10 Things to Kick Off a Successful Year: Key Areas For Financial Advisors to Focus on in 2024
In “10 Things to Kick Off a Successful Year: Key Areas For Financial Advisors to Focus on in 2024,” financial advisors are offered a strategic roadmap for the upcoming year.
Written by Tom Mergan, Vice President of Annuity Sales
In “10 Things to Kick Off a Successful Year: Key Areas For Financial Advisors to Focus on in 2024,” financial advisors are offered a strategic roadmap for the upcoming year. Tom highlights key areas for your attention, including setting dynamic business goals such as increasing production and diversifying services. Advisors are encouraged to craft comprehensive marketing plans with specific dates to drive lead generation. Building professional relationships with referral sources is also emphasized as a means to widen influence and provide valuable guidance. The importance of implementing metrics and tracking systems is underscored for effective progress monitoring. Additionally, advisors are advised to embrace automation, delegate non-core tasks, and invest in continuous self-development, ensuring a solid foundation for success in 2024.
#1: Set Goals for Your Business
A business plan is more than a static document—it's a dynamic guide for daily operations. It’s an evolving roadmap for daily business operations that meticulously aligns your objectives, providing a clear, structured path to follow daily.
Here are a few objectives to weave into your plan:
- Create a benchmark. Learn from industry leaders, identify winning practices and seamlessly integrate them into your own game plan.
- Set ambitious goals for enhancing both client assets and your personal productivity. Aim for an average increase of around 20% in production or advisory assets. Simultaneously, focus on attracting high-net-worth and mass-affluent clients, setting a specific objective to acquire X number of new clients.
- Use tech to your advantage. Identify new technologies that streamline operations, freeing your time for what truly matters.
- Streamline your processes. Choose one area to refine (don’t overwhelm yourself with taking on too much at once). Optimize that aspect of your business, setting a precedent for continuous improvement.
- Define your A-list clients. Invest in deeper relationships, fostering trust and long-term loyalty.
- Build generational ties. Proactively cultivate connections with heirs, laying the foundation for lasting partnerships and continual referrals. Pick four families this year to foster.
- Diversify your business. Explore diverse revenue streams like annuities, life insurance, disability insurance, and estate planning. Offer holistic solutions that set you apart.
- Build your network. Collaborate with other professionals in a complementary industry, like accountants, attorneys, and mortgage brokers. Synergize your services for a comprehensive offering that benefits your clients.
- Identify areas to help your business scale. Consider ideas that help you make the most of your expertise, like expanding your team and hiring administrative or sales support.
💡 Quick tip: Quick tip: Seek input from your peers at CreativeOne, CreativeOne Wealth, and CreativeOne Securities, to help build and refine your plan.
#2 Craft a Comprehensive Marketing Plan
To kick-start the year successfully, financial advisors should prioritize the development of a robust marketing plan. This plan shouldn't merely focus on advertising; it should encompass broader initiatives and the cultivation of client relationships. For those in growth and new-asset-acquisition mode, incorporate various lead-generation activities, such as seminars, workshops, online advertising, email marketing, and partnerships with local businesses. Crucially, set specific dates and hold yourself (and team) accountable. The primary reason advisors miss their goals is letting dates slip without a formalized plan. This is the number-one reason advisors miss their goals: letting dates slip and not having a formalized plan in place. Commitment to a plan, being consistent, and flawless execution constitutes 70% of advisors say this is very important to their firm’s success.1
Areas to focus on:
- The number-one thing you can do: meet with our account management team to build a marketing plan to hit your business objectives.
- Develop messaging for your clients and prospects. Have a plan to talk to them differently and work toward appointments. Ask about our done-for-you EngageOne program to cultivate deeper relationships with clients and nurture hard-earned prospects who haven’t converted.
- Leverage a CRM to designate clients vs prospects for easy recognition.
- Lead generation. Develop a plan for events, including seminars and webinars, and determine your growth for the year and back this into your seminars plan. Work with our team to get a strategic plan in place for the entire year so you have a steady influx of new leads to build your pipeline.
#3: Build a Center of Influence.
Leveraging expert advice and their extensive networks can substantially enhance your practice. Actively forging connections with individuals capable of offering referrals opens doors to widen your influence and establish more robust professional relationships. These relationships can also be a great source to provide guidance. Everyone wants to help others—it’s in our nature. By building camaraderie, you’re building a who’s who sphere and expanding your professional network. As you consider allies, be sure to include public accountants and attorneys, but don’t overlook others who have access to prospects in your target market.
Building symbiotic relationship with like-minded professionals can substantially enhance your practice.
- Public accountants.
- Real estate agents.
- Human resources professionals.
- Business attorneys.
- Health care professionals.
- Business owners with access: golf club owner, spa owner.
