The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


Leave a comment

Success Systems For Your Firm

We are in our second cycle of blogging about Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, and sincerely hope that you are gaining additional guidance and support for implementing best practices in your firm.

Ironstone focuses on 4 key fundamentals that we refer to as the Fundamental 4.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Each of the 4 key fundamentals have 8 sub-categories that you will use to begin creating your systems.  Visit our website to see each sub-category to start your system processes.  www.IronstoneHQ.com

In series one, “How To Increase Your Effectiveness,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/how-to-increase-your-effectiveness/   we reviewed how you can increase your effectiveness by using reports and tracking systems in your firm.  When you define your standard operating procedures and create multiple tracking and reporting systems the operational effectiveness of your firm is improved.

Clients and prospects come into direct contact with each of your systems.  To provide extraordinary service you must pave the path by implementing and updating each system.

How To Start

Start by developing the external and internal processes for each sub-category of the 4 key fundamentals.  Formally communicate these processes with clients and team members in order to achieve the mission and vision you have established for your firm.

 “Inch-By-Inch It’s A Cinch!”

For each process/system that you create, follow these steps:

Step 1:  Introduction

Your introduction should include the following components:

  • Title – name the process
  • Purpose – describe the intention/objective of the process
  • Scope – identify when and to whom the process applies
  • Roles – list the roles and functions of those involved in the process
  • References – include any reference documents that help form parts of this process.

Step 2:  Steps/Procedures

Begin writing a list of each step needed to perform the process.  Each set of procedures must be followed to accomplish a given task.

Step 3:  Mapping

Describe the event and the amount of time that is required for the process.  Describe the inputs, activities, sequences, and decision points within the process.  Use flowcharting to provide a visual aide to the process.  Within this step Ironstone has found that a checklist of each output will help to validate that the action is completed.

In the Mapping Step you should also include exit criteria.   Describe an output’s state (or condition) required before the process or procedure can be considered “complete”.

Step 4:  Metrics

For most processes that you create, you will want to ensure that the process is measured to determine its contribution to your firm.  Determine what key metrics you will monitor and compile data that will demonstrate the ROI from the process. Be sure to review any areas that should be improved.

Step 5:  Document Control

Create a chart that contains the history of any revisions made to your document.  In the chart, include the date, the revisions that were made with a brief description, and the person who made the revision.

Your systems and processes will provide consistency throughout your practice, and Ironstone can provide you with templates and checklists to help you get started as well as review your current processes to identify the gaps that are most commonly overlooked.  Contact us for assistance in creating proven and effective systems for your firm.
 
 
Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™! 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Leadership

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Stay Competitive By Adopting A Higher Value Business Model For Your Firm

In our first blog series focusing on strategic planning and your firm’s business model (https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/how-to-define-your-business-model-and-set-the-objectives-that-will-bring-it-to-life/) we reviewed types of business models including solo, silo and ensemble firms and how strong ownership mentality helps drive success and creates focus to leverage services offered to your clients.

We also identified that your business model explains the flow of money within your firm along with identifying the services that your clients find valuable with a focus on what the largest income generator for your firm is.

Your business model has been and needs to continue to evolve for a variety of reasons including industry commoditization and increased competition.  In order to stay competitive and set yourself apart from your competitors, adopting a higher value business model will be a vital part of your firm’s success.

The structure of your business must change in order to support your new business model If not you will experience:

  • declining revenue growth
  • deteriorating client satisfaction
  • increased levels of stress on your team
  • erosion of market share
  • loss of credibility

As you change your business model, you will need to solve complex wealth management problems and build stronger relationships with your clients, all of which will require added resources.  Clients are desperately seeking advisors that they can rely on.  Provide a business model that enables them to:

  • Trust that their advisor will act in their best interest at all times
  • Know their advisor is there when needed
  • Know that fees have been minimized
  • Retain control of their assets
  • Provide meaningful educational opportunities

Providing this type of business model is important, but do not forget to share your business model with your clients and prospects.  After all, you need to educate and demonstrate what makes you different from the rest!

Include the following items while you review and refine you business model:

  • Key Partners
  • Key Activities
  • Value Proposition
  • Customer Relationships
  • Customer Segments
  • Revenue Streams
  • Channels for Reaching Clients
  • Key Resources
  • Cost Structure

Ironstone can assist you in developing an up-to-date business model that meets the needs of your clients. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Business Model.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!  What challenges do you face in setting yourself apart from your competitors? We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Business Development-Branding


1 Comment

Implementing Team Development Programs-Often Overlooked

Learning management is a strategic component to the overall human capital mission of advisory firms and is paramount to team development.  Advisory firms should start by integrating team development programs in order to enhance employee performance.  Forward-thinking executives are continually improving the effectiveness of their teams by refining roles, expectations, and interpersonal communication in order to create accountability for results.

Your goal should be to apply and utilize a team development method that impacts your firm’s bottom line in order to gain the highest return on your learning and development investment.

Ironstone focuses on four major components that are necessary for a fully functioning workforce and implements the performance approaches to drive development.

By implementing a team development program you eliminate the need for micromanaging.

Preparation — in order to create great teams, you need to prepare to support the success of your team.  Design a culture that fuels passion, purpose, and growth.   Deliver a clear message to your team that their job is important and that you stand behind them.  Give employees the basic knowledge and skills to excel within the culture that you have created.  Share with them effective forms of communications, encourage them to ask questions, and acknowledge their contributions to the overall goals of your firm.

Incentives – Incorporate compensation into the successful execution of the firm’s goals.  One of the most powerful motivators is through the use of a performance incentive compensation plan.

