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The industry’s leading Financial Advisors agree: Planning is one of the most important keys to getting results. Financial Advisors with robust vision and planning practices have higher net new households and higher client satisfaction scores.

Proprietary research conducted by Edward Jones has revealed that top-performing Financial Advisor practices are:

  • 3 times more likely to have a robust vision
  • 2 times more likely to plan
  • 1.5 times more likely to focus on continuous improvement
  • 1.5 times as likely to hold team members accountable for performance

According to Best Practices of Elite Financial Advisors (Bowen, J. J., Brunswick, P., & Powell, J. J., CEO Worldwide, San Martin, Calif., 2012), 70% of elite, top-earning advisors have a formal business and marketing plan.

The reasons behind the importance of planning aren’t hard to understand. Planning sets our focus on where we’re going and enables us to make thoughtful decisions about how to get there.

Without a regular focus on planning, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of days filled with urgent activities and lose sight of the work needed to drive your vision. Planning can also enable teams to be more efficient and effective, leaving more time for deeply serving clients, new initiatives, work–life balance, and other community and outside interests.

Most Financial Advisors are familiar with the standard planning best practices (i.e., creating plans that span several years and breaking those down into annual, quarterly and monthly increments; documenting and sharing your plan with your team; and measuring and following up). Edward Jones helps their Financial Advisors build their practices by taking them beyond these standard best practices, incorporating not only a clear four-step process, but also providing them with a suite of powerful, proprietary business planning tools and training programs.
The Four-Step Business Planning Process

Where do you stand now? Assess your market situation, your team and your clients.
A great starting point is to create a value proposition. Think of this as the “elevator speech” you’d give in a few seconds to a prospective client.
Why should a prospective client do business with you? What do you offer, and what makes you different than everyone else?

Next, take a look at your current business situation.

  • What is your potential market share?
  • Who are your competitors, and what makes you different?
  • Who are your clients, what do they need and how can you best serve them?
  • What type of potential client has the greatest need for your services? What type of client would you most enjoy serving?
  • How can you grow and attract new assets?

Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?
Define your mission.
Next, create your vision – a clear, measurable picture of where you want to be in three to five years. What will success look like to you? Who are your ideal clients? How will success affect your personal life, and how will you know when you have achieved success?
Based on your mission and vision, outline broad goals. These should be specific, targeted results or measures, such as new clients/households, new assets and net new assets, deepened client relationships, or service excellence measures.
Finally, break those goals down into bite-size chunks. What strategies and daily activities will help you achieve your goals?

Now it’s time to follow through and put your plan into action. Using the goals outlined in your plan, broken down into achievable chunks, identify your priorities and tackle them one by one, implementing your strategies and daily activities. Document the progress you’ve made, address any obstacles, and hold yourself and your team accountable.