew that if he stuck to the process and had a reward/punishment system, it would inspire him to fill his pipeline!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Oftentimes, it is challenging to be grateful during adversity or a plateau period where goals seem to be slipping away. You are always able to adjust your attitude and make a choice to re-focus as Tom was able to. It isn’t always easy to change your mindset but setting an intention and putting in effort to see it come to fruition is always possible.

Tom had fun this past year and though from the outside looking in, some might say it was because he had a banner monetary year. I view it from this perspective: Tom was having such a great year because his focus became less about the outcome and more about how he viewed how and what he did each day. Focusing on what motivated him rather than on what wasn’t working made all the difference.

If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, please email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

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.