44 INVESTMENT ADVISOR DECEMBER 2019 | ThinkAdvisor.com
rather creating a solid foundation in
your current business before setting
the goals and/or building and adding
something new. Here are seven areas of
advisory businesses that owners need
to review prior to setting goals for the
1. Core values. Do you have them and
are they implemented?
Many firm owners tend to fail in this
area. Often they take the time to write
out their core values then never implement them properly. Typically, owners
don’t explain values clearly to employees
on how values apply to their work. And
if owners do adequately explain them,
there is no follow up to see how employees are acting within the core values.
When everyone in the firm understands
how their behavior drives the growth of
the business, it’s much easier to deliver
consistently good client service.
2. Client service experience. What
can be improved? While most firm owners start out with a clear idea of what
they want the experience of their clients
to be, they often stop refining and monitoring it overtime — thinking it cannot
be improved or streamlined.
Over time, things in an advisory business tend to get more complicated,
which slows the growth of the firm.
Remember, the goal of client service is
to enhance the advice that you give and
make it better. Client service is always a
work in progress. How will you make it
better in the next year?
3. Sales process. How well do you
communicate the value of what you
provide? Most firms tend to focus on the
technical stuff (e.g., portfolio management, financial planning, insurance, tax
planning and estate planning), but they
tend to leave out the results.
What your clients really want to know
is how what you do will affect their lives
and the lives of their loved ones. What
goal can you make to communicate your
4. Employment manual. Most firms
have some kind of manual, and they
guide the culture of the firm by telling
employees about benefits — and the
benefits of working at their firm. But
they are rarely updated or improved as
the company grows.
Costs rise every year, and new programs might have been added to make
employees happier. Many owners ignore
higher cost but regularly do cost/benefit
analysis. To be fair to your employees,
and to keep them and their growing
expertise at your firm, it’s important to
keep your employment manual current
and competitive. What goal can you set
to enhance the culture of your firm?
5.Career tracks for employees.
Despite all that’s been written about
them, most firms still don’t have these
pathways for employees. Make it a goal
to create one. To keep your employees motivated and happy, it’s important
that they can grow within your firm.
If you do have one, take a hard look
to see if it is working. Are your people
growing in knowledge and productivity, getting better each day? If not, what
goal can you make to improve growth of
6. Compensation. A compensation
strategy evolves overtime and signifi-
cantly influences behavior of employ-
ees. Is your structure getting the
behavior you’re looking for? You don’t
have to start from scratch and start over
with the compensation strategy. What
goal can you make to enhance it for the
7. Marketing strategy. The biggest
problem with marketing is doing too
much “stuff.” Ask yourself if your mar-
keting strategy is hard to understand
or hard to implement, and whether it’s
even effective at all. Wherever you want
to take your firm, your marketing strat-
egy will be part of getting there. What
small goal can you set to improve it?
Don’t make big goals; make small
ones that produce great results and
work on doing a better job at this each
year. These steps should propel you to
growth beyond what you imagine is possible today.
Angie Herbers is an independent consultant to
the advisory industry. She can be reached at
This assessment is not about what your goals
should or shouldn’t be, but rather creating
a solid foundation in your current business
before setting the goals and/or building and
adding something new.