Studies have found that Financial Advisors who create and commit to a business plan in writing are more likely to achieve their goals at a faster and more organized pace than those that try to do it by the seat of their pants. For those new to the industry, a business plan is a roadmap to help you accomplish your goals for the year and beyond, allowing you to grow your practice by design rather than by accident.
Creating a business plan and not conducting a progress review periodically is like having a Ferrari in the garage without any gas. It looks good, but is not serving any practical purpose. Monthly or quarterly reviews of your business roadmap tell you if you’re on or off course, and present an opportune time to fine tune any needed changes.
Mission & Vision Statement
This statement sets the stage and provides you, your staff and clients with the destination you are trying to lead them. In addition to defining the reasons for your business existence, it also describes your vision for fulfilling the measurable goals contained within the plan. You should give it considerable thought and yet keep it concise.
Your Value Proposition describes what sets you apart from your competition and why a client should do business with you. Doesn’t sound that important but sit down and reduce it to writing and you may be surprised that it is more difficult than you thought to identify differences between you and the independent financial advisor three blocks down the street. As you address this important component, your value proposition should address the following: (1) who are you? (2) what do you do? (3) who do you do it for? (4) how do you do it? (5) what makes you different from the advisor down the road?
Goals and Objectives
One mistake that many entrepreneurial financial advisors often make is setting only a quantitative production goal in commissions for the upcoming year. In reality, as you develop a plan, you must include goals that are core functions of your marketing and sales, client management, administration and operations as well as practice management. Goals should be measurable and many of the ones you set may indeed be quantitative, while others may be more subjective.
As part of your plan you will need to define the strategies, tactics and activities required in order to accomplish your objectives. While goals are important, without defined activities and resources they are rarely attained. Also remember to think about the resources and associated costs required to meet your goals, including human capital, technology, and other financial needs and requirements.
If properly configured it’s likely to force you to create budgets to identify your costs, anticipated revenues and hold you accountable to identify and measure material deviations to the budget and/or your goals.
Speaking of accountability, as you narrow the plan from strategic to tactical you will be able to focus on the person(s) that will be responsible for each strategy. By setting defined benchmarks, your Team will know their expectations, timelines and how to execute their duties. Success only comes through scheduled reviews and accountability, so if you are not periodically reviewing your plan and not holding your Team accountable, your goals will be much more difficult, if not impossible to achieve.