Fourth-Quarter Scramble

To hit your year-end goals, revisit your business plan

As the industry's “slow” season wanes, advisors are realizing that they have some hurdles to jump if they're going to meet their projected numbers by year-end.

Stephen, an advisor I know, admitted: “After enjoying myself over the summer, I got a serious wake-up call. If I don't have a monster fourth quarter, I am not going to hit my numbers for the year.”

These comments serve as a reminder that the annual business plan created at the beginning of the year is only good if you are following it consistently, the numbers are real and you are within 10 percent — plus or minus — of your target. Having a strong fourth quarter, whether or not you're in Stephen's predicament, is good for your business. All that's required is some honest analysis of your progress to date, coupled with a clearly defined plan of action.

Two things are required in order to reach your targets: First, you must be clear about what it takes to achieve your goals. Second, you have to be convinced that if you diligently perform those activities you have at least a 50/50 chance of success. Just be careful: When goals are set too high, it's difficult to muster the confidence and courage to make the effort. And if goals are set too low, they're either reached too quickly and easily, or are soon ignored. Most importantly, goals need to be linked to your long-range business plan.

Step 1: Revisit Your Five-Year Business Plan

Creating a working business plan is simple if you are willing to work it — and that is a big if. As you revisit your plan, you will find it helpful to define the specific elements that contribute directly to achieving the results you want. These elements will serve as indicators of your future success.

Keep these elements simple as you gear up for the fourth quarter. Think in terms of the following:

  • What is your current total number of ideal clients? How many do you want to add by the end of the year? What is your current versus projected assets under management?

  • What are your current sources of revenue — fees on assets, fees for financial plans, fees for advice, commissions from insurance and annuity products, etc.?

  • What are your fourth-quarter expenses — distribution to partners, salaries, marketing, administrative, overhead and bonuses?

  • What is your projected net 2006 annual revenue and personal income?

Also consider the constitution of your current practice: Are you part of a wealth-management team or in a private practice? Who are the players? What are each individual's roles and responsibilities? What adjustment, if any, does each individual need to make in order for you to have a monster fourth quarter?

Here's the drill: Assign a number to each of the above questions and write out your responses on a blank piece of paper. Then, in terms of each question, project where you want your business to be in five years on another sheet of paper,. You have now revisited your desired future — long-range business plan — right along side of what you need to do today to have a monster quarter.

Step 2: Define Your Metrics

The secret to meeting your goals is to make sure you are measuring the right indicators of future success on an annual and quarterly basis. When establishing fourth-quarter goals, be bold and select a challenging-but-realistic target for each one. Force yourself outside your comfort zone and avoid any form of complacency. Continually measure the results you achieve for each.

Some targets to consider include:

  • Retention of minimum and ideal clients.

  • Number of new ideal clients and existing clients upgraded to ideal.

  • New assets, including the percent that are managed on a fee-basis.

  • Revenue generated.

Step 3: Establish Your Fixed Daily Activities

To ensure that your activity is the right activity, you must be able to link everything you do each day to your fourth-quarter targets, which in turn are linked to your metric targets and five-year goals. In other words, your activity must “propel” you through the fourth quarter and position you to be on track for where you want to be in 2007.

If you're currently working from a business plan, pull it out and revisit it with a focus on having a monster fourth quarter. Make certain you are projecting far enough into the future, thinking big enough, measuring the right indicators and staying on your critical path to future success.

Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.
oechsli.com

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