Advisor Resolution 2017: Be Great at One Thing


We’ve written a lot about New Year’s resolutions. We quoted Forbes with New Year’s Resolutions – Don’t Follow the 92% Rule and looked at PriceMetrix research in How 2016 Can Be the Year of the Advisory Business. My personal favorite was Advisors: What Are Your Anti-New Year’s Resolutions?, suggesting that since people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions, why not make ones that you won’t mind breaking – like not growing by referrals or not hosting a business-building event.

Each year, the SEI Advisor Network publishes the results of our survey of financial advisors’ New Year’s resolutions. We heard from more than 900 advisors this year, and I saw a few resolutions that didn’t surprise me – like growing your business through referrals and a major effort to get ready for the DOL rule (although, shouldn’t you have done that last year?). But I was intrigued that the list showed a focus on how advisors can differentiate themselves versus other firms, robo advisors, direct to custodians/funds and retail solutions. You can read the whole list for yourself, but these caught my eye:

  • #3. Increase my clients’ awareness of additional services that they may not know I offer
  • #5. Implement a goals-based approach to investing for my clients
  • #7. More contact with clients through email marketing, events and social media
  • #8. Offer more tax-managed solutions, seeking to minimize tax impact to my clients
  • #9. Explore managed volatility investment strategies to keep up with the ups and downs in the markets

Maybe you can say that all of these are especially important in a post-DOL world, and maybe there is a theme here of differentiation, but my guess is that if we try to do all of these, we won’t get any of them done.

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What are you going to be great at?

The problem with any top 10 resolution list is that it is about 8 or 9 items too long. I don’t think any one of us can really accomplish 10 things (really big things) and do a great job at any of them. This year, I would like to challenge each of you to pick one thing, and only one thing, and be truly great at it. Implement an entire program around your goal, create accountability and make it a part of your daily life – be known for your greatness in that area. Think about how you can begin to implement your greatness across your entire book. Here are some suggestions to get started, based on the survey results:

  • Client awareness: Think about what you offer and put it down on paper. Your client service statement is just the beginning. Test the statement on a few of your clients and key stakeholders, get compliance to sign off on it and begin to incorporate it into every meeting you have with clients. Ask what other services you need to offer to build out that list. Listen to your clients and prospects for ideas and input. Market the list as a way to communicate what you do, who you work best with and the services they need/want.
  • Goals-based investing: Look at your client discovery method – are you assigning risk properly? Are you using different asset classes to meet different goals? Most importantly, are you reporting on progress to goals (or some irrelevant benchmark like the Dow or S&P)? Many advisors say they “do” goals based, but are not fully implementing on behalf of their client base. Look at your investment process; can you improve the coordination between planning, investing and reporting?
  • Events and social media: Marketing is the lifeblood of an advisory business. If you are not out there meeting new people and forging new relationships, the business can decrease in revenue and value. The methods you chose, such as charitable events, traditional events or social media, is not nearly as important as the plan you have in place. What is your plan for marketing in 2017 and how are you going to be great at it? What will be the measure of success? How often will you review progress? Who is going to be accountable?

I think you get the idea. Choosing one thing to be great at is tough. Greatness takes time and effort – it takes a defined plan, benchmarks and goals. What do you resolve to be great at in 2017- and what is your plan to get there?

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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