t’s tough making it through your first year in the financial advisor business. It’s going to be even tougher without some specific goals to give you focus. If you set goals though, you’ll have some framework for deciding how to manage your time and money.
Your first-year financial advisor goals should be as specific as possible – so you know when you’ve achieved them. And write them down: People who write down their goals are 33% more successful at attaining them than people who keep their goals in their heads.
Here are some of the most important objectives for your first year as a financial advisor.
1. Have a business plan.
The sooner you can do this, the better. A business plan isn’t just a binder on a shelf. Developing a good business plan will give you a track to run on every day. Your goals should be integrated into your business plan, of course – along with as much specifics as possible about how to achieve them.
Don’t do this alone – ask your peers and trusted mentors for input. Get some help from experienced executives. Which brings us to…
2. Recruit an informal ’board of directors.’
Every new entrepreneur can use some expert advice from time to time. Your informal ‘Board of Directors’ can keep you out of a lot of hot water, and avoid some serious mistakes that can hold back your progress.
Your informal board of directors should be made up of trusted and experienced people who are rooting for your success – and who have specific professional knowledge of various dimensions of running your business. The various professional financial advisory industry groups can help get you started. You can also get help from organizations like SCORE – the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
3. Decide on your metrics – and have a system for capturing them.
Metrics are vital in goal-setting. Without defined metrics with long-term relevance, you can’t track progress. And if you can’t track progress, you can’t make decisions. You won’t know when and what to adjust.
Don’t try and track too many metrics at first. You’ll wind up spending so much time tracking and analyzing them that you’ll start procrastinating your unpleasant but necessary prospecting and sales activities.
Just pick a few – and track them carefully.
Here are some good things every new financial advisor should be tracking very closely:
- - Number of calls made
- - Number of new client discovery/fact-finder appointments kept per week/month
- - Number of proposal delivery meetings kept.
- - Marketing/Advertising spending
- - Number of new clients
- - Client cost of acquisition (4 ¸ 5)
- - Closing ratio (3 ¸ 5)
- - Revenue per client
4. Delegate or outsource non-core tasks.
Your job is to call and meet with prospects and serve clients. It’s also to work on your business processes and ensure a positive client experience from front to finish. You also need to keep a finger on your finances and expenses. Everything else that distracts you from these tasks should be pushed off your schedule.
Tasks that successful planners commonly outsource or delegate include:
- - Bookkeeping and accounting
- - Marketing
- - IT
- - Web development and maintenance
- - Copywriting and blogging
- - Human resources and compliance
- - Responding to routine emails
- - Scheduling
Many people outsource to independent contractors or outside firms. Some things are usually kept in house and delegated to staff. When you can keep the lights on, strive to bring on an assistant to help you manage these non-core tasks.
It’s tempting to manage all these things yourself. But you’re a financial advisor. You’re probably about as good at doing all these things yourself as your clients are at do-it-yourself financial planning.
5. Develop a solid Web presence for in-bound marketing.
You need a website optimized for inbound marketing and lead capture. It’s 2020. You can prospect all you want – people are still going to visit your site before they do business with you. Make your website stand out with value-added content. And make it easy for your prospective clients to contact you – and leave information for DRIP marketing.
Invest in the best practice management software you can, and use it. Automation has a number of important benefits for the advisor:
- - It gives you a track to run on every day. So you don’t ever have to twiddle your thumbs and wonder what you should be doing. Your automation platform will feed you some numbers to call and tasks to follow up on every day.
- - It reduces potential for human error.
- - It lowers errors and omissions insurance premiums.
- - It increases your business’s value to a future buyer.
And most importantly…
- - It frees you up from mundane tasks and busywork so you can prospect… so you can prospect, sell and serve your clients.
7. Design a “Perfect Day.” Then rack them up.
If you were hyper-focused and perfectly disciplined, what would be the best, most productive day you could possibly put together for revenue production?
Here’s an example of a perfect day for a lot of people:
- - 50 phone calls to prospects.
- - 20 walk-in introductions at area businesses.
- - 1 meeting with existing client/annual review
- - 1 industry or networking event.
- - Quality time with family
That’s a lot to cram into a day, but it’s possible. You just have to have a plan when you walk into the office at the start of the day, and be ruthless about being on task until it’s time to knock off.
You can’t control anything else in this business. But you can absolutely control whether or not you have a perfect day.
Don’t forget that last one, too. It’s important.
Work out your own “perfect day.” Then strive to have three of them each week.
Reward yourself after every ten “perfect days.”
8. Average three booked appointments per day for five days each week.
That’s what’s going to keep you in this business. You can have all the automation and internet marketing in the world. But the financial advisory business is still kneecap-to-kneecap.
Lots of people tell you to keep two appointments per day. But then one cancellation can really hurt you. It’s not like you have to spend half your day doing annual client reviews and client appreciation events. That will come later. Use the time you aren’t doing annual reviews with existing clients and advanced estate planning work for HNW families and continue to hustle to book that one extra appointment each day.
Maybe later in your career you can go to one or two appointments per day. But in your first year, I strongly advise keeping the pedal to the metal and striving to book three appointments per day. Expect a few to fall through.
And how do you average three booked appointments per day for five days each week?
Have as many Perfect Days as you possibly can – each week. You can’t control whether anyone you ask will grant you an appointment, and you can’t control whether they will agree to become clients. But you can control how many Perfect Days you have each week.
And if you have enough Perfect Days, you’ll get your share of booked appointments. And you’ll close your share.
9. Develop your skill set.
The best investments you can possibly make early in your career are in education and self-development. Not just in certifications and developing “hard skills” but also in soft skills like sales training, listening, networking and storytelling. These skills pay big dividends, so the sooner you can take positive steps to get professional level coaching, the better. Even if you leave the financial advisor profession for whatever reason, these skills will pay dividends for you in any industry.
Make time to read trade journals, attend classes and seminars – both online and in person, and get some certifications that make sense for your business and clientele.
But do most of that after-hours and on weekends. Don’t get so focused on racking up certifications and beta-testing software for other people that you forget to prospect and sell. Don’t let training become avoidance behavior. That’s been the ruin of many intelligent but unfocused advisors.
10. Get a video presence going.
Again, it’s 2020. A vast majority of people would rather watch a video about a given topic than read an article about it. According to Search Engine Journal, having a video thumbnail show up in the search engine results on a given topic can double your search traffic. And OptInMonster.com says video marketers get 66% more qualified leads.
An introduction video in your “About Me” section is a good place to start. Get a YouTube channel going. (Here’s mine!) Just run it by compliance as appropriate so you stay out of hot water. Basic overviews of common topics are usually fine.
11. Improve yourself physically.
Fit people make more money, and get more opportunities than people who are very obese. There are always a few exceptions, of course. But the data is clear.
Getting into better shape will almost certainly be a fantastic investment of your time and effort. In fact, put a workout and clean eating into your Perfect Day criteria. Invest in a trainer. It’s good for your body. It’s good for your brain. And it’s good for your business.