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5 Steps to Plan to Succeed

We all get overwhelmed and spread too thin. Without a plan, an organization can lose its direction. In this industry, when servicing numerous clients, it is easy to lose sight of a longer-term vision. When that happens, a business can stall out or take a wrong turn.

This year, take the following five steps to increase your success.

1.) Think differently.

Step away from the business. Look at the trends and envision where the industry is going. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Determine how you will differentiate yourself in the future to stay one step ahead of the competition.

2.) Set layers of goals.

Start with big goals, like ‘We want to grow by 25 percent net of market performance,’ but do not stop there. Break down the larger goals into many parts. For example, how much growth is going to come from existing clients? Can share of wallet be increased in certain client relationships? Can introductions be made to prospects? What marketing is needed to win more client referrals? What events should be held? What client research is needed? What is the budget for each line item? Keep asking questions so the specifics are mapped out.

Continue to set other big goals and then go through the same exercise of asking numerous questions for each goal. If you are not good getting into the details, consider hiring a facilitator or consultant to help.

3.) Define owners.

Bring the entire team in to help flesh out the plan before it is completed. Each person in the organization should know his or her role and what he or she owns. Give the team defined responsibilities and hold each teammate accountable. If possible, tie in compensation to motivate all those who contribute to the success of the organization.

4.) Define metrics for success.

Review the goals and determine the key performance indicators. Set up multiple meetings in advance to regularly review the status of the plan. At a minimum, the meetings should be held quarterly. Monthly is probably the right frequency. Weekly meetings can fall into the micromanagement category, so avoid making things too tedious. With that said, there still might be data points that are gathered each week to eliminate surprises.

5.) Make improvements.

Learn from mistakes and evolve. Just because the plan is documented, does not mean it is set in stone. Determine if assistance is needed and invest in your organization where it can make a difference.

Hopefully this advice brings increased success! Need help with your plan? Contact Byrnes Consulting for assistance or visit the FPA Coaches Corner for more information.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper titled “Make 2019 Your Year: Business and Career Tips to Get the Most Out of 2019.” Read the full whitepaper here.

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Michael W. Byrnes Jr. is a national speaker and founder and president of Byrnes Consulting, LLC. He founded Burnes Consulting in April 2008 with a dream of helping business become more successful. He is also the business growth strategies coach for the FPA Coaches Corner.

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Find Your WHY to WOW Your Clients

Why do clients do what they do? What makes them tick?

If you want to wow your clients, you have to understand this. However, the subtle art of delivering exceptional client experiences is as much about you as it is about them. Don’t believe me? Try this deceptively simple self-awareness exercise: for 24 hours, as you go about your daily tasks, ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?”

The tough part of the process is being honest. Don’t let yourself off the hook with answers like, “I’m making coffee because I need caffeine,” or “I’m driving to work because I need to get to the office.” Even for the most mundane action, there often exists a deeper motivation for the things you do, a motivation which I’ll call here your WHY.

Your WHY is your supreme mission. It’s the underlying element that leads to purpose beyond self. For your business, it also goes beyond just making money. When you act in service to your WHY, you feel fulfilled, energized and better prepared to create WOW moments, which Knowledge LabsTM defines as unexpected, thoughtful gestures that make clients realize you offer a level of service unique to them.

Can you tell when people you interact with are merely going through the motions? Well, your clients can tell that too.

WHY Gets You to WOW … But How?

Two examples that illustrate remarkable client experiences.

I have a friend and mentor who is a successful trial attorney. His WHY is to ensure that no one in Florida is treated the way his brother was treated by a major theme park corporation after a tragedy years ago. He intentionally tethers to that narrative daily, and as a consequence, his clients are systematically WOWed. The client experience his firm generates is second to none.

Or consider the adviser who took his wife and daughters to a Celine Dion concert in Chicago. “We’re here for the Celine concert,” piped up one of his daughters to a hotel employee. On the day of the show, a different employee knocked on the adviser’s door and asked if the family would like to join Ms. Dion privately as she warmed up on the hotel piano—with permission from the star, of course. From a WHY of bringing lifelong memories to their guests, a WOW was born.

Asking and answering WHY your team does what it does is a key to world-class client experiences and brand burnishing. Live out a sincere WHY, and your business will thrive. In an era of exclamatory texts and gushing social media posts, it’s the “sincere” part that’s key here. You don’t actually love everything and think everything is amazing, but by this point such superlatives have become habitual. It’s time for you—and your team—to focus on a WHY that is both real and actionable.