Benefits –  You can become creative with the benefits that you offer to your team.  In addition to the traditional benefits such as medical insurance and retirement plans, many firms are finding that creating a flexible work environment is a good employee motivator –  increasing the desire for individual skill development for the employee.

Technology –  Providing the proper technology and training for your team to perform their job is essential to overall team development.   We have found that many firms do not take this component seriously or place much effort in assuring technology and training needs are met for employees.    Obsolete or barely functional technology tells employees their job is not important and their time is not valued.

Once you have put these components into your human capital mission, you will find that employees are capable of managing their position in the firm.  Support your team members and empower them to be as great as they can be.

“A company that does not support, empower and provide proper development

 to employees can take a great team to a problem in a very short time.”

Ironstone can assist you in developing a team development program.   We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving developing or starting your team development program.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!  What does your firm do to promote team development?   We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Strategic Planning-Business Model


Leave a comment

Business Plans -Creating A Roadmap For The Success Of Your Firm

The main objective of strategic planning in your firm is to create an uncomplicated plan that clearly defines the direction of your practice. A business plan embodies your set of business goals and how they can be attained. Overall, a business plan supports the business model and explains the steps to achieve the goals of that model. You will want to be as specific and detailed as possible in each area of your business plan.

The goal of your business plan should be to create a roadmap for the success of your firm.

Ironstone’s research has shown us that approximately 40% of financial advisors actually have a written Business Plan and even fewer have a marketing plan. Those firms that implemented a completed business plan have 50% more profits and revenue than firms without a plan.

Your business plan will help you:

• Evaluate your firm and your position relative to your competition
• Provide a laser like focus to your marketing efforts
• Support your infrastructure to provide for the needs of your firm
• Diagram a route for your success

Focus Areas To Include In Your Business Plan:

An executive summary – Include your unique value proposition, how you will obtain new business, client retention practices, and your competitive advantages.
Practice Overview – This snapshot of your practice includes how it’s organized, its essential purpose, and other formalities such as founding date, legal licensing, location, etc…
Situation Analysis – Interpret the state of the environment & describe your competitive position along with the operating & financial conditions of your firm. Use a SWOT analysis in order to define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Market Summary – Describe your niche markets.
Market Analysis – Stay abreast of new market strategies and understand the needs of your community. Research current trends and potential growth in your demographic area and industry to explain how you will improve your position in the market. Include statistical information showing your current position in the market share.
Market Needs/Service Offerings – describe what your firm provides to clients & prospects. Items to include are pricing, how you will meet the needs of your clients, advertising and client service.
Competition – Analyze your competition & how your processes outweigh your competition. Explain where you want to be in relation to your competition and how you plan to reach that goal
Keys To Success – Identify three or four areas that you will focus on for optimal success.
Critical Issues – Identify three or four goals or issues that your firm plans to achieve during the year. Develop a strategic plan of how you will obtain each objective
Marketing Strategy – Attach a copy of your marketing plan.
Marketing Objectives – List the objectives of your marketing plan.
Financial Objectives – List the financial objectives of your firm and include your sales and expense forecasts along with checkpoints that will gauge performance levels.
Exit Strategy – Outline your succession plan – timeline, person(s) to retain your practice.

Once you’ve developed your business plan, don’t file it away until the end of the year when you’re making the appointment to see your CPA.   Use your business plan as a GPS guidance system for running your practice. Update it often; real-time changes are ideal, quarterly at a minimum.  Communicate your business plan to your team in order to effectively bring it to life and track milestones to enhance your overall business focus.

As you begin to develop or review your business plan, contact Ironstone for tips and best practices that will assist you in taking your firm to the next level.  We have numerous tools and aides available for you and insight that will help you reach the goals you have set for yourself and your firm.
Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Business Development – Referral Networks
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


1 Comment

How To Define Your Business Model And Set The Objectives That Will Bring It To Life

How To Define Your Business Model And Set The Objectives That Will Bring It To Life

Follow us as we explore the first of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™ – Strategic Planning:  The main objective in this fundamental is to create an uncomplicated plan that clearly defines the direction of the practice.  Primary focus areas include business and succession planning, creating organizational structure, and collaboration amongst the management team.  It is crucial for management to develop realistic goals and objectives creating the framework for team member focus.  Even more crucial is management’s ability to communicate these goals so that the common focus permeates throughout the team.  Plans and models that are stored on a computer are seldom implemented and likely to be forgotten.

What type of business model are you following?   Solo, Silo, or Ensemble?

Strong ownership mentality helps drive success and creates focus to leverage services offered.

  • A Solo Firm has a single professional advisor position, typically the firm owner.
  • A Silo Firm is a producer group in which multiple advisors collectively share overhead and expenses but remain independent and have separate client bases
  • An Ensemble Firm is a multiple advisor firm that operates as one firm, with advisors generally paid on a defined compensation model.

Are you following the right business model for your firm and what is the difference between a business model and a business plan?

  • A Business Model ascertains how your business makes money.   It will identify the services that your clients find valuable.  The business model will focus on the largest income generator for your firm.  
  • A Business Plan embodies your set of business goals and how they can be attained.

Overall, the business model explains the flow of money within the company and the business plan outlines the structure needed to obtain that flow of money.  A business plan supports the business model and explains the steps to achieve the goals of that model.  If you change the business model, you will also need to change the business plan.

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every firm.  Ironstone works with highly successful firms operating with different business models.  You can make your business model decision after considering your goals and objectives.

Contact us for help in preparing your Business Model.  Use this guide to help you get started on setting the goals and objectives that will serve as the foundation of your Business Model.

 

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next post in the series:  Business Development – Niche Marketing