8 Questions to Evaluate Financial Planning Research

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Dave Yeske at Closing Circle of FPA Retreat 2016

In order to emerge as a true profession, the financial planning industry needs to base its practices on research-based writing.

That’s what Dave Yeske, DBA, CFP®, co-owner of the planning firm Yeske Buie, told FPA Retreat attendees at his session on how to read and apply research-based writing.

“We need to deepen our connection with academics,” Yeske said. “They know how to conduct research but they don’t always know what the critical questions are that you need answers to.”

The Journal of Financial Planning, of which Yeske is practitioner editor, is one of many outlets that supply practitioners with research-based writing, but those articles aren’t so helpful if you aren’t sure exactly how to read them.

Yeske provided eight questions to ask yourself in order to better evaluate research-based writing.

  1. What is the problem or question? What are the researchers trying to address?
  2. How did they conceptualize that problem, how did they structure it? Look for what the researchers are measuring. For example, client trust and relationship commitment have become well-represented measures in financial planning literature.
  3. What are the key findings from prior research? Good research will build on research that came before to lay the foundation for the current research to build upon.
  4. What was their methodology? Does it seem like the researchers make sense?
  5. What were the results of the testing? A formal academic paper will never prove anything, Yeske said, rather it will fail to disprove something.
  6. Were the results compelling? Did the authors connect all the dots for you? Did their data answer the question?
  7. What are the practical applications? Do the researchers tell you how you could use this information? If not, are you still able to find a practical use for the data that is being presented?
  8. Will this change the way I practice? Will I be able to incorporate this into my practice?

“As a profession we need to all become better at recognizing research-based writing and be able to apply it,” Yeske said.

See Yeske’s presentation here.

Yeske also has a remote course on this subject through Golden Gate University, where he serves as the director of financial planning. Find out more here.

Also, you could participate in the Financial Planning Association’s Theory in Practice Knowledge Circle.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use the code PARET17 for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.

AnaHeadshotAna Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.



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3 Steps to Defining your Value

RPI Research Feb 16By the end of this month, the Financial Planning Association will release the first of three whitepapers derived from its “2016 Trends in Practice Management: Understanding and Driving Client Value” research report.

The first whitepaper, titled “Defining and Communicating Your Value” examines how defining your value and your ideal client is the first step to having a successful practice.

The whitepapers are a way for planners to easily apply the information uncovered in the research to their practices, said Ben Lewis, FPA’s communications director.

“That’s where the whitepapers come in,” Lewis said. “The hope is that each whitepaper, developed in collaboration with Julie Littlechild of AbsoluteEngagement.com, will be a helpful resource in making the research actionable.”

Define Your Ideal Client
When defining your value, Littlechild explains, it is important to figure out what makes you different from other advisers. This most likely starts being clear about who your ideal client is.

“True differentiation typically starts with clarity around your ideal client,” Littlechild writes. “The needs of those clients will influence how you define and drive clients.”

According to the research report, 38 percent of advisers said they had a formal definition of their ideal client and 55 percent said they have a “general idea” of who their ideal client is. A third of advisers surveyed said more than 75 percent or more of their clients meet their definition of “ideal.”

So sit down and decide what that definition is. If you’re having a hard time, focus on the scope of work you’d like to do, the niche you’d like to serve and the age of the clients you’d like to serve.

Littlechild also writes to keep in mind that “you cannot be all things to all people. Your value is, therefore, defined by the needs and objectives of your most important clients.”

Gather Client Input
As soon as you identify your ideal client, reach out to your current clients who meet this criteria and gather information on their perception of the value you provide.

“Qualitative feedback may be most useful for this kind of feedback,” Littlechild writes. “Consider client interviews as a primary way to gather input.”

Define the Value You Provide to Clients
Once you’ve gathered all that client feedback, comb over it and figure out what services you provide that add the most value and set you apart from other advisers.

“A simple list will suffice at this point,” Littlechild writes.

To learn more about how to further implement this information, download the research report here. The upcoming whitepapers will be available to FPA members only. To become a member, click here.

Have Something to Contribute?
While FPA has partnered with Littlechild most recently, it is always looking for new partners.

“FPA is always interested in partnering with consultants, coaches and subject matter experts to help our more than 24,000 members around the world address pressing matters that impact the business and practice of financial planning,” said FPA’s Lewis.

Those who want to contribute or who want to expand the body of professional knowledge are encouraged to reach out to see what options exist, Lewis said. To find out more, contribute to the conversation about this research on FPA Connect.

HeadshotAna Trujillo
Associate Editor
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.

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6 Seriousness of Success Indicators

During a complimentary group coaching session with 60 financial advisers, I made a special announcement that for a limited time we would offer a very low monthly payment plan option on our upcoming group coaching series to anyone with five years or less in the business. I did this to try and help those in need who may not have the necessary funds for coaching.

The caveat: we were only taking the first 10 people who emailed me with their interest. Within minutes, we had more than 10 people contact me. However, only one ended up actually signing up for our group coaching program. My first thought was that the others simply didn’t see our follow-up email with the registration link. After calling the entire list twice and speaking with many of the advisers, I came to the realization that the real reason they were not following through on their initial interest was that they simply were not serious about their own success (and it had nothing to do with money after all).

The following are just of few examples of what I have found with my successful client advisers:

1.) They Are Serious about Commitment: Successful advisers know that making a commitment to own their success is not a gray area—either you are committed to succeed or you are not. This doesn’t eliminate setbacks but redefines them as opportunities to learn and move forward.

2.) They Are Serious about Character: Successful advisers know that doing the right thing for the client is much more important than earning a commission. They say what they mean and they stick to their word.

4.) They Are Serious about Consequences: Successful advisers know that they are responsible for their own success, not their firm, their clients, the market or the economy. They realize that it is pointless to blame others.

5.) They Are Serious about Collaboration: Successful advisers find others to help build and maintain a thriving practice. They utilize their firm’s resources and expertise. They oftentimes build teams with other like-minded advisers or hire junior advisers to delegate activities to that they themselves don’t like to do.

6.) They Are Serious about Control: Successful advisers know what is and is not in their control. They CAN control their attitude, activities and actions. They don’t worry about things that they cannot control, such as their clients’ attitudes, the market and the overall economy.

Obviously, I’m not saying you can’t have fun in your business but I am saying that if you want to get to the next level with your practice it’s time to get serious about your own success. Nobody else can, or will, do it for you.

If you read this article and would like help identify how to take your business more seriously, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a free complimentary consultation with Dan Finley.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.