A new year is always a good opportunity to turn over a new leaf or adopt new initiatives with a goal of seeing improvement.

Here are some ways you can improve the ethics environment in your practice in the coming year. With a little stick-to-itiveness, perhaps these tips will last longer than the typical New Year’s resolution!

 

Resolution #1: Develop a written code of ethics.

If your agency doesn’t have a formal code of ethics – or if the existing one hasn’t been dusted off in years – now’s the time to get cracking on establishing or updating that code.

There are plenty of already written codes you could adopt as your own, but, as the National Ethics Society suggests, writing your own code clarifies what you stand for and makes you accountable to yourself. You’ll be more likely to follow a code that is closely aligned with your beliefs.

Sure it’s fine and even a good idea to consider other codes being used in the industry. Checking out a variety of them might help you clarify and reinforce what particular values are most important to you, as well as prevent you from forgetting important aspects that may otherwise be overlooked.

 

Resolution #2: Purge your client roster of troublemakers.

Some clients are just more trouble than they’re worth. You know the type – constantly complaining about something beyond your control, making unreasonable requests, treating your staff rudely, calling with trivial questions or generally sapping you of time and energy in a way that puts the brake on productivity.

This year, resolve to jettison those problem clients and start feeling good about yourself and your profession again.

Doing so also will reduce your risk of E&O claims because working with bad clients may lead you to want to cut corners to spend less time on them, thus increasing the chances of mistakes or oversights that may result in client complaints or even lawsuits.

If you do it right – without emotion or anger – you can “resign the client” without having them threaten to sue or rip you online. Much has been written on how to effectively fire a client. A little research can go a long way toward eliminating a lot of your stress in the coming year. Just think of how much more you’ll enjoy your job with a roster that doesn’t include any bad clients!

 

Resolution #3: Get more involved in your community

Your agency may already be very involved in your community, but even if it is, striving to do still more this year could pay dividends in a variety of ways.

Partnering or volunteering with local charities or sponsoring local youth athletic teams are great ways to contribute to the well-being of your community while generating some deserved goodwill toward your agency.

Devoting resources to charitable initiatives gives some of your junior team members a chance to shine by allowing them to manage projects while also serving as a team-building exercise. It’s the classic win-win!

 

Resolution #4: Commit to raising your level of professionalism

Are you too busy to attend an industry conference or take classes toward a professional designation like a CFP, CLU or ChFC? Or do you question the ROI of doing so?

This year get past that and invest in yourself and your practice. Earning that designation or attending a conference will pay off in ways you might never have considered. You will learn things that can help you better solve problems for your clients, build relationships with independent marketing organizations, brokerage general agencies and carriers, and further establish your roots in the industry. Having attended dozens of industry conferences over the past several years, there wasn’t a single one where I didn’t meet some great people and bring home valuable insights and ideas.

Oh – and to boot, you may want to consider that in terms of productivity, The American College has found that someone with a CLU on average makes about 27% more total income than a non-CLU. If you combine a CLU with a ChFC, that jumps to 51% more. Investing in industry-specific education helps you raise your productivity because you are going to be better at what you do.

Take on any or all of these resolutions, and if you stick to them it will indeed be a Happy New Year!