The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


Leave a comment

Simple Steps to Create an Effective Compensation Plan

falling dollarsHow do you create a compensation structure that is fair to all employees, attractive to new hires, creates excitement and loyalty amongst your team and engages their learning development while increasing productivity? Reinventing the wheel is not necessary, but creativity, communication and evaluation of your existing plan are essential.

In my years of creating compensation plans for organizations, I have found the overall goals of the firm lack a link to a compensation process. For example, one of my clients would like to establish their firm as “the best place to work in town”. I love the goal but found that it doesn’t link to any current processes.    When employees read this statement every week in their staff meeting, it is fruitless, stands alone and has become meaningless. Linking the goal to various processes, specifically a compensation plan, would benefit this firm across the board.

Creating an Effective Compensation Plan

Follow these steps to create an effective compensation plan.  Communicating your compensation plan is extremely vital. Communication provides team members with a thirst to stretch themselves to reach higher levels within the compensation structure; therefore increasing engagement, productivity and development.

Compensation Analysis

  • Perform a SWOT analysis of your existing compensation plan by studying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your current structure.
  • Complete a cost analysis by focusing on your overhead and human capital costs. Determine the affordability of new hires if desired

Job Evaluations

  • Create an organizational flow chart or review and update your existing chart.
  • Review job descriptions and create, clean-up and re-align to match roles.
  • Determine roles for new hires if applicable.

Performance Management

  • Audit your current performance management system.
  • Establish goals expectations and incentives.
  • Collect and conduct 360 degree appraisals.
  • Analyze data.
  • Create professional development plans.

Compensation Plan

  • Integrate individual performance with compensation.
  • Base/Benefits/Incentives/Extras – If you haven’t read our blog  Compensation Conflict? What Employees Really Want, please do! You will find some great ideas on establishing your compensation plan.

Cost Analysis Update

  • Perform an overall cost analysis of your firm.

 When compensation plans are effectively communicated, morale and retention will improve significantly. DownloadIronstone’s Compensation Planning Checklist for use at your firm. 01.15.13IronstoneCompensationPlanningChecklist

 Question: What compensation challenges are you facing at your firm?

Let us know by leaving a comment! We want to hear from you!   

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:

Advertisements


Leave a comment

A Born Leader? Would Your Office Elect You?

We have all heard it, “He/she is a born leader!” Do you believe that to be true?

Leaders are not necessarily born as leaders, instead, they encompass the desire and willpower to become an effective leader. Successful leaders develop through education, training, self-study and experience.

With the election behind us, we can wonder what changes will take place under the leadership of our elected officials. Will our leaders serve our country, states and communities keeping promises and the  hopes and dreams of us, “the people” in mind? If you held an election today in your office, would your team choose you as its’ leader? What characteristics and qualities does a leader need in order to be chosen to lead our nation, our community or yet, your firm?

We have identified that leadership is primarily learned. The skills and knowledge a person possess contribute to the development of leadership, while other attributes make a leader unique such as:

  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Ethics
  • Character

At the most basic level, a leader is someone who leads another. That alone probably isn’t going to be enough to land a leadership victory. A true leader carries vast qualities under one hat. People are naturally drawn to successful leaders because they inspire others, they are likeable and they lead through example. Failure of leaders to live up to employee expectations is the heart of leadership tribulations.

So, How Do You Get Elected To Run Your Office?

We have gathered a list of the most important qualities employees want in a leader.  Here they are:

  • Trust Employees typically rank trust as the #1 trait essential to that of a leader.
  • People skills Employees prefer an environment where they can thrive, share and grow vs. the traditional “command and control” style of leadership.
  • Good communication skills Be honest and open about what is happening in your business.
  • Decisive Provide clarity and direction in decision making and use structured dialog to aide in reaching group decisions.
  • Motivational Strive to bring passion and positive energy to the workplace every single day. Consider the rollercoaster of the nation’s economic status – you still have your business. Provide your employees with a source of positive energy.
  • Inspiring Those that can inspire a group of people to perform at a higher level, produce more effective, efficient and productive teams.
  • Accountable Being accountable means accepting responsibility for outcomes both good and bad.  You don’t blame others.
  • Developers Leaders develop and empower their team in ways that allow their employees to feel successful, most of the time.

