Written by Kronos Technologies on November 14, 2018
Great advisors recognize the importance of setting financial goals and creating a business plan. But they also get that traditional planning is not the whole story when it comes to achieving their desired future. To achieve their vision top advisors also set 'development goals' for themselves. These are a group of 3-5 targets they will work towards achieving in the coming year—not financial targets, but goals related to the behaviors that are critical to building their dream practice.
These development goals are important because they guide decision-making and behavior. The goals ensure that the advisor devotes time, effort and resources toward achieving their key priorities.
How to identify your development goals
In order to identify which goals are most important to you take the time to reflect on both the current and desired states of your business. Review your practice today. Identify what is working best and what you think could be done better. Then, review your business plan and targets for the coming year. List the key behaviors you’ll need to exhibit in order to hit your targets. From these two lists you should be able to identify three to five behaviors that should be development priorities for you—the real keys to growing your business.
Consider what attitudes or behaviors you could change in order to optimize your business. Consider things like, being more entrepreneurial or more client-centric. Re-examine how you manage your relationships, how often and what ways you interact with clients. Consider how much activity you take on, rather than delegating to staff or technology.
Once you have identified your development goals make sure they are specific and have defined outcomes, so you will be able to tell when you have achieved them. Even though many of these goals are long-term, even life-long, quests there will still be milestones along the way—things you can attempt to achieve in the next twelve months. If, for instance, if you want to communicate better with clients, you may have a goal to implement a system for touching each client each month by the end of the year.
Examples of good development goals
To give you a better idea of the kinds of development goals we’re talking about, here are four examples of behaviors advisors should have targets for, but probably don't:
- Focus on your clients rather than your products
Product knowledge is important, and product driven marketing and sales approaches do work. But over the long-term the real engine of growth in your practice is your ability to develop deep relationships with clients. Creating and nurturing those relationships requires a strategy for proactively touching your top clients on a regular basis. This means mapping out who will get annual reviews and financial needs analyses, and when those interactions will happen. Identify what monthly communication you will have with them—everything from newsletters, to social media, to articles they would find helpful. Engage them with surveys to better understand the value you bring and could further develop. Invite them to events, where you will have the time for informal discussion that helps you develop a broader understanding of who they are and what they value.
Sample development goal: Use my CRM to segment my client base and identify how I will interact with my ‘A’ clients in each of the next twelve months.
- Develop your network
Most advisors spend a lot of time building their network, chiefly as a source of new prospects. But a great way to become more client-centric is to beef up your network by adding resources that will be helpful to your clients. These resources may be other advisors, like lawyers, realtors and accountants, but also consider people and companies who might fill typical needs your top clients have—perhaps concierge services, counsellors, and health care professionals. Assembling a robust network of referable problem-solvers will help you become the go-to resource your best clients think of whenever they need a hand.
Sample development goal: Add six new collateral professionals to my network by Dec. 31
- Act and think like an entrepreneur
Many advisors see themselves as the manager of their business. There’s nothing wrong with that. Stewardship is an important component of preserving your income and maintaining the health of your practice. Many top advisors, however, have a different mindset—they think and behave like entrepreneurs. They view their practices, even the mature ones, as quick-growing start-ups. Like tech company founders, these advisors, behave differently than the traditional manager. They are risk takers, continuous learners and are almost obsessively focused on growth. They may seek to purchase other books of business, hire staff and associate agents to increase sales and support, or move aggressively into new markets.
Sample development goal: Develop a business case for adding two associate producers over the next year.
- Develop your tech knowledge
One thing that entrepreneurs are very good at is staying on top of their tech knowledge. You don’t have to become a programmer or even an expert with technology, but you should develop a strategy for staying abreast of products and services specific to your practice needs. You may choose to take the time to research new tech each month yourself, or you can delegate to a tech-savvy staff member, or you may want to cultivate a relationship with a consultant or expert in the field. No matter what you decide, delegating to technology—whether it’s using an advisor-specific CRM, a web-based FNA, or apps to automate your social media posts—will increase your efficiency, freeing up time to spend with clients.
Sample development goal: Research the best CRM solution for my business and implement it by Dec. 31.
In order to achieve your long-term vision for your future it’s important to set goals. Not just the financial and business-oriented targets that we’re all familiar with, but also the type of development goals that will improve your effectiveness in the key areas that drive your practice forward. Setting goals that enable you to become more client-centric, entrepreneurial, tech-savvy and useful to your clients will ensure that you devote the time, effort and resources necessary to develop your practice capabilities and make your desired future a reality.