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Practice Management > Building Your Business

32 goals for insurance advisors in 2016

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As many times as you have urged your clients to set goals for themselves, as frequently as you have goaded them to make a bucket list and a plan for pursuing the items on it, how often have you actually practiced what you preached?

Whether or not you buy into New Year’s resolution-making, as a financial or insurance professional, you know the value of articulating and setting goals. So, with the New Year looming, the question must be asked: 

What’s on your personal & professional 2016 bucket list?

We posed that question to folks in the advisory community, and from the practical to the pie-in-the-sky, they shared with us the goals, passions and milestones they’re intent on pursuing next year and beyond. So, what’s on your list?

On the next pages, your fellow advisors offer a glimpse at theirs:

Practice development & strategy

Add to my team one or two likeminded advisors with an existing book of business:

“I have reached about as far as I can alone in growing my top and bottom line. A new advisor will not only bring new assets and cost-compression, but also can serve as a great sounding board and a resource for discussing client needs.”

Rich A. Schuette, CFP from Avalan Wealth Management, Santa Barbara, California.

Identify a firm to acquire:

“The [possibility of making an] acquisition is exciting because it creates a triple win! I believe we have the best firm available (while still leaving room for improvement) and when such an acquisition is done correctly:

• Clients win with better service than a solo could provide.

• The seller of the practice wins because they can move on to the next phase of their life confident that their clients are being served extremely well.

• We win because we can more fully utilize the system we’ve built and enjoy the revenues that come with that utilization.”

- Jim Beverley, CLU, ChFC, CFP from Partners Wealth Management, Naperville, Illinois.

Develop and implement an optimistic, proactive marketing plan:

“The goal is not to rely on the kindnesses of our clients to provide referrals, but to take command of the situation in order to open up new markets and territories. We do work with a business coach and really, this does mean accountability. Otherwise, it’s easy to slough off, as we’re doing fine now but underachieving.”

- Howard Erman, CFP, EA from Erman Retirement Advisory, Seal Beach, California.


Find a successor to sustain my practice:

“I am working closely with my broker-dealer to find a succession partner to take over my business when I step down. They have to be of the same basic mindset as I, in that they agree that professional money management is best for most clients. They have to be younger than I. They have to have their own book of business, though it can be smaller than mine.”

- Jon L. Ten Haagen, CFP from Ten Haagen Wealth Management, Northport, New York.

Provide myself plenty of time to develop a succession plan for my practice:

“My succession plan is working very well because we’ve taken four years to implement it. We started talking about succession and preparing clients mentally for it by having one of our successors in each client meeting for the past few years to develop their relationship. Also, I am not really gone!

I still work part-time for my successors and my former partner. I’m seldom at the office, but I still make a point to answer client emails promptly from home. I still meet with clients of my/their choosing, and I still write the firm newsletter and email blasts, so clients still feel connected to me.”

- June Schroeder, CFP, RN from Liberty Financial Group, Elm Grove, Wisconsin.

Professional habits

“Live and work by the TIME acronym:


For technology: Embrace a piece of technology that I am not currently using in order to better manage practice or clients.


For improvement: Identify three reasons why I wouldn’t do business with myself and then take action to change that.


For motivation: Motivate three or more centers of influence to make me their first choice when it comes to referrals.


For engagement: Find one new way (outside what I’m already doing) to connect with the community for reasons other than business development.”

- Jillian C. Nel CFP, CDFA from Legacy Asset Management, Houston, Texas.

“1) Make presentations at two colleges or universities to help recruit women to the financial/insurance advisory industry.

2) Mentor two young female advisors to help them build their practice and visibility within their firm and within the industry.”

- Heather Ettinger from Fairport Asset Management, Cleveland, Ohio.

Take photos of everything in the office:


“I mean everything, so you see the detail of items. My offices were gutted by fire in May 2015 and we are still rebuilding the business. We should be back in the original (totally rebuilt) office space by February or March of 2016. I am taking so much time trying to remember everything that was in my office before the fire. Without the photos, (which are also good proof of ownership) you have to remember, and that’s tough.”

- Jon L. Ten Haagen.

financial advisor

Work-life balance

Get a financial advisor!

“Yes, I have one myself — and it’s not someone from my own firm. Having a financial advisor from outside my firm has proven to be a great help, providing different perspectives and allowing my husband to feel more a part of the process than he would if my firm were doing the planning for us. Common wisdom advises against being your own lawyer. The same holds true for our profession: Don’t be your own financial advisor.”

