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Proven Strategies Blog

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2020-11-24 • 20 second read

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Have you created a strategic plan for the coming year? Do you need to make refinements to an existing one? Have you had a strategic planning meeting with your team? Join Duncan for this actionable webinar, as he discusses the steps to take with your team to make a strategic plan an integral part of your business and an invaluable reference point that won’t be filed away and forgotten.

Click here for complimentary registration

Can't make it? Don't worry, register anyway and we will give you access to the recording.

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2020-09-29 • 2 minute read

Join Duncan MacPherson, co-author of The Advisor Playbook, and a small group of like-minded top professional advisors for this three hour fast-paced virtual event. Each e-Mastermind has 10 available seats, with Duncan as the host and moderator, you will get to hear what other top advisors are doing right now to come out of the current environment stronger than ever. This is not a pep talk, group hug or lecturing data dump, but rather a productive, actionable conversion with a clear path to implementation.

If you are an independent advisor, with a growing team behind you, and at least 10 plus years of industry experience - register today to see if you qualify.

The e-Mastermind process includes a 30-minute pre-mastermind consultation with Duncan ensuring you get the most out of your experience. Click here to learn more and/or register:

2020-11-24 • 9 minute video

The path to self-actualization, and the best version of ourselves, requires adversity for what it makes of us.

In this episode of the Blue Square Video Series, Duncan suggests you have to start evolving your messaging because, as each day of this volatility goes by, you can't just say exactly the same thing.

Visit the Pareto Systems Knowledge Base for videos, scripts and templates to help you evolve your messaging:

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2020-11-24 • 2 minute read

Many business professionals set aside some time in late December or early January to set some goals for the New Year. We encourage financial advisors to use a simple process and write out some goals for the year.

The following is a quick and easy variation of our goal setting process that you can use to get your visionary wheels turning. It's called W5 and if you know a thing or two about journalism you know the power of a diagnostic approach to reveal what's really important. Ponder these questions and put pen to paper so that you have a clear picture for what you would like to see happen in your business and your life in 2021.

  1. What am I grateful for? When setting goals, it's natural to place an emphasis on aspiring for things we don't yet have. In the process we can overlook what we have already achieved and take many important things for granted. Gratitude is a powerful force and can help slow life down so that we aren't completely driven by ambition. Contentment and appreciation in conjunction with aspiration can lead to balance and personal fulfillment.
  2. Where do I see myself at the end of 2021? This is where you take your goals out of your head and put a wish list on paper. Take a panoramic view in this process. Most people feel a wellspring of self-motivation when they go through this process and get very excited about the promise of the future.
  3. Who do I want to become? Back to the topic of balance, this question reminds us not to just focus on monetary or tangible goals. That's not to say they aren't important pieces of the puzzle, they are. As legendary business philosopher Jim Rohn often said, "Who we become is more important than when we earn or acquire." This question ignites other important issues related to our sense of purpose and personal legacy as well.
  4. Why is this so important to me? Speaking of self-motivation and a sense of purpose, this questions helps us cut through the clutter and tune out some of the noise and other distractions that compete for our attention. All of those external issues can conspire against us by causing us to lose focus and drift off course. By finding the answer to this question, we can create a beacon that helps us stay on track.
  5. When will I get started? Ultimately if we are to achieve a goal we have to take action before the Law of Diminishing Intent kicks in. There has to be a sense of urgency. Often the key that separates the best from the rest in life is understanding this simple maxim - After all is said and done, more is often said than done.
  6. How will I achieve my goal? Some goals are more complex than others and because of the Law of Cause and Effect; they require a specific action plan to translate them into reality. Coupled with the fact that most success in life is achieved incrementally, many lofty goals require that new habits be formed and a patient reliance on compounding effort be applied. Solid, consistent activity will often lead to heightened productivity if you have a plan and see it through. 

On behalf of everyone at Pareto Systems, I wish you all the very best for 2021. I sincerely hope it is a breakthrough year for you personally and professionally.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

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2020-11-23 • 20 second read

Who views it as an accomplishment when you bring on a new client? Is it you for closing them, or them for qualifying because there's a good fit? Which is the track to advocacy?

Attend Mastermind in Palm Springs, CA to discuss strategies with other like-minded advisors looking to turn their top clients into referral-generating advocates. Springs 2019 dates have been added! Click here to learn more:

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2020-11-20 • 20 second read

One of the strangest aspects of writing The Blue Square Method is discarding some of the notes I've accumulated over the years. Observations of the mindset of top fee for service professionals as well as the proven strategies and best practices we've developed along the way get captured, archived and eventually converted from one-offs into a flowing draft. And then they're gone. It's true that sometimes new beginnings involve letting go... 

