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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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SWOT Yourself! How I Saved Hours Every Day & You Can Too

fly swatter“Boss man, I just don’t have enough time to get everything done!” How often are you hearing this from your rock-star team? This time of year we should be feeling a sense of renewal and experiencing a fresh start! Often times, the opposite occurs as we are inundated with year-end reports, implementing new strategies and keeping up with daily business.

Embedded in my mind are the weekends as a youngster. Every Saturday, like clock-work, my mom and I had “chores” to do inside the beautiful farmhouse where I grew up. She always told me, “We have to finish our work first and then we get to go have fun.” Why that is stuck in my mind 30 years later, I have no idea. What I do know is she knew how to manage time.

We have all read hundreds of articles on time management tips, taken time management courses and received multitudes of advice. All of these workshops, articles and advice have provided me exceptional tools as well as vital components to effective time management. Time Management models will vary for each person on your team but the goal will be the same – Effective Time Management. I have found the best way to keep myself on track is through the development and use of a “model day” format where I create blocks of time from my job description.  I have taken my so-called short fallings from last year and incorporated time for interruptions, time for NO interruptions and time for unplanned urgencies. Start your new year with these simple steps, perform them yourself and then share with your team.

SWOT Yourself!  

Most of us have participated in SWOT analysis projects, but usually related to our overall business plan.  Have any of you or your team members performed a personal SWOT analysis? You can incorporate an individual SWOT analysis into your overall business plan; link them to personal team development, tracking goals and performance reviews. Once you have completed your analysis, incorporate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats into a list of tasks to complete with an action plan and make it happen!.  

Download Ironstone’s SWOT Analysis Template Here

Create Your Time Management Plan

Having a snapshot of how you intend to perform your day is essential to effective time management.  Time and time again I end up with “to-do” lists scattered everywhere, 10 post-it notes stuck on my desk serving the purpose of reminding me what needs to be done. Rather than giving me a sense of organization, I am bogged done with stress, anxiety and a sick feeling in my stomach caused by ineffective time management.

We have created a model day template to assist you to:

  • Manage time effectively
  • Improve organization skills
  • Boost time management skills

Ironstone’s template allows you to organize, track and monitor progress by providing 4 tabs within one worksheet.

  • My Model Day Your model day is your intended plan for completing job duties. Use this as a guide to manage your time each and every day.
  • Time ManagementUse the time management worksheet to gain understanding of how much time is spent on projects scheduled in your model day plan. You don’t need to do this on a daily basis; a periodic check will give you insight on how much time you are using wisely, wasting or necessary adjustments needed to improve time management.
  • Priority ItemsAt the end of each day, allow yourself time to organize and prioritize the most important tasks you want to accomplish the following day. This will allow you to start each day feeling energized, empowered and organized. Keep your priority items to 5 or 6 tasks depending on the amount of time you anticipate will be needed for each.
  • Other projects I like using the “other projects” worksheet to record my never ending list of things to be done. Having this worksheet incorporated into my time management plan allows me to keep my “to-do list” in one location and transfer projects easily to my priority worksheet as others are completed.

 Download the Ironstone Model Day Worksheet  HereTip- add a worksheet to the template with a monthly calendar.

Question: What challenges do you face in your office with time management?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.    

Additional Time Management Resources;

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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!   

 

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PASSING THE TORCH – PART II Your Successful Succession Strategy  

Advisors specialize in helping clients prepare for life events such as retirement, and counsel them on the prerequisites for reaching their goals.  Having said that, why don’t the 42% of advisors who are within two years of transitioning, have their own financial plan in place?*  Align your succession plan with the long-term strategy of your firm, and , it will become an integral part of your business practice.  Part I of Succession Planning,  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/passing-the-torch-succession-planning-part-i/, briefly outlined the succession strategy; below is an in depth review of the key factors.

EVALUATE THE PRACTICE, DEFINE YOUR GOALS, DESIGN A PLAN

There are multiple ways of passing your practice to others.  The ideal time to coordinate your transition is 10 years; strategy options will decline the longer you wait to implement your succession plan.  There will most likely be changes and adjustments along the way regardless of your time frame and pre-planning; stay flexible in the execution of your plan.

