The Agency for Financial Advisory Firms

 

Financial Advisory Firms and Goal Setting

Why Goal-Setting Should Matter to Your Advisory Firm

It’s a love-hate relationship — the candy heart that says, “It’s complicated.” It’s equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. You know the feeling. In fact, you probably know it well.

We’re talking about goal-setting — the annual activity that so many of us embark on with good intentions but often fall short of expectations. Some firms kick-start the goal-setting process at the beginning of every new year. Some use goals as guideposts for performance reviews. Some have let the practice fall by the wayside for more urgent, important priorities.

Regardless of your past experiences with the practice of goal-setting, two things are certain: 1) You likely have an opinion on it, whether it’s positive or negative; and 2) You know that it’s necessary to the long-term success of your firm and your team. In other words, it’s complicated.

In our opinion, you can’t start the goal-setting process without considering these questions first:

“How does the business benefit?” Is your firm launching a new service line? Entering a new niche market? Think of your big-picture business goals as an “umbrella” under which your individual goals should fall. This ensures you aren’t spending time on competing initiatives that take away from what your firm is trying to accomplish.

“How will you measure your success?” Have you ever heard the saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”? If you haven’t, write it on a Post-It note. Commit it to memory. Evangelize it across your entire team. You get the picture. Your goals are just words written on paper if you can’t quantify your success.

“What resources will you use?” Say it with us: Collaboration. If your goals are tied to major firm objectives (like they should be), you won’t be able to achieve them without the strengths and abilities of other departments. Cross-collaboration across all facets of your firm — from front-stage advisors to operations — produces more meaningful results.

Don’t Just Meet Your Goals — Exceed Them

That’s the Beyond AUM way. Our methodology — the objectives and key results method (OKR) — has helped countless advisors set and achieve goals, outcomes and measurables that have positioned them for sustainable, long-term success. The OKR method allows for agility, alignment with the most important strategic initiatives and cross-functional collaboration across your firm — the recipe for continued growth and improvement, and yes, actually making good on your goals.

To achieve the best-possible results, we encourage our clients to think SMART when brainstorming the goals and objectives they want to accomplish:

S: Choose the goal that sounds better to you: “Increase our client base in 2020,” or “Increase our client base in 2020 to focus on women in transition and business owners.” We’re willing to bet you chose option two, right? The more defined you make your goal, the clearer the outcome — and the better your chances of achieving it.

M: Remember the “if you can’t measure it” mindset we talked about earlier? Choose a goal that can be distilled down into measurable elements to assess your success. Let’s attribute measurements to the goal we came up with above: “Bring in 15 new clients — specifically, eight women in transition and seven business owners — in 2020.” More than anything, measurements help you establish a clear benchmark for your goal — and once you’ve hit it, you’ve achieved it.

A: Time to ask yourself the tough questions. Is your goal realistic? Is it actually possible for you to achieve, while challenging your abilities and knowledge (in a good way, of course)? Look at it through the lens of the example above: If you want to expand your services to reach more women in transition but don’t have the resources or strategy to do so now — or in the time limit you’ve allotted to achieve your goal — then it may be best to scale back, or focus on a more attainable market while laying the groundwork to serve women in transition in future years. Be honest with yourself and understand what’s possible.

R: Results-oriented. Your goal should focus on the results you want to achieve, not the tasks or tactical activities you need to do to reach the finish line.

T: Every goal needs a deadline and a time frame — something you can work toward and, most importantly, something to hold you accountable. With a firm deadline in place and expectations set, you can avoid letting unnecessary or irrelevant tasks from getting in the way of the long-term goals that actually add value to your business.

Ready, set, goal! Give us a shout if you’d like to learn more.