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8 Ways to Renew Your Focus as the Seasons Change

Like most people, you probably took time to kick back this summer. Perhaps you took an extended vacation, or you took three-day weekends regularly throughout June, July and August. Whatever the case may be, recent market volatility may have kick-started your return to the 40-hour workweek, as you’ve had to respond to client concerns about their portfolios.

To everything there is a season, so they say, and as each season changes, we face new experiences and opportunities, both personally and professionally. In the fall, for example, as students head back to school, there’s a sense of buckling down and getting back to business. And this is just as true for financial advisers.

How can you buckle down and renew your focus?
Buckling down often translates into activities like the following:

  1. Holding more review meetings with clients
  2. Taking extra steps to prospect for new clients
  3. Reviewing internal processes to ensure efficiency
  4. Examining your client base and potentially realigning it with your vision
  5. Rethinking your brand and the extent to which it serves a specific niche
  6. Working with your staff and partners to ensure that everyone is working toward the same firm goals
  7. Assessing the risks the firm faces from clients, employees, technology, business continuity, or natural disaster
  8. Thinking ahead to 2016 and assessing what you need to do to foster the firm’s ongoing growth and quality



For some advisers, the above activities are business as usual. They keep these items top of mind and regularly review them for any signs of trouble or inefficiency. Others advisers think about “CEO-type” issues once in a while—perhaps when they read a blog post like this. Still others think of the above as irrelevant, unnecessary and a pain in the neck. As time goes on and practices turn into more sophisticated businesses, advisers won’t be able to get away with the latter. In fact, the larger the organization, the more critical these activities are.

The approaching fourth quarter is a time for wrapping up 2015 and thinking ahead to 2016 and beyond. Why not seize the autumn momentum and adopt a “back-to-school” mind-set to take a look at your business today in preparation for next year. It will help you appropriately ground the reality of your practice today with your dreams and goals for your business in the future.

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.


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Anticipating Change in Your Business

Nothing is predictable—in life, the financial markets or our industry—except, of course, change itself. Let’s explore a few somewhat predictable events that tend to bring change, for better or for worse, to advisers’ practices.

“Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity”
If you recognize that quote, you’re probably in your 60s and remember the popular TV show Ben Casey. The series opened with the elder professor teaching his physician protégés about the path of human existence. From the birth of a child through adulthood, procreation, health issues and ultimately death, the trajectory of life is fairly predictable.

Whether they happen to you or a family member, colleague, employee, client or friend, these life events can have an impact on your business. For example, the birth of a child may prompt a young employee to quit work or ask for paternity leave. The 60-year-old adviser may take time off when her first grandchild is born, while the 40-year-old might buckle down and focus more than ever in anticipation of college expenses ahead. When you think about it, the path of human existence is constantly affecting your practice in some way, shape or form.

Leases, Partnerships, Growth, Industry Evolution
You haven’t heard that list on any TV show, but these factors also lead to change at regular intervals throughout the life cycle of a financial advisory business.

  • The end of a lease. I’ve noticed that a lease coming up for renewal can be a crossroads for many advisers. For one, it may present an opportunity to buy the office building; another may see it as a chance to gain space for targeted growth over the long term. One adviser will simply renew the current lease, while another may take the opportunity to minimize office expenses.
  • A shift in a partnership. Partnerships evolve, too. As one partner experiences change due to personal factors such as those mentioned above, it can be like shifting tectonic plates in the partnership. Say one adviser has a health scare and the more reticent partner takes the helm of running the business. The emotional dynamic caused by the shift is palpable. At such junctures, lifelong relationships between colleagues can unravel or thrive.
  • Business growth. Whether an adviser’s success is due to skill, geography, luck, inheritance, passion, the market or other factors, at some point, it becomes clear which firms are consistently growing and which level off. In either case, inertia kicks in; the business in motion tends to stay in motion.
  • An evolving industry. Like individuals, industries are born, change and pass away. Time will tell how long the financial advisory and planning industry endures. Advisers who joined the profession 40 years ago, 20 years ago and today will face very different circumstances to which they must adapt.

What Changes Will Your Practice Confront?
Change is constant and often predictable. But it’s easier to see that when you’re looking in the rearview mirror—just ask any adviser in the second half of his or her career. For those still in the early stages, it’s worth keeping an eye out for all the predictable changes down the road. As the saying goes, we don’t get hit by the things we see coming!

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for webJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management

Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham