By Eric Sheikowitz & Michael Silver, Senior Managing Partners — Focus Partners, LLC

When we ask a room full of financial advisors if they have thought about business planning, most will say yes.

Ask that same group of advisors if they have actually taken the time to create a written business plan and more importantly, implement and execute it, and the majority of that room will most likely say no.

As we look back on 2017, we think that there is one thing that went right, and one thing that went wrong with regards to business planning.

What went right? More and more advisors actually took the time to put their business/marketing plan in place. This is a good thing, because at the end of the day, the advisor is the CEO of their practice. They essentially run their own “company” within the confines of the firm/office, and this presents an extraordinary opportunity. To properly take advantage of this opportunity, the smart advisor of 2017 created a business/marketing plan “GPS” that could enable them to ultimately get from where they are today, to where they want to be.

What went wrong? While there were a large number of advisors that thought about and wrote a business plan, a smaller percentage of these advisors actually took action against it. Advisors wrote the plan, but strayed from the path. This is a shame, because in our coaching practices, we have found that the top producers think, plan and document how they are going to reach their clients. They map it out, and then they take action.

For 2018, advisors need to develop a plan that they will actually use and implement against. To do this, we recommend looking at your business from three specific angles: where you are now, where you want to be, and how you will get there.

Where are you now?

  • Describe your practice as it exists today, with a focus on clients and relationships.
  • Describe your practice as it exists today, focusing on revenue and assets.
  • Ask yourself what went well this year and what could have gone better.

Where do you want to be?

  • Describe your practice in its ideal state. Don’t be afraid to dream a little!
  • Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) results-oriented goals around revenue, business development activities and new assets acquired.
  • Set softer more qualitative oriented goals around the things that support the operational and infrastructure goals for your business (Ex: onboarding process, team meetings, roles and responsibilities etc.).

How will you get there?

  • Outline the specific strategies you will employ to reach your goals. (Ex: Seminars, Client Advisory Board, Networking Groups, etc.)
  • Determine the tactics will you implement in support of the strategy. (Ex: Bi-monthly seminars on specific topics)
  • Detail the action plan that will be used to ensure each tactic gets completed (Ex: Purchase leads, develop presentation, secure venue, etc.)

Remember that most people don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan. So as you start to close out the year and get ready for 2018, take some time to plan for your success. As the great Yogi Berra once said: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.”

Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver are Senior Managing Partners at Focus Partners, LLC, a Practice Management and Marketing Coaching firm that specializes in helping Financial Advisors reach their fullest potential. For more information on their coaching services, contact them at 201-634-0789 or