- Divorce attorneys.
- Personal fitness coaches.
Not only can this help build stronger relationships, it will increase your referrals. A financial plan should consider all aspects of an individual’s finances, so by ensuring every aspect of their plan is in harmony, you are helping increase your value to the client.
💡 Quick tip: When engaging with your Centers of Influence (COIs), such as CPAs or attorneys, employ strategic conversations to encourage referrals.
Begin by focusing on mutual benefits: "I've noticed when you assist business owners, you often uncover challenges that intersect with my expertise. Let's work together to bring them comprehensive solutions." Then, incorporate a memorable hook: "For instance, keep me in mind when you encounter business owners struggling with succession planning. My approach has successfully navigated others through similar challenges by implementing targeted strategies for a smooth transition." This method isn't limited to one type of client; apply it whenever you identify a synergy between the services you provide and the needs of the COI's clientele, whether they're high-net-worth individuals, corporate executives, or recent divorcees. Remember, a successful referral is a win for all—your COI, their client, and you.
#4: Define Metrics and Implement a Tracking System
Metrics are the lifeblood of goal setting, providing the means to track progress and make informed decisions. Avoid tracking too many metrics initially and focus on those driving practice growth and revenue. Examples include outbound reaches, in-office or virtual appointments, and the number of new clients or events hosted. Utilize your CRM system to meticulously track and analyze data, ensuring a data-driven approach to decision-making.
Practice metrics to closely track:
- Daily and weekly outbound calls.
- Weekly or monthly new-client discovery and fact-finding sessions.
- Frequency of proposal delivery meetings per week or month.
- Monthly or quarterly new-client acquisition rate.
- Close rate of appointments successfully converting to new clients.
- Revenue generated per client household, contributing to the practice's overall earnings.
Marketing key performance indicators:
- Customer-acquisition cost: How much money it takes to convert a lead to a client.
- Traffic sources: Understand where most of your website traffic originates and reveal effectiveness.
- Engagement: Post-performance indicates your market’s appetite for the type of content and medium.
- Open rates: Indicates the percentage of emails opened versus sent.
- Email click-through rate: rate at which emails are opened and then clicked.
- Return on ad spend: measures the revenue generated relative to every dollar spent.
#5: Delegate or Outsource Non-Core Tasks.
Delegating allows advisors to concentrate on high-impact activities, like client relationship building and strategic planning, while administrative and routine tasks are efficiently handled by others.
Devote time to refining business processes, ensuring a seamless and positive client experience that spans from the initial interaction to the culmination of their journey. Efficiency is further heightened by decluttering your schedule from distractions and non-essential responsibilities. Utilize our Great Firms Won’t Let Advisors Do This cheat sheet to discern priority tasks and judiciously delegate or outsource areas such as account management, business development, operations, marketing, administrative tasks, and facilities.
Tasks commonly delegated or outsourced by successful advisors include:
- Bookkeeping and accounting.
- Web development.
- Copywriting and blogging (don’t be afraid of using AI).
- Human resources and compliance.
- Responding to routine emails.
Embrace the flexibility of outsourcing to independent contractors or external firms, while retaining in-house capabilities for specific tasks. As your business expands, consider the strategic addition of an assistant to adeptly manage non-core responsibilities, ensuring your focus remains steadfast on strategic and value-driven activities.
#6: Strengthen Your Web Presence.
Building a strong website is essential to establish thought leadership and generate organic leads. As you look at your resources, determine if your site has a clear purpose that aligns with your target market. Ensure the design is simple, user-friendly and facilitates easy navigation. Prioritize mobile responsiveness to reach a broader audience and include compelling visuals like images and videos to enhance your brand presence. Ensure your site includes quality, relevant content that showcases your expertise and establishes you as a thought leader in your target market.
Your website should include:
- User-Friendliness: Does your website have a user-friendly design? Opt for a user-friendly layout to enhance navigation and engagement.
- Clear Call to Actions: Does your site have a clear call to action to drive your audience to take action?
- Emphasis on local search: Can you find your business online? If not, claim your local digital assets.
- Mobile Responsiveness: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly for broader reach.
- Compelling Visuals: Use engaging visuals like images and videos to enhance your brand.
- High-Quality Content: Showcase your expertise with relevant and high-quality content.
- Social Media Integration: Include social media links for increased sharing and interaction.
- Fresh, Meaningful Content: Keep your content fresh and relevant to reflect your evolving insights.
In addition, ensure fresh website content to drive web visitors. Regularly updated and relevant content is paramount for your website’s SEO success. Google's algorithms prioritize fresh material, leading to improved search engine rankings and increased visibility in search results. Consistent updates also open doors to target new keywords, particularly long-tail ones, enhancing the site's chances of attracting traffic. User engagement and retention benefit from interesting content, reducing bounce rates and improving overall experience, factors that Google Analytics tracks. Social media sharing of up-to-date content contributes to social signals, indirectly impacting search engine rankings. The frequent indexing of regularly updated sites is facilitated by Google's crawlers, and adaptation to algorithm changes is crucial for long-term relevance.
