Developing your 2018 business plan


By Eric Sheikowitz & Michael Silver, Senior Managing Partners — Focus Partners, LLC

When we ask a room full of financial advisors if they have thought about business planning, most will say yes.

Ask that same group of advisors if they have actually taken the time to create a written business plan and more importantly, implement and execute it, and the majority of that room will most likely say no.

As we look back on 2017, we think that there is one thing that went right, and one thing that went wrong with regards to business planning.

What went right? More and more advisors actually took the time to put their business/marketing plan in place. This is a good thing, because at the end of the day, the advisor is the CEO of their practice. They essentially run their own “company” within the confines of the firm/office, and this presents an extraordinary opportunity. To properly take advantage of this opportunity, the smart advisor of 2017 created a business/marketing plan “GPS” that could enable them to ultimately get from where they are today, to where they want to be.

What went wrong? While there were a large number of advisors that thought about and wrote a business plan, a smaller percentage of these advisors actually took action against it. Advisors wrote the plan, but strayed from the path. This is a shame, because in our coaching practices, we have found that the top producers think, plan and document how they are going to reach their clients. They map it out, and then they take action.

For 2018, advisors need to develop a plan that they will actually use and implement against. To do this, we recommend looking at your business from three specific angles: where you are now, where you want to be, and how you will get there.

Where are you now?

  • Describe your practice as it exists today, with a focus on clients and relationships.
  • Describe your practice as it exists today, focusing on revenue and assets.
  • Ask yourself what went well this year and what could have gone better.

Where do you want to be?

  • Describe your practice in its ideal state. Don’t be afraid to dream a little!
  • Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) results-oriented goals around revenue, business development activities and new assets acquired.
  • Set softer more qualitative oriented goals around the things that support the operational and infrastructure goals for your business (Ex: onboarding process, team meetings, roles and responsibilities etc.).

How will you get there?

  • Outline the specific strategies you will employ to reach your goals. (Ex: Seminars, Client Advisory Board, Networking Groups, etc.)
  • Determine the tactics will you implement in support of the strategy. (Ex: Bi-monthly seminars on specific topics)
  • Detail the action plan that will be used to ensure each tactic gets completed (Ex: Purchase leads, develop presentation, secure venue, etc.)

Remember that most people don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan. So as you start to close out the year and get ready for 2018, take some time to plan for your success. As the great Yogi Berra once said: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.”

Eric Sheikowitz and Michael Silver are Senior Managing Partners at Focus Partners, LLC, a Practice Management and Marketing Coaching firm that specializes in helping Financial Advisors reach their fullest potential. For more information on their coaching services, contact them at 201-634-0789 or

Posted in career management, financial advisors, practice management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dr. Jack Singer: How to Become a ‘Mentally Tough’ Financial Advisor

Jack Singer has some great advice on how to toughen up mentally to build a lasting and successful practice. A Ph.D. sports psychologist, Jack began his career teaching elite athletes the blueprint for success and has since turned his attention to financial advisors and insurance producers. You can read his complete essay on How to Become a Mentally Tough Financial Advisor. Below, an excerpt:

The 7 Critical C’s of Mental Toughness. In my working with both athletes and advisors, I have found that there are 7 key elements that differentiate mentally tough athletes and advisors from those who struggle with the challenges they face. Each of these elements can be learned and through practice, can be put to use whenever you need the toughness to overcome any adversity or challenge in your work or life.

1. Maintaining a Commitment to accomplishing a task or goal through to completion, despite the obstacles that you may face.
2. Viewing Challenges as opportunities, rather than as obstacles.
3. Believing that you are in Control of your life and destiny,  rather than “outside” circumstances, beyond your control.
4. Maintaining Confidence in your ability to succeed, despite all of the challenges you face.
5. Remaining Calm in the face of stressors.
6. Remaining Consistent, in your quest to grind through adversity and succeed.
7. Being able to Concentrate and focus on the task at hand, rather than getting derailed by unexpected circumstances.