2020-11-19 • 10 min video

Join Duncan as he provides actionable strategies to help you finish 2020 strong and position yourself for a great 2021! By focusing your efforts on the 20% clients who helped generate 80% of your business, and ratcheting up your service matrix, you will differentiate yourself from the crowd and convert clients into referral generating advocates.

WEBINAR INVITATION: Strategic Planning for 2021 – Dec 3rd at 2:10pm ET
Join Duncan for this actionable webinar, as he discusses the steps to take with your team to make a strategic plan an integral part of your business and an invaluable reference point that won’t be filed away and forgotten. Click here for complimentary registration 

Can't make it? Don't worry, register anyway and we will give you access to the recording.

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2020-11-18 • 20 second read

Ask readers to ask for something as part of your content call-to-action. Write a white paper and you create content that becomes a hook to a first interaction. This helps you sift out prospects from the mass of suspects.


2020-11-17 • 6 minute video

In this episode of the Blue Square Video series Duncan discusses how, when markets are under stress, opportunities to grow and refine your business exist for advisors who are proactive.

He also mentions how rewarding it is to hear from our past and current clients and the impact the work we have done together has impacted them and their business!

For access to videos, scripts and templates to help you be your clients’ voice of reason check out the Pareto Systems Knowledge Bank:

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2020-11-17 • 5 minute read

Controlling the Controllable

Market volatility, political uncertainty, competitive forces and various external dependencies are facts of life for a knowledge-for-profit professional.

It would be great if the world cooperated with our plans on a consistent basis, but that is not the way it is. Let’s face it; that’s why clients hire you. Friction and uncertainty come with the territory. Your ability to deal with this reality is a major factor that separates the best from the rest.

Strategic planning is the first step in focusing that ability. In many ways, strategic planning acts like the noise-canceling headphones I talked about earlier. As with your clients, there is a sea of noise competing for your attention, and the velocity and volume increases every year. A strategic planning process lets you tune out the static and improve the signal-to-noise ratio. This ensures that you focus on what matters - the things you have control over and that have real importance - so you can move in the direction of your vision for the future, relying less on hope and more on process. It gives you the guide you need to begin constructing something of greater value.

I’ll come back to the jigsaw analogy: Have you ever tried to assemble a jigsaw puzzle without the picture as a reference to guide you? 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 guide as you put the pieces of both life and business together.

A strategic plan can help you make critical observations about the track you are on, based on the Law of Cause and Effect, to ensure that you’re engaged in the activities that contribute to your productivity goals. It can help you identify untapped opportunities and overlooked vulnerabilities, so you take action accordingly.

The key is to apply a process, and not go through that process in isolation. My approach to strategic planning is driven in large part by the gap analysis I discussed. Rather than a generic pep-talk that tells someone what they should be doing and has temporary value, I use a Socratic approach, asking a series of questions that act as a strategic analysis and a path to discovery and self-motivation. I’ve had countless exchanges with professionals over the years where our process leads them to their own conclusions about what really matters and how to make it all a reality.

As an example, I was speaking with a professional advisor recently as part of a strategic planning conversation. We were deep into a conversation on business development, client acquisition and on-boarding when we reached the following sequence of simple questions.

“Do your clients fully understand and appreciate your value?” I asked.

After a long pause, he replied with a tentative, “I think they do.”

I then asked him, “How do your clients describe you?”

“I have no idea, really. They probably say they trust and believe in me,” he said.

“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?” I asked.

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 sporadic client communication and assume that all is well - part of that inertia confidence I mentioned. While their approach isn’t necessarily bad per se, it certainly isn’t firing on all cylinders.

In the scenario I described, I brought the conversation to the tipping point a few questions later by asking about the advisor’s approach to on-boarding new clients. He proceeded to outline his method, which was fine, but which 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. There is a place for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, 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.

The advisor I just described is a classic example of someone with significant mileage and experience whose efforts compounded over time, but had brought him to a plateau. In many ways 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.

It’s not an exact science but I’ve seen time and time again how very successful advisors have done 80 percent of the necessary work on their business, but are only realizing about 20 percent of the reward. A few simple refinements are all that were needed to unlock the full potential.

Continued Success!

Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson

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