Getting Your RIA to the Next Level: Are You Making Progress?

In my 2014 year-end post, A Six Step Process to Move Your Firm to the Next Level In 2015, I laid out a process to help your firm make progress in 2015 and said I would follow up at the end of each quarter to see if your firm is making progress.  It is already near the end of the first 90 days of 2015. Are you making progress on each of the six steps?


Step One: Create a strategic plan and follow it throughout the year to guide the firm.

This step is a series of smaller decisions that need to be determined by the leaders of the firm.  It includes deciding on a mission (core focus) and vision (who and what is your organization, where is it going, how is it going to get there) just to name a few. The vision will point you to where you want to be in the future.  From there, develop longer-term goals (three to five years at max) and identify shorter-term tasks (less than 90 days) that need to be completed to reach your longer-term goals.

If you have no done this yet, identify your vision and longer-term goals. Where do you want your firm to be in three to five years? If you don’t visualize it, you cannot share your longer-term vision with your employees. If you want your employees to follow you, you need to provide a solid vision of what working at your firm will look in the future. In Step Four below you will create a list shorter-term tasks and projects that need to be completed in the next 90 days to reach the longer-term goals.


Step Two: Assign someone in your firm the role of “Implementer.”

In a smaller firm, the Implementer will likely be the Founder/Owner.  In a larger firm, you may (should) have someone else with the right skill set to handle this role. This allows the Founder/Owner to concentrate on working with current clients and developing additional business. This role would be a good fit for someone handling the COO responsibilities or someone in your firm that you can groom for future leadership.

The key responsibilities of this role are: 1) make sure the firm has the correct staff in place to reach longer-term goals, 2) prioritize shorter-term tasks and projects and ensure that progress is being made on these as well as toward reaching the longer-term goals, 3) assign tasks to the correct staff members and hold them accountable for completing these.

Holding your staff accountable for completing these shorter-term tasks is critically important to making continuous progress toward the longer-term goals and ultimately realizing the future vision of your firm.

Identify someone to fill this role or you may forever be stuck in a rut of working hard but making no progress. The Implementer role is extremely important for pushing the firm toward reaching your longer-term goals.


Step Three: Make sure you have the right staff in place to execute your strategy.

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the person who ends up in a particular role is not the best person for the position. The initial hire may have been incorrect or the employee may have outgrown their previous role.  Whatever the reason(s), as your firm evolves and grows, it becomes increasingly important to hire and put the right people in the correct roles based on your firms changing needs as it grows and evolves. Your mission and vision discussed above will guide your hiring needs going forward.

Analyze your current staff and identify any changes you need to make. Having staff in the wrong roles is another way your growth will continue to be stifled unless changes are made.


Step Four: Focus on critical shorter-term tasks and projects that move the firm toward its longer-term goals.

Look at all the issues your firm struggles with and the projects you need to work on to move your firm ahead. Are there bottlenecks in a process or are certain things falling through the cracks?  Prioritize each of these issues with those projects and tasks needing to be completed in the next 90 days. Decide which ones really should be at the top of the list of priorities. Lastly, decide what can be completed today and this week to remove the issue and/or get you closer to completing the project.

What issues and projects need immediate attention? What can you do today and this week that moves you closer to resolving issues and completing tasks and projects?


Step Five: Assign accountability for completing the shorter-term tasks and projects.

Once the issues and tasks have been identified, assign accountability for completing each of these. Spread them out to the correct individual(s) and place deadline dates on each task.

If you have the right people in the correct roles and you have shared the longer-term vision of the firm with employees, if they are motivated to help the firm succeed, you should not have issues with everyone contributing to the tasks and projects.  Implementing an incentive compensation plan will also help drive results among the team.

Who will be responsible for each issue, task, and project your firm is working on?


Step Six: Measure your progress.

Have the Implementer meet weekly with your staff to measure your progress on the shorter-term issues, tasks and projects. This is the time to address anything holding up completing these by the dates set.  After doing this weekly, when you reach a 90 day time period, you should begin seeing progress toward your longer-term goals. Once you begin seeing progress, it develops momentum in the organization.

If you followed these steps beginning in January, have you noticed progress? Set your new 90-day goals.   If you have not started these steps, begin with Steps One through Five today.  After you get going for a week or two, stop and measure your progress.

I’ll follow up again in 90 days to see if you are making progress toward your goals.

Keep moving toward your goals!