One obstacle stands in the way of most financial advisors acquiring more and better clients: a lack of clarity about what they want in their own lives. How can they expect others to plan for their future when the so-called experts haven't done it?

This issue arises time after time in my coaching sessions with top advisors wanting to elevate their business to the next level. They aren't even clear about what being financially independent means. (For the record, financial independence is not achieved when someone earns enough money to afford a certain lifestyle, because it still requires continued dependence on a business or job for money. Financial independence happens when someone doesn't have to work anymore because his or her assets generate enough money to maintain a certain lifestyle.)

How close are you to achieving financial independence? Have you defined your goals and planned how and when it will happen? If not, how will you help your clients define and create a plan for their goals? To garner commitment from clients, you help them articulate a personal goal, which serves as their motivation to continue with your comprehensive financial plan. What is your motivation to excel in your profession, to acquire more clients? What is your inspiration to be a high performer?

Personal development expert Jim Rohn talks about how most people look toward the future with apprehension instead of anticipation. He says they're afraid because they haven't planned the future they want. I'm not saying we should all sacrifice everything today to ensure a fantastic future. We can't say, "I don't plan for the future because I might get hit by a bus tomorrow," but neither can we say, "I need to sacrifice my happiness today so that I can live like royalty when I'm 80." We have to strike a balance between enjoying today and planning for the future, and we do that with a plan, and with clear goals.

As a financial advisor, you spend your life planning other people's futures, so the last thing you should be afraid of is your own.

Advisors insist their clients develop goals and plans, but how many advisors actually do it for themselves? When you go to your dentist, and she tells you how important flossing every day is, you assume she flosses daily. What if you found out she didn't? You wouldn't feel obligated to floss anymore. She would have lost her position as an expert in her field; you'd doubt her authority. If flossing was so great and such an indispensable part of dental care, then she would floss her own teeth. And if planning for the future was so critical to wealth-building, then financial planners would do it.

I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of financial advisors don't have a written financial plan, thinking it's pointless to write one if they're not earning "enough" money. But as Jim Rohn says, "You don't need to be wealthy to have a wealth plan. You don't have to be healthy to have a health plan." Creating a plan for the future is how you find out you need "x" amount of money per year to pay for taxes and lifestyle and to save some for the future.

This is fundamental to your success. Take charge of your life by deciding on your financial goal of how much you want in annual revenue, drafting a plan, and articulating your reasons, values and goals. Calculate how many top clients, bringing in a certain annual minimum, you need to achieve your financial goal. Go to your existing top clients and say, "You are one of my ideal clients. I want more clients like you so I can eventually only have clients like you. I won't have to waste time prospecting or taking care of small clients, and can spend that extra time taking better care of you. Who do you know who is like you?" Referrals will come pouring in, but only take on clients who fit that ideal client profile.

Corporations understand this concept. One company decided its goal was to have 500 premier partners producing a minimum of $125,000 per year. I pointed out to their producers, "Your company has already done what I talk about in my seminars and try to get you to do. When the company approached you with the idea, 'Let's get rid of everybody who doesn't do at least $125,000 to focus energy and resources on the top people,' all you top producers loved it. I want you to do the same with your clients: Get rid of all your B and C clients, and just keep the A clients. Don't you think your A clients will love it, too? It doesn't matter what your non-ideal clients think, just as it didn't matter to the company what the low producers thought. You high performers were ecstatic that the company wasn't going to waste time, money and resources on low producers and was focusing more attention on you instead. If you did the same for your clients, wouldn't they have the same positive reaction you did?"

Even corporations have to make decisions about their future, then create a plan to make that future a reality. Are you following your own advice? Have you designed a future for yourself that inspires you to do your best every day?

© 2002 by Bill Bachrach, Bachrach & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. Bill Bachrach is the author of Values-Based Financial Planning: The Art of Creating an Inspiring Financial Strategy and other books. For more information about his services or to order his books, call (800) 347-3707 or visit the Web site,