Get it Out of Your Head – 1 of 3

The Take 5 Strategic Planning Process to Ensure You Are:

  • Positioned for Anything
  • Creating Your Ideal Life

Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen Covey

take 5 logoWhen was the last time you had a third party help you think things through to get your vision out of your head and mapped out on paper?  Having an expert help you to step back to scrutinize your current approach and define your ideal life with an actionable plan can be incredibly liberating.  Pareto Systems’ co-founders Duncan MacPherson and David Miller have developed and refined a process called The Take 5 Approach that helps advisors rise above the day-to-day, kick their own tires and look to the future with a sense of anticipation and clarity.  Using a 5-step process, including a series of three telephone consultations, Duncan or David will methodically help you identify untapped opportunities and overlooked vulnerabilities that exist within your business and set you on a trajectory to your ideal life.  Your investment to participate in this 1:1 process is $1,450 and unfolds as follows:

  1. Fill out our Fact-Finding Document – to start the process of getting things out of your head
  2. Call #1, 20 Questions to Clarity - an initial call to discuss your current track and vision
  3. Call #2, The Deeper Dive – 2 days later to absorb and then drill-down to connect the dots
  4. We Provide The Blue Print – we provide a document that galvanizes your vision and action plan
  5. Call #3, discuss The Blue Print – 5 days later to discuss the action plan

To learn more, please contact Ken at 877.359.8020 or at

Controlling the Controllable

Market volatility, political uncertainty, competitive forces, and various external dependencies are facts of life for a financial professional.  It would be great if the world would cooperate with our plans on a consistent basis but that is not the way it is.  And let’s face it, that’s why clients hire you.  Friction and uncertainty come with the territory and that’s not going to change anytime soon.  Your ability to deal with this reality is a major factor that separates the best from the rest.

Strategic Planning Acts Like Noise Cancelling Headphones

headphonesThere is so much noise competing for your attention, and the velocity seems to increase every year.  A strategic planning process is like putting on noise cancelling headphones so you tune out the static and improve the signal to noise ratio.  This ensures that you focus on what really matters – the things you have control over and that matter most so you can move in the direction of your vision for the future, relying less on hope and more on process.

Get The Complete Picture

Have you ever tried to assemble a jigsaw puzzle without the picture as a reference to guide you?  Sure it can be done through trial and error, but it takes far longer and is far more frustrating without a frame of reference.  A personalized strategic plan serves as your beacon as you put life’s puzzle pieces together.

colourful doors by Lavish Fine Art CardsUnlike creating a marketing or business plan, a strategic plan is more of a high level assessment of your current approach that can help you make critical observations about the track you are on – based on cause and effect – to ensure that you’re engaged in the right activities that contribute to your productivity goals.  A strategic plan can help you identify untapped opportunities and overlooked vulnerabilities so you take action accordingly.  But the key is to apply a process, and not go through that process in isolation.

20 Questions to Clarity

Our approach to strategic planning is driven in large part by a diagnostic method.  Rather than a generic pep-talk that tells someone what they should be doing and has temporary value, we use a Socratic approach asking a series of questions that act as a strategic analysis and a path to discovery and self-motivation.  We’ve had countless exchanges with advisors over the years where our process leads them to their own conclusions about what really matters and how to make it all a reality.

“You’re Not Marketing to Yourself.”

That’s what I told an advisor recently as part of a strategic planning conversation.  We were deep into a portion on business development and client acquisition that revolved around the following simple questions: “Do your clients fully understand and appreciate your value?”  After a long pause, he replied with a tentative, “I think they do.”

I then asked him, “How do your clients describe you?”  To which he responded, “I have no idea really. They probably say they trust and believe in me.”

Lastly I asked him, “What is your process to make your clients the voice you listen to in order to get the pulse on the effectiveness of your communications?”   To which he replied, “I don’t have one.”

It is common for professionals from all walks of life to drift into a pattern of client communications and assume that all is well.  And while their approach isn’t necessarily bad per se, it certainly isn’t firing on all cylinders.

In the scenario I described just above, I brought the conversation to the proverbial tipping point by asking about the advisor’s approach to on-boarding new clients.  He proceeded to outline his simple method, which was fine, but had several gaps.  I then asked him why he did things the way he did, to which he replied, “That’s basically the way we’ve always done it.”

It is essential that you constantly scrutinize your procedures in order to optimize and refine how you do things.  Sure there is a place for the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mantra in some areas, but when it comes to communication, especially as it relates to competitor-proofing clients, gaining their full empowerment as the relationship unfolds, and new client acquisition through referrals, you can’t take anything for granted.  You must continually strive to raise the bar, and to do that you need to know where you stand.

Eat, Sleep, Advise, Repeat

The advisor I just described is a classic example of someone with significant mileage and experience whose efforts had compounded over time, but also had brought him to a plateau.  He drifted into patterns and was relying on inertia confidence.  In many ways though, he was mistaking movement for achievement.  He didn’t need to repair any damage, and he definitely didn’t need to make any drastic wholesale changes or reinvent the wheel.  He simply needed to make some minor adjustments.  On countless occasions we’ve seen how minor adjustments can lead to major improvements.  It’s not an exact science but we’ve seen time and time again how very successful advisors had done 80% of the necessary work on their business, but were only realizing about 20% of their potential.  A few simple refinements are all that was needed to unlock their full potential.

Crack the Code

As you know there are three numbers in the combination that you need to dial-in to unlock your full potential:

Most advisors we work with are very solid on the asset management side but have gaps on the practice and relationship management sides.  Ironically, as this industry becomes more commoditized, the proprietary value and untapped potential gets amplified in those areas.  When you dial-in all three numbers, you create efficiency, consistency and increased profitability.  It sounds trite, but it’s about working smarter, not harder, and identifying where the veins of gold lie.  A strategic planning process can help you achieve that.

Continued success!

Photo credits: Headphone – Andres Rueda, Doors – Lavish Fine Art Cards

Article Comments

  • I am a successful advisor who researched & used trial & error to develop guiding principles that are very similar to those you recommend. I wish you were around 30 years ago when I spent a lot of time developing these priciples. I developed 12 activities that lead to success; ranking in order of impact on success. The first is “Effort”; most younger advisors need to work harder first & foremost. Secondly, they need to utilize “Market Intelligence” to work smarter. I won’t go into the other 10 activities, because I volunteered my advice to hundreds of FA’s & found that most need to get better with the first two activities (or not motivated enough).

    Stephen G. EdmondsonFebruary 4, 2014

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