Advisors: The Next 90 Is the Most Important

business planning

Sunday morning early, my wife and I skipped our usual vacation morning routine and headed out to a small coffee shop. Later, sipping the to-go cups while sitting on a bench at a beach we discussed the next 11 weeks. This wasn’t long range planning; we didn’t discuss college funding for our 11- and 14 year-old boys, nor the summer 2019 vacation. We discussed how we were going to get through to the Thanksgiving break.  After our conversation, I considered the same practice for my business (and yours.)

I realized after our conversation that we usually think of year-end as business planning time. The time where we set long-term business goals, we do forecasting based on annual numbers, and look out three to five years. The business planning process is important and helps shape the future of the firm but your next 90 days can define how successful you are this year.  Summer is officially over and it became evident that now is the best time of the year for narrow focus and tactical steps.

Why now?

We all know that clients aren’t typically as focused on their investments and planning around the holiday season. Sure, there is a short window of two or three weeks after Thanksgiving that you may have client meetings, but for the most part many advisors find it hard to schedule conversations with their clients after December 10 (unless they have some specific tax planning issues.)  So, if you are reading this post when it publishes on September 6 you have just over 90 days – enough time to complete a few rocks.

For those of you who don’t use Traction by Gino Wickman, a rock is a goal that must be accomplished with in a specific timeframe. Firms typically set three to seven rocks at the department or individual level and management sets a clear priority so that the goals don’t get lost in the day-to-day minutia of the business. To keep everyone on track, the rocks’ statuses are reported in progress meetings every two weeks.

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What is your rock?

These micro goals can get you moving in the right direction quickly, but you have to focus, make sure you have buy in from everyone and that they are accountable. You also make sure the goal is achievable, but more importantly, you report on the progress frequently. I think it starts with reviewing your business plan from last year – are you on track?  Here are some suggestions of rocks:

  • What marketing/client activity can you complete? This is a great time to plan a holiday event or charitable outing.
  • How do your personas look? We have discussed often on these pages that specialist advisors can do much better than general.  It starts with building an ideal client profile – a persona.  You are going to need a persona to build a value proposition, marketing calendar, service list etc. for next year’s business planning.  So why not start now with building out the most important (and time consuming) piece?
  • What processes do you do repeatedly? Have you committed them to a workflow in your CRM?  Pick two or three tasks such as a client service meeting, account opening paperwork or something as simple as a change of address. Work together to list every step, look for ways to improve the process then document it in your CRM to help make sure you do it right, every time.
  • Does your social media presence reflect your value?  Do a full social media audit; look at the content, the frequency and the reach.  Do you have a social media plan?

The next 90 days are a great time to be tactical, to complete your 2018 plans and set yourself up for 2019. You can accomplish a lot in a short period.

After my wife and I left the bench by the lake, I reviewed my own goals for 2018. I started to create rocks for my team then fired off a few meeting requests and scheduled the progress update sessions.  I am here with you – my next 90 days are going to be very productive – I hope yours will be too.

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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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