When attending conferences, I always like to have a question in mind to ask each participant that I meet. I recently attended a conference in San Francisco with over 200 financial advisors in attendance, and with the New Year approaching, I decided to ask each advisor what his or her firm’s goals were for 2011.
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Going into the conference, I expected to hear goals that focused on increasing assets under management (“AUM”) through increased client count and share of wallet, improving profitability, acquiring another firm, optimizing efficiency, and managing risk. What I actually learned surprised me. None of the firms that I spoke with had goals established for 2011. In fact, none of them could share with me their formal goals for 2010, 2011, or the next 5 years.
Goal planning is important in all areas of life, and it is especially important when running a business. The most limited resource today for financial advisors seems to be time. Time to spend with your clients, manage money, and market your business comes at a premium and needs to be protected. Strategic goal planning can help your firm to maximize this scarce resource by focusing your efforts on those activities aligned with your firm’s goals, while eliminating or reducing those that are not.
With the year winding down, consider setting up time with your principals to meet on a regular basis until an agreed upon set of firm-level goals are established for 2011. Once established, below are additional steps to consider:
1. Clearly communicate the goals to all employees, and how their work directly impacts reaching them.
2. Identify SMART Goals (Simple, Measureable, Actionable, Reasonable, Timely) that align directly with your firm’s strategic goals for the year across all roles in the office. Consider asking your employees what SMART goals for their role they feel would help to achieve the firm’s strategic objectives.
3. Establish time at least once a quarter to review progress, and communicate the results to all employees in the firm.
4. Engage your current custodian’s practice management consulting practice to assist you in reaching your goals. If increasing AUM is your firm’s primary goal for 2011, leverage your custodian’s practice management resources to identify some of the best practices for accomplishing this.
Investing a little time in strategic goal planning can go a long way to ensuring that your firm is on focused on the right activities and deploying energy where it can have the greatest potential for positive impact throughout the upcoming year.
George Tamer, Director, Strategic Relationships, TD Ameritrade Institutional, Division of TD Ameritrade, Inc. George can be reached at
TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC/NFA. This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where TD Ameritrade is not authorized to do business. Past performance of a security does not guarantee future results. All investments are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of the principal invested. The foregoing is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or professional advice.