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Business Planning

A new year can inspire us to make positive changes, whether it’s hitting the gym more faithfully, spending more quality time with loved ones—or growing our business to new levels. When it comes to your advisory practice, here are five ways to reinvent yourself this year:

1) Think long-term. You’re always telling clients to develop a long-term plan for their assets. How is your strategic planning on your business? It’s a fair bet that if you’re like most business owners, you’ve been caught up in day-to-day management without planning for your own future. As an independent RIA, your firm is likely your largest asset. A strategic plan creates a vision for your firm, sets goals and priorities, and charts a course to where you want to be in the future. Executing the plan is similar to the guidance that you provide clients—stay focused on long-term goals and remain disciplined.

Example of long-term goals:

  • Turning the business over gradually to your children or your business partners
  • Selling the firm to an outside party
  • Creating a firm with the high valuation possible

2)  Systematize your marketing. Discipline yourself with a marketing plan designed to help you achieve your short, medium and long-term goals. Begin by defining your competitive positioning and value proposition. Then identify your client and market segmentation, develop your brand, review your messaging, and pursue specific sales tactics that fit your firm and target market. Finally, create a marketing calendar that lays out your marketing efforts for the next 12 months and defines new business goals.

3) Refine your niche. In addition to the enhanced revenue of niches, advisors who pursue niches find cost efficiencies. They don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel for every new client. They eventually spend less on marketing in a niche because word of mouth and referral business increases. It’s exhausting trying to be all things to all people. Begin analyzing your current client base. Where have you been successful in the past? Are there any similarities or patterns in demographics, psychographics, or benefits sought among your clients? Consider developing a niche strategy targeting this segment. Selecting a niche that is either large or growing helps, but it is more important for the segment to be a good fit with your firm.

Niches may include retirees (or near-retirement), women, small business owners, or asset accumulators. Consider new niches like institutional investors. This market will require a significantly different approach and service model than the individual investor market.  But institutional business is vastly more scalable than the individual market and can be a great fit for advisors with a compelling investment approach.
4) Upgrade your client service. Several years ago, I interviewed an advisor who had hundreds of clients on the books with whom he hadn’t connected in years. He didn’t exactly feel like “Advisor of the Year.”  Over the course of several months, he combed through his book, and decided to consistently give each client a higher level of communication and service. He pruned off some of the smaller accounts to a junior partner, and laid out a new tiered approach that gave every client at least an annual financial physical. His higher worth clients received monthly contact and quarterly financial reviews. Upon implementing his new approach, he began to notice higher satisfaction levels, more referrals, and greater revenues to his team. If you’ve been neglecting your client service, it’s never too late to change your approach and dazzle clients with better service.

5) Expand your team. If you’ve neglected bringing on a client associate, marketing associate, or someone to help you with your technology, consider how fresh talent might spur your business. An RIA team in the Kansas City area were able to grow their assets 600% over several years when an investment-oriented advisor teamed with a marketing-oriented ace assistant. What tasks do you love and what tasks can’t you stand? Start with what you do well, then find areas of your business that need to be delegated. By freeing up your time to its best use, you’ll give your practice more juice and energy.

So, what are you waiting for? Make it happen!