Ask financial advisors if business planning is important, and most will say, “yes, of course.” Then ask if they have a business plan. If they do, ask whether they refer to it frequently and use it to guide their business development activities. You know the probable answer.
While business planning is undeniably important, it’s too often an exercise in futility. Financial advisors spend days writing yearly business plans. They cram them full of ideas, projects and financial projects that often become a distant memory by February.
In our opinion, your business objectives for the coming year should able to fit on one page. Sure, there are always exceptions. But instead of writing an MBA thesis this year, consider honing your goals down to a one-page document you can share with your team and refer to regularly. There is brilliance in simplicity.
We’ve created a one-page business plan template which you can access here for a limited time. Here’s how to use it:
1. Five-Year Vision: Start by envisioning your personal and professional life five years from today. Contrast where you are now and where you want to be in five years, so the gap between them becomes clear. Don’t be concerned about how you will close the gap between now and five years from now. The principle is this: If you can envision your future, you can achieve it.
2. One-Year Goals: Use this section to list you most important goals for the upcoming year. Most likely, these are financial goals related to assets, revenue and new households. However, feel free to include some personal goals as well.
3. Projects: Whether it’s migrating to a new CRM system, adding more fee-based revenue or finding new financial planning software, there are always projects in the works. Use this section to prioritize projects by quarter.
4. Ideal Client Profile: You inevitably have an idea of the clients with whom you work best. That’s a good start. But you also need a list of criteria that will enable you to quickly identify the right people and qualify them as prospective clients. Your ideal client profile will drive all your marketing efforts.
5. Differentiators: Fifty-six percent of financial advisors claim “outstanding personalized service” as their main differentiator. Doesn’t this seem a bit contradictory? You should be able to articulate and show what sets your practice apart from others.
6. Marketing Strategies: Use this section to list the core marketing strategies you plan to implement in the coming year. In our survey, 524 financial professionals were given a list of marketing activities and asked which actually landed $1 million-plus clients and which did not. The most effective strategies were:
- Unsolicited Referrals
- Proactive Introductions
- Professional Alliances
- Social Prospecting
- Intimate Social Events
- Educational Events
- Social Media, Website and Content Marketing
7. $1,000/Hour Activities: For most financial advisors there are a handful of activities that drive the majority of their business revenue and future growth. We refer to these as “$1,000/hour activities.” High achievers try to spend the majority of their time engaged in these activities. Also, these activities should correspond with the marketing strategies you listed in section 6.
8. SWOT Analysis: No business plan is complete without a SWOT analysis. Make a list of your internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. An honest analysis will help you identify what you’re doing well, where you need improvement in the competitive landscape.
How do you plan to get from where you ARE to where you WANT to be in your business? Consider hiring a coach who will guide you through our business planning tools and resources.
@StephenBoswell is President of The Oechsli Institute and co-author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors. @KevinANichols is the Chief Operating Officer of The Oechsli Institute and co-author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.