Does your advisory practice have a clear path to growth?
Bryan Powell, Senior Director, Practice Management, with our partner strategist Janus Henderson Investors outlines three actionable strategies to help advisory teams establish a plan for achieving – and maintaining – consistent growth in their practice.
- According to a survey conducted by Janus Henderson and the Financial Planning Association, only 30% of advisors say they have a clear plan to grow their practice.
- Having a business plan that outlines success metrics is essential to sustaining growth because it provides clarity on the areas where team members should focus their time and effort.
- Mutual accountability and complementary skills are also key factors that can separate high-performing teams from the rest.
“What is your team’s relationship to your strategic business plan?”
“How do you make time to focus on growth consistently?”
“What steps does the team take to hold each other accountable to the growth goals of the practice?”
As a practice management consultant and coach, I tend to focus on these three questions when working with successful advisors and their teams. I’ve found that even the best advisors sometimes lose their way when it comes to maintaining consistent and meaningful growth. Most of the time, success has overtaken them, and they are now in “maintenance mode.” Other times, there is just too much coming at them daily and the focus on growth has been pushed aside to take care of immediate issues, such as compliance alerts.
To explore this topic further, Janus Henderson Investors and the Financial Planning Association® (FPA) conducted a survey to determine what common factors are inhibiting advisors in growing their practices. Among the advisors surveyed, only 30% said they have a clear plan to grow their practice.
Working with advisory teams intimately over the past decade, this result – and other findings from the survey – did not surprise me, as common themes have appeared time and again when coaching these teams to reignite their growth engines.
If you’re one of the 70% of advisors who doesn’t have a clear plan for growing your practice, I’d like to highlight three key takeaways – and actionable steps based on those takeaways – from the survey’s accompanying research paper, “Six Keys to Growth for Today’s Advisor.”
1. The anatomy of a business plan matters.
The first question I ask successful advisory teams is, “What is your team responsible for in terms of growth over the next 30 days?”
The answer to this question usually leads to a couple of additional questions. First, is there a business plan that ALL the team members are knowledgeable about and participate in? Second, are team members monitoring their progress on a consistent basis? (The importance of consistency is why the initial question focuses on the next 30 days rather than long term).
Having a business plan that outlines success metrics for growth is essential because it provides clarity on the areas where team members should focus their time and effort that will lead to growth with your ideal prospects.
With that in mind, at your next team meeting, consider asking these three questions:
- What are we responsible for as a team in terms of growing the practice?
- Who on the team is accountable for growth?
- How will we measure success on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis?
Using your team’s responses to the questions above, you can build out your measurements of success together so that there is clarity and ownership for all team members. Next, you will want to track your progress and report back to each other at least every month so you can provide recognition, pivot when appropriate if goals are not being met, and coach each other as you execute the business plan.
2. Advisors know what they need to do to drive growth but don’t always act on that knowledge.
I have a great mentor who instilled in me that every professional I have the honor of partnering with is Creative, Capable, and Resourceful. Anytime I am working with an advisory team, I repeat these words and smiles illuminate the room. The point is, most successful advisors know what they need to do – they just don’t act on it.
When we conducted the survey with the FPA, we asked about mindset and what advisors think could be getting in the way of growing their business. The top three responses were:
- 43% – I worry about appearing pushy or “salesy.”
- 30% – If I spend more time growing, it will take away from my personal life/priorities.
- 21% – Asking for new business makes me uncomfortable.
What do each of those responses have in common? They are all tied to emotions and fears that come from within. That’s why it’s essential to spend time building a plan of action that addresses areas that hold you back personally.
I recommend each team member build out a development plan that focuses on their individual areas of opportunity. In addition, there needs to be a clear outline of how to measure progress, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Now, here’s where it gets real: Measuring progress requires an element of accountability. And that’s a concept many interpret as, “If I’m not reaching my goals, I will be judged.” But accountability doesn’t have to carry a negative connotation. Instead, think about how you can shift the purpose of accountability to something positive. In other words, how can you instill a culture where, if you’re not reaching all your goals (which is inevitable), rather than call team members out for not carrying their weight, you support them and determine what they need to do to reach their full potential?
One way to accomplish this is to assign an accountability partner to each team member. These partners can meet one-on-one each week to discuss their progress as well as what might be getting in their way.
The second approach is to do this collaboratively. I have seen teams find success holding weekly (or at least monthly) meetings focused solely on growth. A team member reports on pipeline opportunities coming in the next 30 days, and the other members of the team offer coaching on specific steps they can take to ensure they execute. These types of meetings can help keep the team in a growth-oriented mindset while building confidence and instilling accountability.
3. Firms with teams grow faster than those without.
Another interesting finding from our research is that, although solo practitioners are just as motivated around growth as teams, they are significantly less likely to be comfortable with their current growth rate: 71% rated their comfort level either neutral or uncomfortable. Furthermore, only 18% of firms surveyed that brought on 10 or more clients in the past 12 months were individual advisors.
I’ve worked with some outstanding solo practitioners who built their practices by personally meeting with prospects and with their best clients as part of their daily activities, but this is becoming more difficult in today’s environment. Taking time to reflect on where your strengths are, what you love about being an advisor, and what activities are non-negotiable can help solo practitioners determine where they need to focus their time and energy.
Of course, having more team members doesn’t necessarily equate to higher growth. Only 17% of advisory teams surveyed said they strongly agree that all or some team members have documented goals in place related to growth. In addition, only 38% strongly agree that their team fully understands the goals of the business.
These findings point to one key factor I believe separates high-performing teams from the rest: mutual accountability. What would it look like if everyone on the team contributed to the firm’s goals for growth and held each other accountable as a team rather than as individuals?
Complementary skills also come into play: What strengths does each team member have and apply consistently (which is key) when it comes to growth opportunities? Once identified, these skills can be applied toward specific aspects of growing the practice.
At your next team meeting, start by outlining your specific growth goals. Then, have each team member share recent success stories related to those goals, whether it was identifying and holding a discovery meeting with an ideal prospect or uncovering a referral opportunity after delivering a WOW client experience.
I hope these ideas and suggestions help you and your team begin to develop a clear path to growth. Whether you’re a solo practitioner or part of a large advisory team, if you need assistance implementing the steps above, please reach out to your local Janus Henderson representative. We are here to assist and honored to partner with you as you continue growing and developing your practice.
Download copy of article HERE