Three quarters, a year doesn't make. Which means now is the time to take an honest assessment of where you stand relative to your 2011 goals. I realize this has been a wild and crazy year — heck, it's been a bizarre three years — which makes it that much more important to be diligently working toward your goals.
They must be broader and deeper than simply a production target. You should not use the economy as a rationale for lacking the goal focus you've had in the past. As the industry tries to segue into comprehensive wealth management, too much focus remains on production and total AUM targets. I recognize that these figures represent how most advisors get compensated. However, production is a historical indicator; representing what you've done in the past while tracking total AUM amid market volatility is a fluid measurement at best.
So let's take a look at some of the metrics that our research tells us elite advisors monitor:
- New ideal clients
Elite advisors typically focus their rainmaking efforts here. It's not that they don't bring in smaller clients; they also have a minimum standard for bringing in new clients. Elite advisors frequently have a junior advisor whose role is to both manage these relationships and acquire more new clients, and new clients at this minimum standard often becomes their target.
- New assets from existing clients
It's a myth that elite advisors get all of their clients' assets when they begin a professional relationship. The reality is that as long as a new client meets their minimum standards, the majority of elite advisors will accept the new relationship with full intentions of gathering the remainder of the assets within a relatively short period of time. Generational planning is part of this process and elite advisors are beginning to target the children of their most affluent clients, recognizing that setting specific targets for the next generation is critical to their succession planning.
- Broadening financial solutions
Whether it's financial planning, reviewing insurance policies, lending, financial organization — elite advisors will identify a specific financial platform and transform it into an annual campaign that is usually designed to strengthen the relationship while also adding to the revenue stream. The idea is to have a specific target for any of the new services offered.
- Top client retention
This targeted segment is all about not losing affluent clients due to anything other than some act of nature outside the advisor's control, i.e. death. Obviously the target is 100 percent.
- Client segmentation
There is a reason why most elite advisors have fewer clients than the average advisor. They establish annual bandwidth targets: number of ideal clients, number of minimum standard clients, number of total clients, and number of smaller clients to jettison.
- New referral alliance partners
This involves both strengthening existing relationships and bringing on a specific number of new referral alliance relationships with accountants, lawyers and other professionals.
- Gross revenue
This involves recurring revenue, commission from transactions and insurance products, fees for planning and other solutions, hourly fees, and retainer fees.
As you've probably concluded, the granular nature of these metrics is dependent upon the advisor. The secret is in being able to focus on legitimate goals, targets (new assets, new clients, new referral partners, new financial solutions, etc.) that require you to engage in activities that are within your control. It is this type of focused activity that enables elite advisors to be more optimistic in their thinking, to feel better about themselves and their careers, and to achieve goals in the midst of horrendous market conditions.
You have three months that might or might not make your year, but if approached properly they can get you focused on the right metrics, engaged in the right activities, and create a momentum that can easily carry over into 2012.
Conduct your Q4 performance review, adapt what I've outlined above to your needs, and use it as a guide. Your challenge: Make Q4 2011 one for the record books.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com.