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New Year, New Batteries, New Business Plan

By Julie Genjac

Tips for Year-End Planning

Julie L. Genjac
Julie is a Managing Director of Strategic Markets for Hartford Funds. She works with financial advisors in a practice management capacity, including engaging and educating advisors and their clients about current and emerging opportunities in the financial- services marketplace. She is a registered corporate coach and has spent the last two decades helping hundreds of financial advisor teams create a vision for their practice and serving as their accountability partner in order to execute on that vision.

By changing the batteries in my smoke detectors on the first of the year, I give myself a fresh start for the year ahead, as well as peace of mind knowing the detectors will be in full working condition for the year.

Have you considered what fresh batteries you might put into your practice for next year? Whether next year will bring about some serious change or will be more about maintaining momentum, the new year is always a great anchor point for a business refresh. Dust off your business plan from last year and take the time to assess what goals you achieved, which ones you missed, and what items just fell off the radar. Consider the following aspects of your business as you gear up to prepare for the year ahead:


Focus on your team

The new year is a perfect time to assess your team: what’s working, if the communication is clear and open, and if there’s the necessary trust and respect. Schedule a formal offsite team meeting to review last year, consider this year’s goals, and build a written plan to execute. It’s also a great opportunity to remind your team what your value proposition is, clarify roles and responsibilities, and set team goals for next year.


Don’t forget to celebrate

When you look back at last year’s plan, don’t just focus on the things you didn’t achieve, but take stock of all you did accomplish as well. Oftentimes, we don’t push “pause” for even a few moments to consider the great accomplishments that we’ve had, or the incredible work we’ve done for our clients. The act of saying “we did it” can be incredibly energizing for the entire team, and be sure to carry this attitude into next year. The annual team offsite meeting is the perfect time to celebrate. Be sure to highlight individual contributions throughout the year and also celebrate personal successes or milestones that any team members have experienced during the year (weddings, babies, new homes, finishing that marathon, etc.).


Pull out your practice wish list

Think about that pile of great ideas or best practices that you’ve collected through the years. Is it in a file folder in a drawer? A pile on your desk? Is it an electronic file in your email inbox titled “good ideas”? Wherever you may have that pile of notes, article clippings, presentations decks from meetings that struck you as interesting….dust it off. Thoughtfully peruse those ideas and purge those that are no longer relevant. When was the last time you took one of the various ideas you’ve wanted to implement to improve your practice, and actually did it? As you strategize for next year, pick out one or two of the ideas that have been rolling around and make a plan for how to execute on them in the upcoming year. The beginning of a calendar year is the perfect time to weave in a fresh new idea (or two), and then measure the effect it has on your practice.


Assess your business continuity plan

Do you have a business continuity plan? Financial advisors usually help their clients with estate planning, but don’t put as much thought and detail into their own business succession plan. If you don’t have one, start taking the steps to develop a plan, or if you already have one, take time to review it and make any necessary changes or updates.


Avoid the word “WE”

When was the last time that you said, “We really need to do this” or “Have we finished that yet?” What if I told you that “we” can be very dangerous…and here’s why: You can’t hold “we” accountable. Think of this: “We didn’t do that,” or “We ran out of time,” or “We had a new priority pop up.” As a team leader, you can’t ask “we” why an initiative wasn’t executed. If each important priority, goal, or task has one (or two) specific team member names associated with it, as the formal keeper of the project, you can check in with that specific person periodically to ensure progress is being made. For example, “Jessica, how is the marketing calendar coming along? Can you please provide the team with an update, and let us know if you need any help from us?” That’s a much more specific progress check in and, chances are, Jessica will complete that project in a timely fashion. This year, strike “we” from your vocabulary and be specific! Your team will appreciate the clarity, and you’ll notice that projects are actually being completed!

As the year ends and we move into next year, make sure you recharge your own batteries as well. Relax over the holidays, spend time with your family, and, if you’re so inclined, put a fresh set of batteries in your home smoke detectors while you’re at it!