From working in or with advisory firms for the past 20 years and understanding the challenges encountered while trying to get to the next level of success, a couple of things have become clear to me. One is that there is a lot for firms to consider and stay on top of in order to run a successful financial advisory business. Another is that there is a lot of information available on the subject- sometimes so much that it is hard to extract the relevant information and decide what to use to grow your firm.
The major challenge firms often face is starting and following through on tasks they identify as important toward reaching a higher level of success. Often these projects involve creating efficient processes and procedures to build scale into the business. Many firms can be much larger in terms of clients and AUM without needing to hire more (few) staff. Sound familiar?
Why do some firms seem to tread water while other firms continue to grow each year? What can your firm do to make sure things are getting done and build a successful, more efficient business in the coming year?
Here is a six step process your firm can follow to achieve the next level of success.
Step One: Create a strategic plan and refer to it throughout the year to guide the firm. Include in your plan the mission and vision of the firm. Why does your firm exist? Share these with your employees. Make sure they understand where the firm is headed, why it is headed in the chosen direction, and how their role is important in reaching the company’s goals, and how they will contribute to reaching these goals. Break the goals and tasks into the following- 3-year, 1-year, 3-month, 1-month, and weekly. Work backwards from your longer-term goals to the shorter-term tasks. Figure out what needs to be completed in the short-term to reach your longer-term goals. Most importantly, follow through and keep moving toward your goals.
Have you created a strategic plan and shared it with your employees? Are you and your staff continuing to follow the strategic plan?
Step Two: Assign someone in your firm the role of “Implementer.” The role of the Implementer is threefold: 1) to make sure the correct staff is in place to reach your longer-term goals, 2) prioritize tasks and projects and ensure progress is being made toward longer-term goals, and 3) assign tasks and hold staff accountable for completion of the tasks. This role could be filled by the founder or one of the partners of the firm, particularly when the firm is small. However, as the firm grows, the principal’s time will become more consumed with client-facing activities- servicing current clients and gathering new ones. Consider hiring a COO to assume this role.
Who is the Implementer in your firm?
Step Three: Make sure you have the right staff in place to execute your strategy. If you don’t have the correct staff in place to move your firm to the next level you can hire the correct person for the job, shift roles within the firm if the right people are there but are in the wrong roles, hire the right person for the role, or hire an outside firm (consultant or outsourcer) to assist in filling the role on a short or long-term basis until the role is filled permanently.
Is your current staff in the correct roles to get your firm to the next level or do you need to explore options outside your firm (hiring to fill needed roles)?
Step Four: Focus on critical tasks and projects that move the firm toward longer-term goals. Identify the most important tasks to be completed and assign priorities. Clarify what needs to be accomplished daily and weekly in order to reach your quarterly and yearly goals. Repeat this step as prioritized tasks and projects are completed.
What tasks and projects are most important and what needs to get done today to move your firm forward?
Step Five: Assign accountability for completing the shorter-term tasks and projects. Assign tasks or projects on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis and make sure the correct person in your firm is handling each task or project. Hold each staff member accountable for completing the assigned tasks or project.
Are you (or your COO) holding your staff accountable for their assigned tasks and projects?
Step Six: Measure Your Progress. As you continue to make progress toward completing tasks and projects, monitor your progress and measure where you are at in terms of reaching your longer-term goals. Assess your progress and reallocate or add resources if needed. Progress and success builds momentum as you move forward.
Are you measuring the progress of the staff toward creating a successful, efficient and effective firm?
Follow these steps and answer the questions in each step to put your firm on the right path toward reaching the next level of success you are seeking.
Best wishes for a new year full of happiness, success, and big dreams coming true!
I will continue this strategic planning success series in the coming year to walk with you as you make progress toward your goals.