Work ON your business; not just IN it

We are constantly trying to encourage advisor/owners to treat their business as such, rather than as a practice.  The following article talks about many of the concepts that we speak about in our public forums and at conferences. Always keep in mind that you have something that can be more than just a paycheck. It can and is an actively managed investment in your time, your money, and in your family's future. CMC

October 19, 2015:  ThinkAdvisor Magazine

5 Simple Questions to Ask as an Advisory Firm CEO

By Mike Patton, President; Integrity Wealth Management

There is certainly no shortage of decisions facing an independent advisor. When you choose the Road to Independence, you must spend sufficient time working in the business as well as on the business. In this post, we will discuss a few of the things that fall into the latter category.

To clarify, working in the business refers to your position as advisor. Working on the business is your role as CEO. In the latter, you should take time on occasion to sit back, prop up your feet, stare out the window and consider some of the processes, technologies and other issues that are a part of your business. This is important for several reasons, one of which is your budget.

    1. Are you allocating your technology budget in the most efficient manner? Of course, one must also decide how much to allocate to this category.
    2. Are you spending your marketing dollars wisely? Ultimately, this boils down to creating the best experience for the client.
    3. On the investment front, is your portfolio management software a joy or a sorrow? An advisor must have excellent software, which enables good decisions and presents a clear presentation to clients.
    4. In addition, how well does each piece of your software integrate with your other programs as well as with your custodian? This last issue is vital as the size of your business increases.
    5. What about your onboarding process for new clients? Is it consistent, concise, clear, and does it address the need of the client. 

These are just a few of the items that are properly in the wheelhouse of the CEO. Of course, this applies to a small advisory firm, not a large corporation. As an independent advisor, how do you approach this? Here are a few steps you can follow. First, you must put on your CEO hat.

1)   Divide your business into the major components, such as:

  • Business development
  • Client service
  • Compliance
  • Portfolio management
  • Financial planning

Next, divide these into their subcomponents. We will use Business development as an example. These items are included to clarify the process, not as a recommendation.

  1. Business development

            a. Referrals (source)

      • Clients
      • Centers of influence
      • Seminars
      • Direct mail
      • Advertising

Finally, once your outline is completed, ask yourself questions about each item. You might consider asking who, what, where, when, why and how. Who will be involved in each item? What are the specific steps needed? If you follow this process, it should help to improve decisions.