The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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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:

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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


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Foster, Strengthen & Maintain Relationships Through Client Appreciation Events

Give your clients a reason to be loyal! Hosting client events are an integral part of your overall business strategy and comprehensive marketing plan. Taking the time and effort to plan targeted events will:

• help you foster, strengthen and maintain relationships with your best clients
• increase the percentage of wealth you manage for your clients
• generate referrals
• defend your position with competitors

Most advisors will agree that there is no better compliment than to receive a spontaneous referral. Incorporate a strategy in your marketing plan to generate quality referrals and networking opportunities through client appreciation events. When this strategy is integrated, advisors must commit to a specified amount of face time for client relationships to develop.
Be proactive and consider incorporating no less than 4 events each year. Plan a balanced mix of educational and social events. Social events can be planned for select groups of clients who share similar passions or consider hosting a large all-encompassing event.

Establish The Goal Of Your Event
Consider the goal of your event before you begin the planning process. Are you interested in connecting with a smaller group of people on a more personal basis or do you want to touch all of your clients? Your answer will determine the size and theme of your event.

Are Your Events Boring?
If you are finding that clients are not attending your events and not bringing guests, most often the reason is because your event is boring. Work towards success and make the engagement worthwhile so that you capture the interests of your clients. Learn the passions and interests of your clients and build events that will spur their interest.

Make Your Event Easy To Attend
Put extra effort in planning your event so that guests arriving feel welcome and comfortable from the time they arrive! Consider issues like transportation, parking, and a central location where your firm will greet and register your guests.

Ironstone offers an event planning checklist along with an event planning idea list to make your client appreciation events easy for you to plan.

Client Appreciation Event Ideas
• Open House
• Holiday Parties
• Gardening Classes
• Cooking Classes
• Movie Events
• Yoga Instruction
• Golf Instruction
• Retirement Parties
• Dance Instruction
• Financial Education Related Events
• Entertainment Events-dinner theater, comedy or magic show, fashion show
• Food, Drink & Tasting Events
• Charity Events
• Art Events
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Keep an open mind and hone in on the passions of your clients.

Keys to Success
The success of your event will depend on your understanding of your objectives and how well you know your clients and their personal preferences. Be sure to address the following  key areas:
Define your objectives. What do you hope to accomplish (referrals, good will, etc.)?
• Choose the right event. What event will draw clients?
• Invite the right clients. Who should be invited (for smaller events) and how will you get them there?
• Pay attention to details. What needs to be planned to execute the event flawlessly?
• Convey your appreciation. What do you need to say to make your clients feel truly valued and want to tell their network about your firm?

And finally, DO NOT forget to follow up! Make it standard procedure to follow up with clients who attended and have written process for how and when the follow up will take place.

Ironstone can assist you in developing successful client appreciation events. 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. Through our experience, there are vital steps in the event process that get overlooked.  Download our event planning checklist – 5.17.12Event Checklist

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Client Appreciation Events.  We want to hear from you!  Share your best ideas here!  What events has your firm hosted that produced the best results?  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: The Human Element-Team Development
• 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


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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