💡 Quick tip: If your website hasn't been updated for more than three years, it's advisable to initiate a comprehensive refresh.
Security Measures: Implement SSL certificates for a secure online environment and to build trust with potential clients. Fresh website content drives web visitors! Regularly updated and relevant content is paramount for your website’s SEO success. Google's algorithms prioritize fresh material, leading to improved search engine rankings and increased visibility in search results. Consistent updates also open doors to target new keywords, particularly long-tail ones, enhancing the site's chances of attracting traffic. User engagement and retention benefit from interesting content, reducing bounce rates and improving overall experience, factors that Google Analytics tracks. Social media sharing of up-to-date content contributes to social signals, indirectly impacting search engine rankings. The frequent indexing of regularly updated sites is facilitated by Google's crawlers, and adaptation to algorithm changes is crucial for long-term relevance.
#7: Embrace Automation for Efficiency
Invest in time-saving tools to leverage automation and gain efficiency.Automation provides a daily track, minimizes errors, lowers insurance premiums, and increases your business's value. Most importantly, it liberates time for prospecting, selling, and serving clients.
Technology: Calendly & Microsoft Bookings
Calendly and Bookings are an excellent tool for automating the scheduling of client appointments. It allows advisors to set their availability, share a personalized link with clients, and lets clients book appointments at mutually convenient times. This eliminates the need for back-and-forth communication and ensures efficient scheduling.
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
Technology: Wealthbox, RedTail, Salesforce, etc.
Utilize CRM platforms to automate client communication, manage contact information, and track interactions. These platforms enable financial advisors to streamline client onboarding, track client interactions, and automate follow-up emails, ensuring that no important client touchpoints are missed. Utilize your CRM to create repeatable workflows to automate team tasks. Use these expedite client paperwork and response times. It will enhance the efficiency of daily entry, as well as ensure the CRM is your true source for client information.
Document Management and E-Signatures
Technology: DocuSign, Laser App & Adobe Sign
Streamline processes by automating document workflows, reduce manual paperwork, and speed up the new client onboarding process. E-applications enhance efficiency, provide electronic signatures, and a seamless digital experience for both you, your staff, and clients. It also avoids delays with scheduling conflicts or snail mail. It’s easy to say, “I’ll send this over right now, and we can walk through it to sign the document.” It eliminates barriers to close new business. Implementing e-signature solutions automates the document approval process, allowing advisors to securely send, sign, and manage important documents electronically. This reduces paperwork, accelerates workflows, and enhances the client experience.
Technology: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Keap and CreativeOne’s Engage One Program in partnership with Snappy Kraken
Email marketing platforms automate the creation and distribution of newsletters, updates, and other communications. Advisors can use these tools to nurture client relationships, share relevant content, and stay top-of-mind with clients.
#8: Design and Pursue a “Perfect Day” Strategy.
Craft a hyper-focused and disciplined “Perfect Day” strategy for optimal revenue production. Consider activities such as outbound calls, walk-in introductions, in-person or virtual appointments, client meetings, and networking events.
Perfect days can come in many fashions, here are a few ways to share in quicks successes:
- 40 phone calls, emails, or text messages to prospects.
- 10 walk-in introductions at area businesses.
- Four in person appointments per day.
- Five virtual appointments per day.
- One meeting or annual review with existing client.
- One industry or networking event.
#9: Average Three Booked Appointments Daily.
As a financial advisor, maintaining a consistent flow of appointments is crucial. Aiming for three quality appointments per day over the course of the working week can help ensure continuous growth. Especially in the earlier stages of your practice, striving to meet this threshold helps lay down the infrastructure for both immediate traction and long-term success.
For existing clients, these interactions are not mere meetings; they are opportunities to deepen client relationships, help them understand the evolving financial landscapes, and deliver ongoing, tailored solutions that resonate with client goals.
💡 Quick tip: By deepening your client relationships, and delivering exceptional service, you can leverage these relationships to help generate additional referral opportunities in the future and build a multi-generational plan.
Embrace a cadence of consistent appointments, and you'll find your business not only growing but thriving on the principles of trust and personal attention that clients value.
Weekly appointments could look something like this:
- Initial discovery sessions with new clients.
- Financial planning.
- Tax return reviews.
- Investment and risk tolerance reviews.
- Retirement planning.
- Annual or bi-annual reviews for A clients.
- Generational meet-and-greets with client’s heirs.