Leadership doesn’t happen haphazardly. It takes a lot of self discipline, a vision and a goal to continually develop and enhance your own set of leadership skills and knowledge. Leadership also means you are leading a group, working together to accomplish common objectives and goals. Being a successful leader also means you have a successful, engaged team by your side.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

-Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005) Political Economist & Author

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached. 

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

 Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

Contact Ironstone with your branding questions & let’s get started! 

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Performance Management vs Performance Reviews

It is that time of year when most of you are beginning to think about annual performance reviews. For most, it’s a dreaded process that is done only out of obligation or outdated processes in your firm.

In a recent Human Resources Forum poll, 16% of the people that responded have no performance appraisal system at all. Supervisory opinions, provided once a year, are the only appraisal process for 56% of the respondents. Another 16% described their appraisals as based solely on supervisor opinions, but administered more than once a year.*

Take your firm to higher levels of standards and accountability by burying performance reviews and adopting a performance management system. Effective leadership encompasses a continuous learning and development program with diminutive reviews throughout the year. Place focus on the goals of your firm.

Implement a performance management system that will:

  • Boost the success of your firm
  • Encourage personal development and advancement of your team members

Performance management will strengthen the foundation of your firm by:

  • Ensuring goals are consistently met
  • Provide focus on fundamental areas in your firm
  • Clarify job expectations and responsibilities
  • Improve communication
  • Compel employee behaviors that align with your firm’s mission, vision and goals
  • Enhance employee engagement and productivity

Performance management is an essential tool for top performing advisory firms.  It may be one of the more time consuming processes you implement, but will improve overall effectiveness in your firm and provide your firm with vast, positive outcomes.

Getting Started

The process of implementing a performance management system is extremely detailed.  Ironstone provides a series of steps to get you started.

  • Update job descriptions that include the purpose, duties and responsibilities
  • Set performance goals that are measurable
  • Prioritize each job responsibility and goal
  • Define performance standards for each component within the job description
  • Schedule meetings with employees to review performance and provide feedback
  • Document a record of performance
  • Implement a learning and development program readily available for employees
  • Incorporate the opportunity to gather feedback from the employee’s peers and/or clients

Encourage human resource departments, managers and supervisors to be accountable for performance improvement.  All components in your firm are part of a system that create value for your clients; the same holds true with a performance management system in that all components must be functioning to create value for your employees and the firm.

Ironstone can assist you in creating a new plan or evaluate your existing plan and collaborate and strategize with you to ensure a strong process with tactics that are cohesive with your firm goals.

We are curious!!  Does your firm hold annual performance reviews or do you have a performance management process in place?  Tell us about it!

 

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

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

Coming up next, learn about Strategic Planning and Your Firm’s Business Model

  * Step-by-step to a Performance Management System-Human Resources

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Building TRUST through COMMUNICATION

Effective communication with your clients and team requires more than staff meetings and educational seminars.  In a survey conducted by the Spectrem Group*,  the #1 reason clients left their existing advisor was due to lack of trust.  Building trust requires that you develop a relationship with your clients and prospects.   By communicating and demonstrating trust you will-

  • Build Relationships
  • Acquire Clients
  • Strengthen Your Team
  • Achieve Firm Success

In our blog, Knowledge is Power, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/knowledge-is-power/, we reviewed how effective communication contributes to the success in your firm and how to build an internal communication strategy.  Knowing that external communication is just as important to the success of your firm as internal communication, build your practice by applying these communication skills to instill trust with your clients and prospects-

 Develop a relationship:  Get to know your client or prospect.  Learn as much as you can about them.  Are they working or retired?  If retired, where did they work?  What are their hobbies?  Ask about their family and community organizations they may belong to.  Show a genuine interest in knowing who they are. 

