Benchmarking Your Future

Benjamin Franklin's quest for perfection and personal growth involved setting benchmarks to develop certain qualities in his daily life, including frugality, truthfulness, industriousness and good-naturedness. He then linked 13 virtues to those categories. The process Franklin deployed can be adapted to the challenge facing financial professionals today. If your commitment is strong and deep, here

Benjamin Franklin's quest for perfection and personal growth involved setting benchmarks to develop certain qualities in his daily life, including frugality, truthfulness, industriousness and good-naturedness. He then linked 13 virtues to those categories.

The process Franklin deployed can be adapted to the challenge facing financial professionals today. If your commitment is strong and deep, here is the next step.

Begin with four categories: business development, financial advisory, operational efficiency and client loyalty. Use 12 benchmarking criteria.

On a scale of one to five — five being most important — rate each of the statements below by asking yourself how important each is to you.

Business development

  1. Clearly envision your future and create a long-range business plan you want to achieve.

  2. Use a system that keeps you focused on the strategies and tactics that will make you successful with your long-range plan.

  3. Identify your ideal client and focus all efforts to acquiring more of them.

    Financial advisory
  4. Create a step-by-step financial advisory process that covers the basics and can be customized.

  5. Expand your expertise so you can offer solutions to the multidimensional financial needs of affluent clients.

  6. Discipline yourself to follow your step-by-step process with each client.

    Operational efficiency
  7. Conduct effective team meetings.

  8. Match Ritz-Carlton service and FedEx efficiency.

  9. Coordinate everything to ensure you add value with each client contact.

    Client loyalty
  10. Make client loyalty the primary responsibility of each team member.

  11. Create a client loyalty profile that highlights loyalty impact points for each client.

  12. Creatively recover from client complaints and use them to strengthen loyalty.

Your second step is to assess your performance. Using the same five-point scale, ask yourself how well you are performing each of above.

Step three involves calculating your performance gaps. Subtract your importance score from your performance score. A performance gap exists when you have a negative score. Those scores can range from -4 (largest gap) to -1 (smallest gap). Gap scores from 0 to +5 indicate no gap or that your performance is equal to or better than the importance you assigned to the item. Any negative gap score needs your attention.

The fourth step involves committing to specific action steps to correct selected performance gaps.

By following this carefully designed benchmarking model, you can compartmentalize your improvement. Approach the process in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin. Be inspired and then do it.

Developing Your Parabroker

You must include your parabroker in your benchmarking exercise. Use one of your team meetings to work through the four steps. Agree on your ratings of importance and performance.

Next determine the specific action steps needed to correct your largest performance gaps. Focus on actions that require a commitment from both of you.

Empower your parabroker to follow through on the action steps linked to the operational efficiency and client loyalty processes while you take responsibility for the business development and financial advisory processes. Benchmarking your future should be everyone's responsibility so success will be everyone's reward.

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