Guest Post: How Financial Advisors Can Gain Traction Through Focus and Clarity

By Beyond AUM

You are in control of your business — surprise!

This is the biggest secret that every financial advisory firm leader should know. Believe it or not, you have the power to choose which clients you serve, how to serve them, and when you serve them.

As your business evolves and grows, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not in control of what happens next. But with the right foundation in place, you can effectively steer your firm to the next phase of its growth trajectory and create your own vision for long-term success.

So, what makes up a solid firm foundation? It starts with creating traction through clear, focused strategic planning. We explore the key components of this exercise below.

Step 1: Know Who You Are

Your chances for future success are far higher if you narrow your focus, instead of casting a wide net for any prospect or client who comes through the door. This starts with defining your financial advisory business through:

– Detailed “personas” that accurately describe who your clients are and the challenges they face.

– A unique value proposition that succinctly summarizes who you are, as a business, and what you do best.

– A purpose and mission statement that describes your “why” and sketches out your path forward.

This exercise takes guts — it requires you to draw a line in the sand and proclaim who you are to your clients, your industry, and the world. Your proclamation will position your firm as a market leader or as just another advisory firm. And the same goes for your unique value proposition, which should be as specific as possible. Take a look at the difference between these two, sample value propositions:

1. XYZ Firm’s mission is to provide financial planning services to as many people as possible.

2. ABC Firm provides comprehensive financial planning services to business owners and C-suite executives, with the goal of empowering their families with tools and resources to thrive financially and meaningfully contribute to their communities.

Which proposition sounds more appealing to you? We’re willing to bet it is Option 2 — it clearly states what ABC Firm provides and to whom, and the specific goals the firm’s services will help clients reach. Think about the impact you want your firm to have on clients’ lives, and make sure that is clearly stated in your value proposition.

These fundamentals will help you build the second piece of your firm’s foundation, which is:

Step 2: Know Who You Want to Serve

As much as you would like to share your services with the world, you have a much better chance of capturing market-share in a defined segment. Remember, you get to choose who you want to serve — but don’t forget to identify opportunities that are realistically available and assess your service as it relates to those opportunities. When you zero in on your market (you took the first step in this process when you defined your personas), you can more easily shape your service offering to add the most value to your prospective clients.

When you choose your market and focus on it intently, you can create a clear and compelling brand that demonstrates your value, as a financial advisor, while positioning yourself as a subject matter expert.

Once you’ve defined the prospects and clients you want to focus on, the clouds will clear, and your messaging, services, and internal operations will quickly gain traction. And of course, one of the biggest benefits of doing this legwork is clarity — for both you and your clients. Moving forward, you’ll feel confident knowing that everyone is on the same page about who you serve, what you provide, and why.

The End Result

When we founded Beyond AUM, we developed a clear value proposition of our own:

Beyond AUM works with financial advisors to accelerate their success in areas that drive growth and profitability. We strive to increase the value of the business beyond the AUM number.

Every decision we make as an agency is based on that value proposition; it enables us to focus on what matters most to our clients and our business, and it allows us to break through the noise of the newest fad or products. This takes courage in a landscape of constant distractions.

Being focused on a defined value proposition and segments of the market doesn’t mean you have to be rigid. Once you know your value and your clients, it’ll be easier for you to set your path for the future — whether that is one, five, or 10 years out. When it comes to setting and planning goals, we always encourage our clients to take one impactful step at a time.

As you head into 2021, start by articulating your “moonshot” — your homerun dreams for your business — as well as the more attainable goals you’d like to achieve in the short term. Document those plans and make sure your entire firm (not just your board and leadership team) understands them and knows how they play a role in achieving them.

Here’s an example for your reference:

– In 10 years, our financial advisory firm will reach 10x in revenue, have an X% profitability margin, and will be valued at $X.

– In three years, our financial advisory firm will reach 5x in revenue. Our team will have grown by X number of advisors and X number of operations team members. We will be managing X number of households with an average of $X in investable assets, and we will have an X% profitability margin.

– Next year, we will take the first step in achieving our three- and 10-year goals by focusing on our top three firm objectives. (Read more about how to do this in our blog on goal-setting.)

This work — goal-setting, defining your personas, creating your value proposition — can feel a bit cumbersome at times, because the impact of your efforts isn’t immediate. But taking the time to create clarity and focus for the future will allow you to bring your best self to today’s work and live with intention.

In addition to providing marketing and technology solutions, Beyond AUM specializes in helping advisors set the stage for long-term, strategic growth. Want to start building your growth strategy? Contact our team today.

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