 Practice listening:  Listen, listen and listen.  Listening is a vital component to establishing trust and an effective communication dialogue.  By staying focused on what is being communicated, you show that you are engaged in assisting your clients and prospects.   Don’t start developing opinions and compiling your answer before your client or prospect is finished speaking; rather, focus on everything being said.  By applying this tactic, you will comprehend and retain 75% more of the information you hear.

Express empathy:  Tell your client or prospect that you understand their concerns.  Let them know their success is the #1 most important factor in your relationship. 

 Use Proper Timing:  Don’t rush to sell your products and services before you have earned trust.  Trust forms the foundation for effective communication.  Once you have earned trust, you are then in a position to discuss solutions to meet your clients and prospects needs.

By becoming a trusted advisor, you are now in a position to engage in open, honest and detailed communication.  Communicate details of your firm’s vision, mission and investment process.

  1. Be clear and concise
  2. Explain how your firm differs from your competitors
  3. Review with your clients and prospects exactly what they can expect from your firm
  4. Develop a process to ensure omissions are avoided
  5. Be pro-active by asking and encouraging questions

Remember, any areas of communication that are not understood can present serious challenges to the level of trust that you have worked to build.  Last, but not least, frequent communication with clients is essential to retain a solid trusting relationship.

To be a successful advisor and grow your firm, don’t sell your products  until you have sold your trust.

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

~Jim Rohn~

We are curious!!  Do you practice communication techniques at your firm?  Let us know!

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

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

Coming up next, learn about Strategic Planning and Succession Planning

*The Spectrem Group is a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Think Client Workflows Are Corny? Think Again…….

Growing up on an Iowa farm was one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of my fondest memories was the gathering of relatives when it was time to freeze corn.  Nothing tasted better in the harsh cold winters than fresh farm corn; but the preparation of freezing corn consisted of a workflow detailing responsibilities each family member had to complete during the process.

The objective of Ironstone’s Fundamental4™ –Operational Effectiveness and the New Client Workflow, serve as the foundation of your unique process to solve problems, manage interaction, automate tasks and provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience.  The same was true when we would gather for our annual corn freezing day.

In our blog, Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy,https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/,   we reviewed two primary objectives of a client workflow system; improved efficiency and profitability.  The new client workflow will provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

The absence of any workflow model in a firm is a primary culprit for office inefficiency

Each advisory firm will have a unique process that works to the advantage of its clients, team members and the firm. Create a checklist for each of these fundamentals to allow your client workflow to take the repetitive activities and routines out of your brain and let it rise above to focus on more difficult tasks.  Download our guide for Creating Checklists:   How To Create Checklists

Review the foundation and objectives of your new client workflow, ensuring that each component is aligned to achieve goals of your firm;

  • Solve problems:  Problems are easily identified when using a client workflow system.  The system provides you the ability to assess exactly where a client falls in the process, allowing you to identify any problem areas and address them accordingly in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Manage interaction:  Client relationship management is easily managed at any given point and time.  By implementing a new client workflow you are able to identify the progress of each step being taken to ensure superior client service.  The process gives you the opportunity to communicate information and answer questions that may arise from your client.
  • Automate tasks:  Tasks will be automated with a client workflow process allowing each team member to hone in on their specific duties.  By automating tasks, you will increase efficiency and productivity within your firm.  With documented procedures in place, task productivity is available for tracking during the process.
  • Provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience:  Each  process within your client workflow system is inter-related. Workflow systems will benefit your firm by enabling you to continually provide excellent client service, concentrate on your areas of strength, build accountability for your practice, enable you to deliver more comprehensive services, assist in managing regulatory and compliance related issues and add value to your firm for re-sale purposes.

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

A workflow system should always be a work in progress. Your practice will evolve and grow; and your firm will encounter regulation, compliance and industry change. Accordingly your workflow process should continue to evolve and be updated.

We are curious!!  Does your firm use client workflows?  Which part of your client workflow reaps the most benefits?  Which part of the workflow needs to be improved?  Let us know!

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

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

Coming up next, learn about the Human Element and Communication

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020 • Connect with us:


Leave a comment

CAB Please!

With investor skepticism, market volatility and financial planners trying to differentiate themselves from competition, many advisors have plunged forward into creating client advisory boards.

