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Setting goals for the coming year can be quite a challenge, says Robert A. Kaiser, president of Kaiser Financial Group in Fanwood, N.J., and making sure they are formalized and written down will help. But the biggest challenge with setting goals, he continues, is the development of the action plan necessary to get you going in the right direction.

David Bryant, a registered representative with Farmers Financial Solutions in Tulsa, Okla., agrees. He has been following a goal-setting process all his life. “Most importantly, you need a roadmap on how to accomplish your goals,” he says.

For example, Bryant explains that for an agent who is looking to close 100 life cases in 2004, the task needs to be broken down systematically. “If you do 10 a month, youll hit that goal by October,” he says. Based on this number, the agent has to figure out how many appointments need to be made, how many calls need to be made and how many letters need to go out to generate that amount of business.

Most successful agents agree it is best to set attainable goals based on activity, rather than focus on revenue. “The majority of my goals are activity based,” says James Connell Jr., of Connell Financial Group, LLC, Camillus, N.Y. In the past, Connell would set revenue goals and it seldom worked for him. “If one month goes by and you dont hit the dollar amount, and then another month goes by, you lose track of why you set the goals in the first place,” he says.

Furthermore, Connell says he would start thinking about setting these goals in December, but because the end of the year was so busy he wouldnt get to it until January. As a result, by February he was already falling behind.

This year, Connell is being much more diligent, and his first short-term goal is to have all his activity goals developed and an action plan in place by the first week of January. “Thats the hardest partto actually get a plan in place,” he says.

An important element in goal setting is to make sure there is some type of reward system in place to help motivate you to reach your goals, Connell adds.

“The reward system has to be something to make meeting a short-term goal worthwhile,” he explains, “whether its taking my wife out to dinner or doing something special with the kids.”

Both Bryant and Connell agree that once your goals are set, it is extremely important to involve other people in the goal-setting process. “Ive already started to share them with my wife to get her involved,” says Connell. “Its not just something Im working on at the office, it incorporates her and my family,” he says.

“Someone with equity in me, someone with a vested interest in me has to know and share some of my goals,” adds Bryant. “It brings about accountability.”

While Bryant has a successful multiline practice, he has yet to achieve Million Dollar Round Table status with his life insurance production; this is one of his goals for 2004. In breaking down this goal, Bryant has calculated that he needs to meet with 5 households a week to talk about life insurance. Assuming one-third of those households purchase 2 policies, hell write 144 cases this year. To reach MDRT status, he needs to average $400 of commission on each case.

Connells practice is centered around specialized planning such as deferred compensation plans. One of his goals is to do more joint work this year. To do this, he is planning on calling on at least 10 new advisors each week to introduce his firm to them. Connell is looking to “lay some groundwork as to what we do and the fact that were willing to do some joint work in some areas that they may not be working in,” he says.

Bob Kaisers brokerage general agency had quite a drop in production last yearhe estimates it at 30%. This was due mostly to losing a few of his most productive brokers, including one who normally does $1 million in premium a year. His primary goal for 2004 is to replace the business he lost from these brokers by attracting new brokers as well as some larger agencies to do business with him. Kaiser is looking to increase his firms production by 20%.

“Weve started this already,” he says, explaining he has identified a number of specific brokers and brokerage agencies that hes going after. “Weve had several lunches with them, we want to do some in-house meetings with them and we want to provide them with some CE courses for their agents,” he says.

Daniel Childress, president of Financial Management Group Inc., Mt. Pleasant, S.C., is setting his goal for 2004 as a 30% increase over 2003 production levels. But, rather than recruiting more agents to bring in additional business, Childress is looking to focus on enhancing his “core marketing arrangement, which is providing financial services to other allied professional organizations,” he says.

Childress business model is set up to work with other financial services organizations, such as property-casualty firms, and bring his firms personnel and expertise to those producers. His firm then helps these producers work with their clients on their financial planning.

“Its active marketing, where we go in and work directly with their producers on their client baseproviding services under their corporate identity,” he says.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, January 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.