  • Start early as you see your business value increase
  • Use a SWOT analysis to define the structure and goals of your practice by outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Use Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™ to shape your business, ideas and solutions
  • Identify the reputation and legacy you want your practice to establish
  • Identify key roles that require continuity and are essential to your firm’s success
  • Establish a short-term/emergency and long-term succession time-line; initial planning to closing the sale
  • Outline 10, 5, and 1-year milestones to achieve, as well as potential milestones following the transition

You will also want to identify the nature of the sale

Internal

  • Sell your ownership to one or more partner(s) of the practice
  • Sell your ownership to a junior partner who was hired specifically for succession
  • Transfer your practice to a relative

External

  • Sell your practice to a strategic partner in exchange for ownership in the larger firm
  • Sell your practice to a wealth management firm e.g. bank

PREPARE THE PRACTICE FOR TRANSFER

Include your CPA and attorney in this process to council your decisions and efforts as you outline the formalities of the transfer.  Build a succession plan that incorporates events that occur in your practice.  Some areas of focus include:

  • Determine the value of your practice and cultivate these drivers of valuation:  Adequate time for succession, client retention, reliable earnings, normalized earnings and AUM/REV
  • Assess your client segmentations
  • Restructure your organization design if necessary
  • Review and prepare formal documents such as financial statements, business plan, marketing plan, etc.
  • Upgrade your technology platform
  • Hire potential successors or search for external buyers
  • Finalize legalities – non-disclosure/non-solicit agreements, negotiations, possible discounts on sales, corporate structure
  • Create equity participation plans for employees
  • Prepare for mergers, acquisitions, financing
  • Launch new market penetration initiatives
  • Organize transfer of assets

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR TRANSFER

In order to transition from your practice you need to solidify a sense of purpose beyond the transition.  This will eliminate your fears and will sustain your emotional commitment to the transition.

  • Define your role in the practice after the transition– e.g. short-term advisor role, ambassador role that provides emotional connections to long-term relationships
  • Define your personal goals, beyond the practice, by developing interests and securing financial resources independent of your business

PREPARE YOUR TEAM FOR TRANSFER

Communicate the changes to the entire team, as well as memorialize processes and systems that are repeatable and no longer require your supervision  This will create a seamless transition and increase the value of your practice.

  • Delegate your responsibilities to your entire team to reduce the burden on one or two people
  • Collaborate with your team and incorporate their contributions to secure their “buy-in” of the changes
  • Create and document processes, policies, procedures and systems to create confidence for your clients and future buyer(s)
  • Define and refine team roles, responsibilities and job descriptions

CHOOSE YOUR SUCCESSOR(S)

A common misconception is that a succession plan involves only finding a successor for the business owner; however, there is often more than just one role that requires continuity and is essential to the success and growth of your practice.  There is also much debate surrounding the topic of whether you should inform team members if they are in the talent pool for advancement to leadership positions.

In Ironstone’s research, we have found the answer to be quite clear…….Tell Them! This will not only motivate team members to aspire to be a part of the talent pool, it will safeguard you from prematurely losing your top performers to the competition.

  • Determine criteria for welcoming new leadership – e.g. leadership/management ability, cultural fit, shared firm vision
  • Assess personality types and preferences to understand your workforce potential and identify your high-potential employees
  • Be open to having multiple successors fill the shoes of a key role – e.g. changing from a single advisor to a board or committee

DEVELOPMENT, REFINEMENT AND PLANNING

The research is shocking – only 26% of firms have processes in place to develop internal talent.** Defining and designing career paths within your business are essential to combat unnecessary employee turnover.  This process involves mentoring and coaching to prepare high-potential team members for advancement.

  • Continuous evaluation of your current talent will help you recruit and promote from within
  • Develop pools of talent who are at various stages of readiness for promotion or new assignments
  • Support learning through relevant work experiences and daily assignments
  • Identify and develop pools of talent for all critical areas in your organization, not just leadership

PREPARE YOUR CLIENTS FOR TRANSFER

Preparing your clients for the transfer is critical.  You must create confidence for your clients with the new advisor(s) and that they believe their needs and interests are in good hands.  The key is to make your absence a farewell rather than a loss to the business to ensure clients will stay with you through your transition.

  • Develop deep relationships and a communication plan that reaches clients, stakeholders and business partners
  • Inform clients of the succession plan, introduce them to the successors, transfer the relationship
  • Communicate any changes in client account structure, point person, etc.
  • Encourage and ensure that all interaction gravitates to the new leadership before your transition is complete.

IN CONCLUSION

Your successors are at the heart of your achievement!  Groom your practice and invest in successors through realistic developmental expectations of high performing leaders.  At each interval of your plan and your transition, stay realistic and take time to make necessary modifications.  A refined process will secure the chances of exiting with a prosperous outcome for all parties involved.

Strategic business planning includes succession planning.  Creating value for your firm that you can later sell will require that you look at your core values, vision and mission.

Ironstone will assist you with each stage of succession planning and provide tactical approaches to strategic planning, operational and human capital fundamentals that are vital components of successful succession planning.

*2012 AdvisorOne, **2012 IN Adviser Solutions Succession Planning Study

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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
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