Because it’s human nature to improve, every year about this time many financial advisors wonder, “How can I make this my best year ever?”

Here are a few ideas to help you achieve that goal.

First: Embrace the DOL rule and fiduciary standard, even if it doesn’t stick or gets watered down. Some are hoping that a Donald Trump presidency will mean a repeal of the Department of Labor’s rule.

But it won’t matter. Human and machine competition, greater consumer awareness, more consumer choice, client longevity, advisor longevity and other powerful disruptive forces are motivating many advisors to operate as true fiduciaries anyway, regardless of government regs.

These advisors are choosing to take the high road. And you can never go wrong taking the high road, right? When have you ever heard of a business failing because it chose the road of higher standards over lower ones? Voluntarily being a true fiduciary and delivering an aligned financial services experience is a smart business decision that not only helps you retain clients but gives you a competitive advantage to rescue others from advisors with lower standards. It’s hard to argue against always putting the client first, delivering more value and being more transparent. Do you want to go on record as the spokesperson for the lower standards?

Don’t waste your energy hoping the DOL rule will be repealed. Putting your self-interest aside, don’t you want President Trump and his team to work on more important things in this country and abroad than allowing you to operate at a lower standard of client care?

Second: Focus on what you can control. There are always ways to achieve business success that are totally within your control.

One is that you can be a better advisor. This is less about getting another designation and more about doing more for your clients. The vast majority of advisors have made a conscious decision to underserve. Most advisors are aware of all the things clients actually need to get their financial houses in order, but the advisors choose to help with only some. This creates a huge opportunity for other advisors to “rescue” clients from those doing less than they could.

Start by making a list of everything you do for your clients. Then prioritize the list. Compare it to everything you know that is important for your clients to achieve their goals and every risk that could derail or delay those objectives. You don’t have to do it all, but wouldn’t it be valuable to make sure it all gets done?

Where would you get such a list? You might begin with a look at your own financial plan. Everything you need for your own family’s financial house to be in order is likely the same for your clients.

What about your financial planning software? Go through every page and every element of MoneyGuidePro or your other planning software program, for example, and you will likely discover a gold mine of client value that is left unmined by most advisors. Perhaps elevating your client value is as simple as fully, or at least more fully, using your software.

After you have made your improvements, contact your best clients, invite them (with spouses) to come to your office for the bigger conversation about their future and to discuss how your new and improved client value promise will have a positive impact on their goals and their lives. You’ll be pleased to discover that they are happy to pay a higher fee for more value. Better for the offer to come from you than a competitor. As the saying goes, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Don’t wait until competition, or government regulations, force you to improve your value.

Another thing you can control is your communication skills. Technical skills are table stakes. And as the machines continue to get smarter and more effective, technical skills become more and more of a commodity. Just look at what the robo-advisors, passive investment companies and ETFs have done to the investment management business.

Here are a few ways to improve your communication skills so you will never be marginalized or commoditized:

Record, and listen to, your prospect and client meetings. Chances are this is not the first time you’ve heard this advice from me. When are you going to try it? Here’s the script that’s worked for over 30 years and continues to work today when you speak to existing clients at your next meeting:

“In order to continually improve our effectiveness at serving you, and in addition to taking copious notes, we now record all of our client meetings. Do you know how you can watch a movie a second or third time and see things you didn’t see the first time?”

Pause for a response from each person.

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