As I write this note, a large-scale research initiative is underway that has the potential to shape the future of your business and accelerate your professional success. Prince & Associates Inc. has been conducting advisory best-practices research for two decades and the 2010 study will build on past findings as it expands to address the topics and concerns that reflect the current operating environment for advisors.

With firsthand insights from a broad cross section of professionals, we expect to learn what makes the leading advisors so different from the also-rans-how they interact with clients, who they rely on for support, what they think about the future-and a host of other mission-critical information.

The survey will collect data in each of the following four areas that will be analyzed to help us understand the collective mindset of the advisory profession, establish a benchmark for fine tuning (or overhauling) a flagging practice and enable product and service providers to allocate their resources more effectively-all with an eye toward helping everyone achieve more meaningful results.

Structuring A Practice
Business characteristics
Firm positioning
Core products and services
Forms of compensation
Satisfaction levels
Planning efforts

Focusing On Clients
Segmentation strategies
Business development activities
2009 successes
Up-selling and referral initiatives
Professional alliances

Attitudes About Support
Information sources
Working with wholesalers
Staying abreast of trends (i.e., account consolidation)
Leveraging technical, marketing and practice management support from third parties

Perspectives On The Industry
Expectations for financial services
Concerns for the future
Accommodating change and managing trends
Setting goals

In future issues of Private Wealth, we'll be sharing key findings from the project that will give you an edge over your competitors. The findings should help you make more informed decisions, provide a context for assessing your personal aptitudes and results and help you build a framework for planning and development ... so stay tuned!!