💡 Quick tip: Never eat alone. Leveraging lunchtime as a networking opportunity can enhance your referral pipeline. For financial advisors, these informal midday engagements are powerful tools to build relationships.
Invite existing clients, potential prospects, or valuable contacts within your network to join you. The relaxed atmosphere of a shared meal can foster deeper conversations, allowing you to gain insights into your clients' evolving needs and goals. It also positions you to gently remind them of your breadth of services in a non-sales environment. These connections are not just about enjoying a meal; they're an investment in your practice's growth. They serve as a reminder to your clients and colleagues that you are more than their advisor — you are a partner in their financial journey. When they encounter someone in need of financial guidance, your name will be at the forefront of their minds, ready for a referral.
#10: Cultivate a Video Presence.
Transform your brand's image and amplify referral potential through the strategic incorporation of engaging video content. While video undeniably serves as a valuable asset for enhancing your online presence on websites and social media, its impact goes far beyond the superficial. By consistently creating and sharing video content, you not only provide valuable information but also craft shareable moments that foster relatability among your clients.
💡 Quick tip: Deliberate use of video not only humanizes your brand but also plays a pivotal role in establishing thought leadership within your target market.
Through these visual narratives, you communicate authenticity and transparency, building a strong foundation of trust with your audience. The simplicity of setups, such as using your phone or webcam in the comfort of your office, makes video content creation accessible, allowing you to consistently connect with your audience.
Five Video Tips:
- Authenticity: Ensure your video reflects your genuine self; authenticity builds trust and connection with your audience, so be true to your personality and style.
- Lighting: Position yourself in well-lit surroundings to enhance video quality; natural light is ideal, but if indoors, use soft, diffused lighting to minimize harsh shadows and present a clear, visually appealing image
- Quiet/Sound: Record in a quiet environment to capture clear audio; minimize background noise and consider using an external microphone to enhance the sound quality, ensuring your message is free from distractions.
- Stable Camera Setup: Avoid shaky footage by using a stable camera setup, whether using a tripod or a stable surface, this ensures a professional and polished look to your video presentation.
- Background Consideration: Choose a background that complements your message and avoids distractions; a clutter-free and visually appealing backdrop helps maintain focus on you and your content, enhancing the overall viewer experience.
Platforms to distribute your videos:
- YouTube: Establish a branded YouTube channel to host your videos. Optimize video titles, descriptions, and tags for search engine visibility.
- LinkedIn: Share shorter, professionally-focused videos on your LinkedIn profile. Leverage LinkedIn's professional network to connect with potential clients.
- Instagram: Use IGTV for longer, in-depth financial discussions. Create short, engaging snippets for your Instagram feed to attract a wider audience.
- Website: Embed videos on your website for easy access and engagement. Develop a video series to keep viewers coming back for more; set up a unique page to create a video library.
- Webinars: Host live video webinars for interactive Q&A sessions. Repurpose webinar content for on-demand viewing.
Here are great types of videos and topics that may be a great way to start:
- Introduction video—what challenges does your practice solve and who you are.
- Pre-appointment video—what to expect in a first meeting.
- Post-meeting appointment—recap/thanks.
- Birthday or holiday to clients.
- Testimonials (pending licenses/states)
Key content could include:
- Retirement questions that have nothing to do with money.
- Investing during inflated times, i.e., tips.
- Preventing identity theft.
- What is extended care?
- Preparing for a loss of a spouse.
- Managing money as a couple (tips).
- What does retire on time mean for me?
- Integrating your employer benefits into your financial plan.
- What should I know about long-term care, how do I protect mom and dad?
- How to conduct due diligence with charitable causes?
- How can you maximize charitable giving?
- Timely, relevant content to help inform clients (election year, tax changes, market volatility).
We’re saving the best for last: you. Here’s our bonus tip to kick-start the year:
#11 Investing in Continuous Self-Development.
The best early-career investments are in education and self-development. Prioritize both hard and soft skills, including sales training, listening, networking, and storytelling. These skills pay dividends across industries and contribute to long-term success.
💡 Quick tip: Balance certifications and software testing with consistent prospecting and selling efforts.
- Life Insurance License.
- Investment Adviser Representative License (Series65).
- Certified Tax Specialist (CTS).
- Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®).
- Certified Exit Planner for business owners (CExP).
- National Social Security Advisor (NSSA).
- Certified Medicare Insurance Provider (CMIP).
- Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®).
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®).
- Personal Financial Specialist (PFS).
- Certified Financial Fiduciary® (CFF).
By delving into these key areas with detailed strategies and execution plans, financial advisors can lay the foundation for a successful and prosperous year. Each step is not just a task, but an opportunity for growth, client engagement, and personal development.
Ready to kick off the year with a bang? Reach out to theCreativeOne team and take the first step to solidify your plan for success.