What better way to find out what clients and prospects need from you than by asking your best clients.  Not only will you have the capability to position yourself to provide solutions to the most sought after needs of clients, the likelihood of client retention will increase as well.

It is easy to stray away from developing a client advisory board because of the work involved.   The payoff will out-weigh the work by helping you understand new expectations of the investor:

  • Communication frequency
  • New investment strategies
  • New product development
  • Education requirements
  • Expectations of investment managers

Engaging with a client advisory board will also prepare you and your firm for new changes and expectations that will continue to develop.

 We outlined eight steps to creating your advisory board in our blog, Create A Powerful Asset With An Advisory Board, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/create-a-powerful-asset-with-an-advisory-board/.  These steps are your starting point in creating a group of mentors to provide advice, objective feedback and ideas to elevate the level of service you provide for your clients.

Populated by the right mix of clients, your client advisory board will help you stay connected, build trust and create a competitive advantage over other firms.

Client advisory boards will also improve internal operations by:

  • Gaining new perspectives and ideas
  • Improve operating procedures; staff meetings, client workflows and team productivity
  • Improving  marketing, business development and long-term plans
  • Increase personal and business networks resulting in possible referrals for your firm
  • Increasing the value of your firm

Ironstone will evaluate your existing CAB plan and strategize with you to gain optimal benefits.  If you haven’t implemented a client advocate program, we will collaborate with you to develop a first-class plan.  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.

            The most pathetic person in the world is the one who has sight but has no vision- Helen Keller

 We are curious!!  Does your firm have an advisory board?  How has your CAB enhanced your firm and clients  Let us know!

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

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

Coming up next, learn about Operational Effectiveness and New Client Workflow

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Do You Have A Bucket List For Your Firm?

Most of us have a bucket list created for our personal lives living in our thoughts or being utilized as a functional document.  A bucket list is the thoughts, dreams and goals that we want to achieve in our lifetime.  It serves as a roadmap to guide and lead us to reach each of those goals.

A bucket list outlines:

  • A list of your life goals
  • A reminder to focus and live by your personal values
  • How you will find joy by fulfilling your goals

Your business plan should serve as the bucket list for your firm.

Developing your initial business plan is essential in achieving the goals you have realized in your mind and will provide you with a written plan to follow, evaluate and revise.   Just as you achieve and make changes to your personal bucket list, you will do the same with your business plan.

A bucket list can change your life.  A business plan will improve results.

Ironstone’s research shows 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:

  • Provide you with a complete view of your firm and allow you to examine its viability
  • Show you potential areas for growth and success
  • Ensure that your entire team is committed to each goal
  • Communicate your vision and mission
  • Help you gain an understanding of opportunities and challenges facing your firm
  • Outline areas to create strategies and tactics to reach each goal

In our blog, “Creating A Roadmap For The Success Of Your Firm”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/business-plans-creating-a-roadmap-for-the-success-of-your-firm/ we provided 13 focus areas to include in your business plan.  Refer to the focus areas when developing or updating your business plan by incorporating each to gain optimal benefits.

A well thought out “bucket list” or business plan will lay a comprehensive strategy and timeline, both personally and firm wise, for achievement and promising stages of growth.  Download our Business Overview Snapshot to get started on creating your firm’s business plan.   Business Overview Snapshot

Have a Plan B

Be sure to create back-up plans.  We all know there is one constant in life, change.  Examine the challenges you might face and determine how you will overcome them by redefining your existing strategies.

Once you have developed your business plan, don’t file it away until the end of the year.  Use your business plan as a GPS guidance system for running your practice.  Update it often; real-time changes are ideal.  Doing so will ensure  you are following your plan, creating actions to meet your objectives and allow you to hone in on areas that need re-crafted strategies.

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 bucket list, contact Ironstone for templates, 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.  Consider a team development workshop on creating bucket lists – we can help!

Last but not least, enjoy the journey!

We are curious!!  Share your bucket list with us!  What do you want to accomplish in life?

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

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

Coming up next, learn about business development and your referral network!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us: