Improve your process by focusing in on one thing in 2019

November 20, 2018 by Nate Oberholtzer

about the author:

Nate Oberholtzer

Account executive

Nate Oberholtzer is an account executive at Advicent, the financial planning technology provider of choice for nearly 100,000 financial professionals.

Every year the holiday season sneaks up on me and ambushes me into the reality that another year is nearing its end. While there are a number of things throughout the year that require focus and improvement, end-of-year is my favorite time to circle the wagons and cement my focus for the upcoming year.

As part of that process, there are several books that I re-read each year, but my two personal favorites are The One Thing by Gary Keller, founder of Keller Williams Realty, and The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy, founding editor of SUCCESS Magazine. They are wonderfully complementary to each other. Here are some ideas about how they translate to the advisory world and how they can help improve your firm’s process going into 2019.

Framework of Improvement

In The One Thing, Gary Keller provides an excellent look into the rapid growth of his real estate business, Keller Williams Realty, and the concept that drove it. As you may have guessed from the apt title, he attributes business success to focusing in on one thing. Instead of creating a multi-step plan designed to tackle multiple areas of weakness (which are inevitable in any organization), Keller advocates boiling problems down to their simplest form: what is the one thing that could be done to make the most improvement right now? This method of problem solving is clean, simple, and most of all, it is effective.

Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect takes the ‘one thing’ concept a step further by studying real world examples of how some of the most successful organizations in the world succeed by continuously focusing on one area to improve. This creates a snowball effect that will eventually combine to launch great success. The idea is that making that one decision to improve will become a habit and soon turn into multiple decisions and positive growth habits. In a nutshell, it takes the concept of The One Thing and applies it over time. I highly recommend you give both of these a read for yourself.

Bringing the Framework to an Advisory Practice

For any advisory firm looking to improve on its practice in 2019, there are any number of areas that could be improved. Perhaps it’s culture. Maybe it’s stagnant revenue growth. Maybe it’s getting to a deeper level of service. Whatever those areas are, applying this conceptual framework can propel your firm to success in 2019 and beyond.

Let’s break down some an example of how the process concepts of The One Thing and The Compound Effect could be implemented at an advisory practice:

What is the one thing our firm could do to improve customer service?

Many firms talk to us at Advicent because they feel a deeper level of financial planning capability is necessary to avoid losing out to competitors. Clients today are expecting more thorough and holistic financial advice from their advisors. So, let’s say the answer to the above question is that our firm should be delivering a holistic and detailed financial plan to every client. The next question becomes…

What is the one thing our firm could do to improve our financial planning process?

One possible answer to this would be to improve the annual or quarterly review process. Many advisors we talk to tell us that their time in these review meetings (if they consistently do them at all) is spent doing basic fact-finding and simple reviews of prior results. So, let’s say the answer to the above question is to make time spent in review meetings more valuable for the client. Therefore, the next question that arises is…

What is the one thing we could do to make the time spent in review meetings more valuable?

Our partners rave about the success they see from NaviPlan’s client portal in making meetings more engaging and valuable. An e-fact finder can be sent out through the portal ahead of time giving an advisor time to review the information and update the plan before the meeting itself. Instead of punching in numbers, the entirety of the review meeting is more valuable by having time to discuss a client’s aspirations for their financial future. Not only does this better serve the client, but it often results in our partners creating more selling opportunities or uncovering additional manageable assets.

As discussed in The Compound Effect, this chain of decision making narrows down issues continually, resulting in a more thorough practice. In our example, providing holistic advice allows advisors to be more competitive and increase conversion rates. As these clients’ review meetings approach, taking care of plan maintenance can be done ahead of time, resulting in more meaningful conversations that lead to longer client retention.

There are many paths to improving your firm’s process and applying the frameworks of The One Thing and The Compound Effect are a great place to start.

No matter what that path is, follow us on Twitter for valuable articles on how to improve various areas of your financial planning practice in 2019.

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