- June Schroeder.

Work an hour for yourself each day:

“We want to get more done and be better at what we do: be a better parent, spouse, child, boss, employee, whatever. I get up an hour early and work for me. By ‘work for me’ I mean ‘work on me.’ I’ll read a book, or write a note to my wife or kids. Sometimes I read business stuff, other times, novels or junk. Sometimes, I write in my journal and journal some gratitude. Early in the morning, its quiet, no noise, dog at my feet, fresh cup of coffee. No e-mails, no TV. What would happen if you worked 365 hours a year on yourself?”

- Leon LaBrecque, JD, CPA, CFP, CFA from LJPR Financial Advisors, Troy, Michigan.

Keep a daily gratitude journal:

“Make a habit of identifying (and documenting in the journal) three things you are grateful for each day. I think if you do nothing else, there is great value in taking the time to reflect on all you have to be grateful for from that day and documenting it.

The habit of daily gratitude is transformative in how you view the world. The past year has been full of several meaningful changes for me, so I’ve enjoyed taking the time to read through my journal as a way to document the journey.”

- Bethany M. Griffith, CFP from Abacus Planning Group, Columbia, South Carolina.

Learn to say “no” sometimes:

“One thing I learned about my own semi-retirement is that I got too busy too fast! I suggest that recently retired or soon-to-retire advisors choose their commitments wisely and don’t overextend themselves. We urge our clients to make a bucket list and start a hobby before they retire so they won’t get bored after. I have found very few bored retirees (there are some) and many more are so busy they don’t have time to smell the roses!”   

- June Schroeder.


“1) Win more sailboat races next year— more trophies to put dip and chips in.

2) Get more chapters done on my book and maybe even finish it.

3) Finally act on my #1 bucket list item: visit the Galapagos Islands in 2016.”

- Jon L. Ten Haagen.


Go on a yoga or Ayurveda retreat:

“Ayurveda is a form of complementary or alternative medicine that originated in India. My reasons are personal. I studied East Asian language and literature along with finance.

I appreciate the contrasts that Asia has to offer (tranquility of the holy sites versus the frenetic energy of large cities), modern versus tradition, etc.” 

- Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP from Blue Ocean Global Wealth, Rockville, Maryland.


“Release” at least 29 pounds from my current weight so I can golf better next summer:

“I say ‘release’ because I don’t want to ‘lose’ that weight, which implies that I’ll ‘find’ it again. I want to ‘release’ that weight and be free to move more easily.”

- Jim Beverley.

client birthday

Client work

Schedule client annual reviews for their half-birthdays:

“Why the client’s half-birthday? For one, the IRS has rules that apply to half-birthdays (accessing funds at 59-and-a-half, taking required minimum distributions at 70-and-a-half). Also, clients tend to be busy on their real birthday, so use the half-birthday to get some important stuff done, like checking asset allocation, revisiting the adequacy of insurance coverage (homeowners, auto, life, etc.), updating beneficiary designations, and reviewing the tax plan for the year ahead.”

- Leon LaBrecque.


As most advisors are over age 57 (or so), figuring a way to take care of our clients after we step back from our active planning careers is a key goal:

“Who will we trust to care for clients in any kind of similar way as we have? My job in 2016 is to finalize a succession plan with a younger advisor who I know will manage these assets and these clients in a way that not only will take care of them, but their children and grandchildren also. In our practice, we’re actually acquiring a smaller practice this year and have to find a way to care for those new clients also.”

- Howard Erman, CFP, EA from Erman Retirement Advisory, Seal Beach, California.               

And More…

Lacking ideas for your bucket list?

Try these:

    • Work with a business coach

    • Make a concerted push into a new market or niche

    • Find a more sustainable work-life balance or blend

    • Transition to a fee-based model

    • Make yourself a go-to media subject-matter expert

    • Earn a new designation or certification

    • Find a better broker-dealer

    • Open an office in Maui

    • Explore social media as a marketing, networking tool

    • Join a philanthropic organization

    • Take your practice independent

    • Get a better CRM

    • Revamp your website

    • Become a better presenter/public speaker

    • Take on pro-bono advisory work

See also:

Advisors: Is writing a book on your bucket list?

Here’s a 7-point plan to step up your social media game


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