November 22, 2011

Practice Management Primer, Pt. 7: Putting the Model Into Action




In the previous post of our seven-part series on practice management, which we’re calling the ActiFi Practice Management Primer, we covered how to benchmark your firm against your peers. In this, our final blog in the series, we focus on execution.

In the past six Practice Management Primer posts we shared an approach to translating your most important business goals into specific actions.  This series of blogs has been  broken into five segments, which you can focus on one at a time. The aim has been to help you envision how you can apply these principles and practices to your business in a practical manner. Lofty goals and ambitions are good, but without a clear path towards achievement, those goals and ambitions might well be left in the realm of what “could be.” 

Now that you’re familiar with the concepts, it’s time to execute. As you do so, it’s important to have a broad view of the financial services industry’s macro-trends, which include: 

  • A changing regulatory environment, which can put an increased burden on advisors and the financial institutions that serve them.
  • An aging advisor population and increasing need for an effective succession planning.
  • Pricing pressures and a need for increased transparency. 

All of these trends point to one solution: running a more efficient and effective business. The process of improving your practice should be done with that in mind. This process can be an enlightening one for many advisors.  Having worked with many firms going through this process, we’ve found that the skill set required to be a great advisor is distinctly different from the skill set necessary to run a great business. 

At the beginning of this series, we defined practice management as “A set of optimized services and solutions that enable advisors to achieve their most important business objectives.”  That definition informs all of the subsequent steps in the process:

  • Assessing your practice and setting goals;
  • Translating goals into actionable tasks;
  • Ensuring that tasks are assigned to the right people;
  • Measuring results
  • Evaluating effectiveness and benchmarking against your peers. 

As we’ve helped firms complete this process, we’ve repeatedly seen a variety of benefits.  First, there’s an increased clarity of purpose. With

more clarity, better communication can develop, and when everyone’s on the same page, it fosters excitement about the firm’s future.    

A second benefit is better goal achievement. When your business is seeing better results, it’s simultaneously becoming more profitable and its value grows.  Another benefit: it helps develop your team.  By becoming less dependent on any one employee, the overall skill set of the team becomes better developed.  Everyone steps up their game, and as a result, your business performs better 

The most important takeaway from this series is how taking a thoughtful approach to achieving your most important business goals will yield better and more consistent results than simply stating the goals without following a disciplined approach.   

Getting started on the road to better practice management is simple. Begin with step one: asking yourself what matters most to you, and what your goals are for your business. Let that idea be your touchstone as you go through the process, following the road map we’ve laid out for you. 

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