Three Steps to Discovering Your Team’s WHY

Find answers to the following:

1.) What makes your team unique?

2.) The hero in your WHY is not you. Who is it?

3.) Talk through your unique idea for WHY with five close friends who have your best interest at heart.

WHY leads to WOW, you watch.

Learn how the Art of WOW, can help you cultivate extreme loyalty among existing clients and grow your business.

Editor’s note: A version of this post appeared on the Janus Henderson Blog. See it here

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John L. Evans Jr., Ed.D., is executive director, Knowledge Labs™ Professional Development at Janus Henderson Investors. In this role, Dr. Evans works with the Professional Development Team and provides extensive consulting, training and practice management expertise. He is a sought-after expert and keynote speaker. He regularly contributes to The Orlando Sentinel newspaper on business and politics and is featured in the Advisor Center section of Barron’s magazine. Dr. Evans has authored books on client retention and client acquisition, including The Book of WOW and “A Genuine Persuasion System.” He also serves on the board of advisers for the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Florida, and Elevate USA in Denver, Colorado. Prior to joining the financial services industry, Dr. Evans was special assistant to former U.S. Senator Connie Mack and director of business development for the state of Florida’s No. 1 registered investment advisory firm, according to Wealth Manager Magazine, for 2007. Dr. Evans holds an MBA from the University of Miami and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. 

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The Annual Audit You’re Probably Not Doing—But Should

There is value in doing a business audit once a year. No, you don’t need to go out and hire a CPA for this job. This annual review of the inner workings of your firm is something you can do on your own with the help of a colleague. You want someone you trust to help you talk through a thorough business assessment—someone who will help you stay honest as you audit where your firm needs to put its attention. The outcome will affirm whether your firm is set up for future success—or whether you need to make some changes.

It’s best to do the business audit with some formality. Use a checklist, take notes and write a summary of the three biggest areas of opportunity for the firm. If you’re not willing to take the time to put any of your findings in writing, then don’t bother with the exercise—but I hope you do see the value and take it seriously. If you are willing to put in the effort to do it right, you’ll end up with a written set of goals you can act upon.

Putting the Firm Under Your Scrutiny

Here are a few starter ideas for an audit that will uncover problem areas in your firm as well as opportunities that you may have been missing. The process of creating the list of what to audit is as valuable as doing the audit itself.

  • Do you complete an annual business planning process with SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, vision, strategy and goals?
  • Are human resource documents—such as your handbook, job descriptions and performance reviews—up to date?
  • Are operating policies and procedures in writing and current?
  • Are your technology systems integrated and serving the firm’s needs, or have workarounds proliferated because of outdated technology?
  • Are you proud of your brand and how you hold yourself out to the public?
  • Is your firm growing in profitability?
  • Have you addressed the obvious risks to the firm? For example, have you protected your firm with the right insurance? Are your plans for business continuity and succession practical?
  • Is the firm culture defined and nurtured?

The Audit List, Updated

When you commit to doing an annual audit, you’ll find new issues need to be addressed every year. Here are a few additional robust areas that firms built to last need to keep in mind.

  • Is your firm taking advantage of automation and machine learning to any extent? Robo-advisers are here to stay, and they could become a valuable tool in your toolbox, in terms of efficiency and understanding your clients’ needs.
  • Are your fees 100 percent transparent? Clear compensation is the trend, and clients will continue to expect it.
  • Is the firm growing both revenue and profit? Evaluate what could be holding back growth and whether your firm is facing a downward trend.
  • Are you continuing to attract “sweet spot” clients to your firm? These are the clients who make your work worthwhile, whether it’s the level of assets they bring into your firm or the issues that match your particular expertise.
  • Are your social media approaches yielding results? Algorithms are always changing, and so are social media trends—revamping your social media strategy is a constant need.
  • Is your organizational structure designed with the future in mind?
  • Are you a financial planner or an investment manager? The former is gaining traction in the industry.
  • Do you have the best affiliation model for your firm: IAR, RIA, hybrid, something else?
  • How is your mental acuity and your attitude toward the business? Check in to see if your heart is still in this and what would need to change to keep it that way.

Sometimes I find that advisers view their practice as good enough. And while that assessment may get you through today, it certainly won’t carry your business into the future. But then, what do you want for the future? The process of going through the audit and reviewing the state of your business should help you find the answer.

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Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass.