That’s the question you want to answer for yourself when you embark on year-end planning.

It always starts in November. Advisors frantically work to finish the year strong, while planning for the coming months. And, of course, the analysis starts. As numbers people by nature, you’re comfortable with this exercise: crunching the numbers, calculating revenue, tallying up the number of new clients you onboarded over the course of the year, assessing client attrition rates, reviewing profitability margins.

These are all good numbers to know—but the analysis process shouldn’t end there.

So, where does goal setting beyond the numbers begin? First, pause and think about your clients: Do you understand what motivates them? Do you know their peer group? Who are their influencers? Do you truly know what they’re investing for? What changed this year, if anything? The answers to these questions will guide your actions in 2020, dictating how you spend your business development time and serve your clients.

Let’s look at an example:

Imagine an advisor with a full book of business, mostly clients in their 70s and 80s. She is looking to shore up the future of her business with the next generation of investors, but the advisor is struggling to determine how and where she should spend her time going into 2020: she knows that she must continue to bring value to her longstanding clients. But she also knows it’s important to grow her book of business through new demographics to ensure the viability of her practice for years to come. How can she reconcile these competing goals and priorities?

It Starts With Finding Common Ground

In this example, the advisor’s current clients (again, who are in their 70s and 80s) have children and grandchildren—these family members, who fall into the Gen-X and -Y age ranges, will be the ultimate recipients of their legacy. The younger generation is building and securing their wealth, and they like the stable record of the advisor’s firm but want the conveniences of today’s lifestyle.

There is trust needed in both of these scenarios.  It’s the penultimate example of serving clients across decades and generations. Your foot is in the door. But how do you build on that trust while also serving the clients based on their experience preferences, which are vastly different?

The reality is that both client demographics have more in common than you may think—and they can act as a springboard for our hypothetical advisor’s business development and marketing efforts. And whether your own goals mirror this advisor’s—breaking into new demographics or seizing new lines of business from existing ones—or you’re looking to embark on something new, the following template can guide you down the right path. It’s built to help you find common ground and new avenues for success that may be right in front of your eyes. And best of all, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Start with three top-level goals. In our example scenario, the advisor’s list may start like this:

1. Increase the value I bring to my client relationships

2. Build the next generation of investors into the practice

3. Enhance efficiencies through streamlined workflows and technology

Simple enough, right? Next, break down the three top-level goals into actionable steps. Keep your actions realistic, attainable, and non-complex:

1. Increase the value I bring to my client relationships:

• Develop a next-generation content strategy that focuses on legacy-building and solves the challenges this group faces.

• Utilize online and in-person events and meetings to communicate and provide education.

• Host value-add client meetings over the course of the year—introduce an all-family-members meeting toward the end of 2019 (including my current clients and next-gen family members), and set expectations at the beginning of 2020

• Create and implement a legacy plan that takes the guesswork out of how things are handled for the next generation.

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