Photo: U.S. Army
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Advisors Will Feel Freer To Make Career Moves in 2018

JumpVladimirPustovitFinancial advisors weren’t in a hurry to make changes this past year. The main culprits: regulatory uncertainty and scaled back recruiting packages. But that’s all changing now. Advisors are less worried about future changes to the fiduciary rule and are more willing to join rival  firms or seek out new business models  if that makes sense for them.

Click here to read my On Wall Street article to find out why.

Photo : Vladimir Pustovit

Posted in financial advisors, Recruitment, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Not All 90% Advisor Payouts Are Created Equal

coinstaxcredits.netPayouts may appear to be almost identical but scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll find some important differences among payouts that look the same.

For example, at one major indie firm charges were 220% higher than he would have paid at a smaller boutique group — a difference of more than $8,000 per year. Both firms offered 90% payouts. Unlike grid payouts at wirehouse and regional firms, there are three components to advisor payouts at independent broker-dealers.

My Thinkadvisor article explains what those three components are and how advisors can calculate their true net payout at independent firms.

Posted in financial advisors, Recruitment, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Will Advisors Accept Restructured ‘Post’ Fiduciary Recruiting Packages?


Branch managers and recruiters at the wirehouses have an unexpected challenge this year: They need to convince financial advisers to change firms and take less in compensation than they would have received just a few months ago.

Thanks to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, recruiting packages have dropped to 250% of commissions from 300% last year. When you’re talking seven-figure deals, that’s a lot of lettuce left behind in the fields.

How is this likely to play out? Read our On Wall Street article.

Photo: Bronwyn Quillian


Posted in financial advisors, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advisors Shouldn’t Play Hard To Get When Switching Firms


For the past 30 years, the conventional wisdom has been that advisors who want the best recruiting deals should flaunt bigger offers they have from rival firms to encourage other suitors to raise their bids. But is this really always the best strategy?

Read my Research magazine piece.

Photo:Alice Carrier

Posted in financial advisors, Recruitment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Selling A Practice Isn’t Just About The Best Price

potofgoldjeremyschultz Selling a practice to the highest bidder can be an expensive and ill-advised decision. In order to get their back end earn out,  a seller must choose a buyer who can deliver a positive  client experience. Read our On Wall Street piece.

Photo: Jeremy Schultz

Posted in financial advisors, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Details On Fiduciary Standard Prompt Wirehouses To Freeze Recruiting Deals


Wirehouses have put the kibosh on their aggressive recruiting efforts, at least temporarily, as details from the newly adopted fiduciary rule dribble out.

In response to information published just before the election, major wirehouses halted the flow of offers – even withdrawing nearly done deals – to avoid even the possibility of locking horns with regulators.

What exactly happened? Read my Seeking Alpha article.

Photo: Kamil Dziedzina

Posted in financial advisors, Recruitment, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advisors Are Learning The Fiduciary Rules Impact:Watch Your Step


As 2016 draws to a close, advisers are normally preoccupied with the yearly wirehouse payout tweaking rituals. But this year is different.

All eyes are focused on how broker-dealers will respond to the new fiduciary rule adopted by the Department of Labor this year. The key question: Will broker-dealers allow advisers to avail themselves of the best interest contract exemption so they can make commission trades in retirement accounts?

So how are advisers coping with the new rules?

Read my On Wall Street article.

Photo: Aaron Goodwin

Posted in financial advisors, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Five Key Questions To Ask Before Launching An RIA


Launching an RIA can seem like a daunting task for some advisers. It’s not really just a single major business decision but a barrage of choices that are each equally important in creating a successful enterprise. It can overwhelm the underprepared.

But as with any secret sauce, it’s rarely just one ingredient that makes the difference but a combination that’s unique to each entrepreneur.

I’ve identified five fundamental questions that advisers should ask themselves before going forward with this advisory model.

Read my On Wall Street article.

Photo: Chris Hunkeler

Posted in financial advisors, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment