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5 Assignments to Help Your Financial Advisory Firm Prepare for 2016

Setting Goals

This time of year is always a perfect time to gather with friends and family, indulge in scrumptious holiday treats, and spend some time in meaningful reflection. It’s also a time to look ahead, for yourself and your firm.

In our coaching experience through the years, December is an opportunity for you to plot the course for the future of your practice.

There are many key areas that need your attention. We put together a year-end checklist, with templates you should download, to help you plan for intentional success and stay on track.


I’m a big advocate of setting goals because they inspire, stretch, engage, and provide purpose to an organization.

Setting goals provides you with long-term vision, short-term motivation, and a means to identify what is important. It helps you organize your time and resources so that you can be more productive and develop new skills required to achieve each goal.

Ensure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time based.


Identify specific goals by answering the following questions:

  • Who is involved?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where will the goal process take place?
  • When will the goal start and end?
  • Which requirements are needed to complete the goal and which challenges may occur?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal? (purpose and benefits of accomplishment)

By establishing a specific goal rather than a general goal, you create a bond with your goal. The goal now embodies meaning, challenge, and reward along with a much greater chance of accomplishment.


Create a measurement system for your goal by establishing periodic checkpoints to measure progress toward reaching each goal you set. Measuring progress helps you stay on track by meeting deadlines and target dates. Ask yourself questions to identify your progress such as: How much?, How many?, and How will I know when my goal is accomplished?


Attainable goals are reached when you link importance and achievement together. After identifying your most important goals and the success of achieving each goal, you will find ways to develop the attitude, skills, and ability to reach them. By instilling these characteristics you will create a new vision and desire to attain goals previously overlooked.


Shooting for the moon can be realistic as long as you make a commitment to reach your goal. Making a commitment leaves no room for excuses. Identify a realistic goal by asking yourself: “What conditions need to be present for me to attain this goal?”


“Sometime” and “someday” will not allow you to reach your goal. Solidify your goal planning by establishing a time frame with specific dates. I like to use a timeline with each of my goals which also aides in progress measurement.

Your Assignment:

Download Ironstone’s Goal Planning Poster to start setting, assigning, and tracking your goals. Creating the ability to see your goals and visualize the progress provides increased engagement, productivity, and improves team morale.

“Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it.” – Brian Tracy


All too often marketing is overlooked, put on the back burner, or is assigned to someone who has extra time. These scenarios are detrimental to any company. Marketing plans are essential to provide direction towards your goals and firm growth. Without growth and a plan to get there, your firm is at risk to silently fade away.

Advisors face common challenges when it comes to marketing. Many cite that time, talent, and the implementation of written plans are their top concerns. These elements are critical to your long-term success and the absence of any component reduces your marketing efforts significantly.  In addition, marketers need to develop and implement strategies to address communal growth dilemmas facing advisors to overcome investor perception.

Your Assignment:

Download the Essential Guide to Financial Advisor Marketing to help you identify marketing components that are vital to a successful marketing plan. The guide includes goal planning worksheets, marketing calendar template, and worksheets to monitor your results.


To attract ideal clients, you must first define who your ideal client is, understand their needs, and know how they are influenced. An ideal client profile is your firm’s sweet spot, representing a target group that is best suited for you, your products, and services.

A study by the Financial Planning Association examined current and future trends for financial advisors related to growing and managing their practices. One of the focus areas analyzed was the effectiveness of creating ideal client profile definitions.

The study found that firms with a formal ideal client definition have greater success in attracting clients that meet specific criteria and they are less likely to accept clients who are not profitable for the firm. Firms without a clear definition tend to accept clients that don’t meet entry point minimums and, in general, are not suitable for the firm.

Your Assignment:

Download our Create an Ideal Client Profile workbook to review a series of key questions you must ask to determine who your ideal client is.


Do you have a defined clear answer that inspires questions?  If you can describe to someone in a sentence or two what your business does and why it is valuable, you probably have a strong unique value proposition.

Branding and value propositions create a distinct fingerprint that sets your practice apart.  Ensure your firm’s brand uniqueness while effectively meeting client needs and creating the value promised.  You need to think about the value you offer to clients by determining: What are their needs and how will you satisfy those needs?

Position yourself as someone who understands where your clients and prospects are coming from, where they are going, and what they need along the journey to reach their destination.

Your Assignment:

Download our Create a Unique Value Proposition workbook to learn two key mistakes you need to avoid, ideas to help you understand your clients’ needs and the value you provide, and three essential questions you need to answer before creating your unique value proposition.


It’s true; most of us are vying for attention from potential clients in a very crowded marketing space. So, how can you get to the front of the pack? Check in on your competition.

Successful businesses are keenly aware of what the competition is doing, but more importantly, what they aren’t doing. By scanning various marketing networks your competitors are using, you can identify what type of messaging is working and the audience they are targeting.

Your Assignment:

Download our Complete a Competitive Analysis workbook to identify your competitors, identify similarities and differences, and ideas to identify how your product and service offerings are unique.

With just a few weeks left in the year, you still have time to create your roadmap for 2016 with a little planning. Be sure to watch for our regular quarterly newsletter in January as we continue our discussion on making the New Year a successful one!

Ironstone’s vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

The foundation of our Performance Coaching and Consulting Programs are based on Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, which is essential to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Our ultimate goal is to help you avoid trial and error; shifting your mindset to launch your process of intentional change. [LEARN MORE]

To work with Ironstone or our affiliates, contact us at 1.800.917.8020, email us, complete our “contact us” form, or join the Ironstone – Financial Industry Professionals Practice Management Group on LinkedIn to start the collaboration.

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