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Building Your Ark– How To Ensure Your Strategic Planning Meeting Stays Afloat

Noahs-Ark-Cartoon-600x450

While we know that Noah’s Ark wasn’t built in day, we are told Noah had 120 years to plan and strategize before the “flood” to construct an ark. It would be nice to have 120 years to build our strategic plan and to know what obstacles and challenges we will face, but we know the reality of the ever evolving financial world.

I know many financial advisors hold bi-annual or annual strategic planning sessions and year after year follow the same boring format without a true understanding of what strategic planning should be.

As many of you are reviewing year end reports and developing strategies for the new year, implement effective strategic planning sessions throughout the year to achieve the goals you envision for years ahead.

While I believe it is a healthy practice to schedule group strategic sessions, I do believe that firms are failing to carry out the strategies and tactical implementation processes discussed during these meetings. Strategic planning should be evaluated throughout the year by measuring results to identify successes, uncovering gaps in a plan and hunting for improvement opportunities on a regular schedule.

What Is Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning should strive to answer fundamental questions:

  • Where do we want to be one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now?
  • Who is our ideal client?
  • What are our major goals?
  • What is our vision?
  • What is our mission?

Your strategic planning meeting will entail forward thinking to visualize where you see your firm in the future. Review and create modifications to your vision statement in alignment with the goals of your firm five or ten years from today.

Creativity and brainstorming are essential to the quality and outcome of your meeting. Each team member should feel free to share new ideas without criticism but through inspiration. A true leader will inspire and enlighten team members to engage in discussion while feeling a sense of contribution to the overall success of the firm. When your team truly believes in the vision of the firm and contributes valuable ideas that are recognized, you will increase employee engagement, productivity and cultivate a positive culture in your firm.

Incorporate Tactical Plans Into Daily Operations

Once the strategic planning session has ended, dissect your plan by incorporating sub-headings or smaller tactical plans into your daily operations by:

  • Assign specific actions to team members
  • Create or update SOPs
  • Design a time-line or flow-chart for each strategy including specific tactical steps to ensure the goal is measurable and attainable
  • Schedule mini-meetings to measure results of a specific task
  • Share progress and results with the entire team through weekly meetings or by creating a visual blueprint in your conference room

Reviewing Your Strategic Plan

By incorporating your strategic plan into your daily operations, you will have accomplished a major milestone that many firms fall short. However, to be effective and achieve results, your strategic plan needs a time-line or flow-chart of its own. Group collaboration will be effective once or twice a year, but only if the strategic plan is tested and measured year round. Review key fundamentals in your strategic plan by:

  • Assign team members to each key issue in your strategy plan
  • Create time-lines and flow-charts for each fundamental, including review, research and testing times, success measurement and gap identification
  • Apply problem-solving techniques and offer pliable solutions
  • Identify new trends
  • Prepare detailed reports reflecting your findings

When team members become involved in the fundamental goals of the firm, productivity, engagement, employee retention, accountability and professionalism increase. Often, the team is excluded from strategic planning year round, leaving them with an overwhelmed and confused feeling after a long strategic session. Team involvement to reach vital goals year round will result in highly efficient and successful strategic planning sessions.

Following the guidelines above will ensure your “ark” is able to withstand the flood rather than sink.

Read more about Staff Meetings:

Just Another Meeting or A Meeting Of The Minds?

When Was The Last Time You Attended A Productive Meeting?

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.

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

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Share your strategic planning session successes or disasters!

 

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Create A Powerful Asset With An Advisory Board

You don’t need to tread in unfamiliar waters alone. Building an advisory board for your firm will create a powerful asset that will provide advice and objective feedback elevating the level of service you provide and improving the current client experience.

Advisory boards have no fiduciary responsibility. Their advice is non-binding. Your advisory board should provide you with great feedback and will naturally become a powerful referral engine as they gain a vested interest in the success of the firm.

Eight Steps To Creating Your Advisory Board

Determine The Objective – Your advisory board will help you look at your firm with an open mind. Objectives should include; insight to product and business development, marketing and technology, and research that encompasses emerging industry trends.

Define Your Advisory Board Member Profiles – Choose clients that will become evangelists for your firm while mentoring you as an advisor. When forming your board identify clients that can provide you with diverse skills, experience and knowledge. The ideal members of your board will be open minded, thought-provoking, problem solvers and have strong communication skills.

Establish Expectations – Make sure you have clear objectives so that board members know what is expected of them. You should be specific in communicating responsibilities, the areas in which you are seeking help, and how often you will want to interact. If private information will be discussed inform advisory members that they will be signing a confidentiality agreement. You may want to consider having board term limits so that when changes are needed, board members and clients are not offended.

Develop Board Relationships – Ask your board members for their opinions and advice, and establish a mentor/sounding board relationship with them. Express your appreciation frequently and don’t be offended if you hear something you don’t like, your advisory board must be open and honest.

Prepare For Board Meetings – Advanced preparations may include: soliciting agenda items from the board (to prevent unplanned discussions) and distributing important information prior to the meeting along with your meeting agenda. Host your meeting in a location that is free of distractions and stay on track by stimulating dialogue and having a results oriented gathering. Summarize minutes and include recommendations on key issues.

Compensation – Most board members are eager to serve and help firms and will usually not expect or inquire about compensation. Consider making a donation to their favorite charity in their honor. Make sure you comply with FINRA regulations.

Keep Board Members Informed – Keep your board members excited about your business by providing them with updates at times when you aren’t asking for their advice. The fact that they’ve agreed to be on your board means they care about your firm. Keeping them up-to-date will enhance their commitment to your practice and in turn, help them be of greater value to you.

Celebrate– Find ways to celebrate your board members affiliation with you. Create an e-mail list for high-level communication or incorporate your advisory board into your website.

Advisory Board Members can help you see what you are not seeing yourself.

Embrace the insight they offer and remove the personal barriers and

roadblocks that may be preventing you from experiencing positive change.

Ironstone can assist you in developing an Advisory Board 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.

We want to hear from you!  Does your firm have an advisory board and if so, how are they working for you? Share your best ideas here!   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: Operational Effectiveness-Client Database
• 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