How to Set Goals as An Established Advisor - What Would Arlene Say?

6 min read
January 04, 2018

Setting goals when you first get started with your financial planning practice may seem overwhelming. In hindsight, however, it’s fairly straightforward. You need clients. You need to be making money. You need to grow. You need to get a marketing plan in place. All of these things are achievable and easy to track progress with.

But what happens when you’re several years into your practice and aren’t necessarily looking to grow your client base? How do you set goals when you’re genuinely happy with the size and state of your business?

Why Continue to Set Goals?

When you’re in the early days of your practice, you’re just scraping by. Any goals you set are going to be good goals! You’re just working toward any and all forms of success - big and small. As time goes on, though, you need to continue setting goals - even if you’re completely content with how your practice is chugging along.

Setting good goals is a practice that has so many benefits. Here are just a few:

  • They help move you forward.
  • They help reduce stress.
  • They help you become more efficient.
  • They help you grow (in ways other than “get more clients”).
  • They help you avoid becoming stagnant in your practice (which can often lead to you missing things - like a hole in your marketing funnel, or an unhappy client).
  • They help you stay inspired by what you do.

This last point is really key. Your goals at this stage of the game should help you stay inspired. You should be setting goals that get you excited about going to work every morning. After all, you started this practice with a dream - now that you’ve achieved it, you should continue to dream bigger!

What Goals Should You Set?

There are so many different goals that you can choose to set for yourself and your business - and none of them are wrong. That’s the beautiful thing about goal setting. Your goals are completely unique to you, which means they can be anything you want them to be.

A good first step to goal setting when you’re farther along in your practice is to decide what kinds of goals you’d like to accomplish.

Client-Related Goals

Do you still love the clients you work with? If you’re still over the moon with everyone you’ve been working with for a while - that’s fantastic! Nice job setting a successful niche from the get-go. However, if you’re feeling so-so about any one particular group you’re working with regularly, or (on the opposite end of the spectrum) you love working with a small subset of your clients - it might be time to do some reevaluation.

Even if you’re not currently looking to take on more clients, you can always be looking to take on better clients. If you love a particular aspect of financial planning, or you adore working with people who have a certain lifestyle or occupation, it’s time to rework your marketing to target those people. Your clients should make you feel excited to work with them!

If you’re ready to start getting better clients, a few goals you could set are:

  • I want to rewrite my website’s content to focus more on the niche I’m passionate about.
  • I want to get involved in local and virtual communities where I can be around my ideal client.
  • I want to create a more efficient process so my non-ideal clients will self select out of my funnel.

Revenue-Related Goals

Whether you want to have a lifestyle practice or a firm who eventually employs multiple advisors, you should always be working toward a revenue that makes you comfortable and happy. Some people are happy with what they’re making now, and there’s nothing wrong with being happy with where you are. Let me repeat that: you’re allowed to be happy making exactly what you make!

But, if you’re like most people, you’d love to be able to make more money without working any more than you currently are. Heck, you might want to work less than you currently are. How do you do this without taking on more clients? You raise your rates.

This ties in nicely with working toward getting better clients (as opposed to just more clients - regardless of whether or not they’re a good fit for you). If you’d love to see a steady revenue increase, but aren’t ready to take on a slew of new clients, here are a few goals to consider:

  • I want my revenue-per-client to be $XXX.
  • I would like to raise my rates so that all new clients are paying $XXX.
  • I’d like each hour I work (billable hours or otherwise) to be worth $XXX.

Education-Related Goals

Personally, I believe that there isn’t a better way to stay jazzed about the world of financial planning and running your own business than to continue your education. Yes, there are CFP® CE guidelines - but I’m talking about going above and beyond.

Set non-CFP® goals for yourself, too! Here are a few ideas to get you rolling:

  • I want to take a course in email marketing this year.
  • I want to learn more about retirement planning for those nearing retirement - even though that’s not something my clients need yet, it will be in the future.  
  • I want to educate myself on discussing diversity in the industry. To do that, I’d like to join a discussion or mastermind group to help me start those conversations.

Involvement-Related Goals

One way I’d like to see established advisors continue to grow themselves (and their practices) is by getting more involved. If you’re a seasoned planner, younger planners need you. Even equally-seasoned planners need you! This community is nothing if not supportive of one another, and getting involved in those efforts is a phenomenal way to stay engaged with your career path.

You can also choose to spread the financial planning gospel in other ways - like in your local community. Get involved in some pro-bono work for a local nonprofit, or host free Q&A sessions at your local library. At this point in your career, you may not be doing this as a means of marketing. Instead, look at it as a way to solidify yourself as a thought leader in the space - as someone who knows what they’re talking about. And you’ll be helping others, which is why you got into this in the first place!

A few concrete goals to start chasing could be:

  • I want to get involved by sponsoring free city events, or offer free seminars on basic financial planning and debt management in my local area.
  • I’d love to start writing for a publication - like Financial Planning Magazine.
  • I want to get involved in a mentor/mentee program through FPA or NAPFA.

Non-Business-Related Goals

Hey, you’ve earned the right to step away from your business every once in a while. If you’ve been running your practice for several years, you might find it’s become a bit all-consuming. Or maybe you  just sacrificed hobbies and time spent on non-business activities in the early days, and now you’d like to reclaim them. That’s great!

I recently had a client who was shocked that I offered to harass him to go to the gym multiple times a week. But I totally offered! He wanted to go at least three or four times a week, and wasn’t finding the motivation himself. That’s what a coach is for! In my mind, personal goals are just as important as professional goals. When you are your business, you need to take care of yourself first.

A few non-business goals could be:

  • I want to commit to going to the gym X times a week.
  • I want to turn off my email notifications at night so I can engage with my family.
  • I want to round up my friends and join a weekly pub trivia night.

Your Goals are Yours, and Yours Alone

If I can have you take one thing away from this blog, it’s this: your goals are unique to you - they get to be whatever you want them to be. Nobody gets to “should” you when it comes to your goals. Unfortunately, I see this happen often. A colleague will tell you your goals don’t make sense, that they’re not big enough, or that they’re too big. Well guess what? I give you permission to nod politely and then tell them to go fly a kite.

This is your life and your business. Your goals are enough. Your life is enough. Your practice is enough. You are enough. Whatever goals you set for your own unique personal and professional growth are set by you - which is what makes them so darn amazing!

When you’re working to set goals, focus on a select few that really make your heart pop and decide what “success” will look like as you track your progress. Need help? Reach out to your colleagues. Utilize the XY Planning Network VIP Radio Community Facebook group. Better yet, email me! As a coach, I love to help clients grow towards goals that set their hearts on fire. Let’s get going!


About Arlene Moss, Executive Coach

Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.

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