…and on that note, I gotta give props to @RobertSofia today!

elfWe’ve made it!  2014 is just about in the rearview mirror and we are shifting our gaze out the front window at 2015.  What a ride it’s been!

I couldn’t close out the year without saying I might have some mad respect for Robert Sofia and his recent article, “15 Moves Advisors Should Make in 2015” .  This could pretty much be a comparative business plan for advisors, and I encourage those in the financial services world to listen to the advice he shared:

  • Find Your Niche.  I recently wrote about this (like yesterday) that you have to target your skills and let people know you got game. Knowing a lot about one thing and focusing that talent makes you really smart about that one thing.  (I’m so averse to the E word – EXPERT? – blech.)
  • Be Creative.  I also recently wrote about using creativity in your practice.  We need to get outside of this idea that we have to be stodgy and sterile in financial services.  Have some fun with your clients – be memorable!
  • Implement a Minimum.  Ok, so I’m going to say I’m not too fond of the idea of a “minimum” as much as I’m fond of finding your niche.  I think there are going to be times where the minimums need to be thrown to the wind so you do what you love for someone who needs your services. Don’t be afraid to go outside your defined zone.
  • Gather Client Feedback.  Yes yes yes!  Always ask for feedback and really take it to heart.  It can be painful to be honest with people, so if someone respectfully tells you they don’t like emails, please stop with the barrage of emails.  Respect their feedback and they will respect your practice.
  • Pay Attention to Xers and Millennials.  Word!  Did you know there are more 23 year olds in the USA than ANY OTHER AGE?  Are you looking to increase your business, then get to know these kids. (I’m 43 years old – they are kids!!)
  • Host Social Events.  We have to stop taking about the money with clients and spend some quality time getting to know each other on a deeper level.  Social events do just this.  Budget for a few of these each year.  Your practice will thank you.
  • Refresh Your Website.  I think two comments Robert missed that I would have liked to have seen mentioned were (a) Responsive Web Design [RWD – fancy term for a website that responds to the particular mobile device you’re on so you don’t have to swoosh your fingers around to open things wider] and (b) Blogging.  Blogging allows a new way for clients to experience you and your thought leadership.  Maybe try it out in 2015?
  • Heed Robo Advisors.  I think Robert is more correct about this than all the other tips he shared (although I really hate the term “Robo Advisor” blech).  Technology continues to blow our minds and it’s going to blow away your business if you ignore it.  Pay attention to this advice.
  • Understand Social Media Is Not A Fad.  NOW you’re talking my specific language.  I think social media is already going through an evolution and in the next few years you will see it change from something that you ‘do‘ or ‘manage‘ to a skill set people expect you to ‘have‘.  You are welcome to join any of our social media webinars at Ash Brokerage to learn more about social media and your financial service practice.  You can also read an article I wrote about why you need to be out there and talking.  Compliantly, of course!
  • Use Video to Market.  This is a huge differentiator and people feel like they get to know you through these videos.  I recently did a video at the FTF Conference in Manhattan – literally ON THE SPOT.  I just sat down and they interviewed me on a few social media and compliance questions and then I was done.  Video is such a great way to share all of you with the world: your face, your voice, your thoughts online so people can experience you in a radically new way.
  • Add Online Advertising to Your Marketing Budget.  Shifting some of your funds to this type of advertising is thoughtful, knowing the right space to be in and how much to shift in your budget can be somewhat like playing the lottery.  My advice has been and will continue to be:  be where your clients are.  Try it out – but give it time and be consistent.  Sending a few hundred dollars of advertising to WSJ or Forbes one month and then throwing your hands up that it didn’t work is bogus.  As marketers, we should instead be teaching advisors who are doing their own advertising about The Marketing Rule of 27.  
  • Understand the Value of Accountability.  Ever heard of this company called “Weight Watchers”?  The whole reason it works for so many people is the accountability factor.  Advisors are no different – we all want someone to have challenging conversations with us about our business to make us better. I had the good fortune of working with Dan Sullivan and The Strategic Coach many years back; any of his books are awesome!  I would also suggest a book on this topic called The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.  And…you don’t always have to be a boss.  Try building your own personal board of directors who help you grow as a person and as a business.  Be open to their suggestions and constructive criticisms.  It’s hard, yet rewarding.
  • Dedicate Time to Business Planning.  Channeling my inner Madea I would yell, “Hallelujer!”  Put time aside every week to reflect on your business.  If you don’t, you will regret it.  Period.
  • Delegate and Outsource.  Coming from the Type A control freak that I am, I had to admit years back that I cannot do everything myself.  The only caution I raise my finger to is outsourcing your social media – let’s talk a hot second about that… please promise me that if you decide to do this you will find someone or a company who REALLY knows your business, your culture and can replicate your voice in the social space.  If you can’t find this, please manage your own social media accounts.  Your online accounts are an extension of your brand and your client’s experience with you, regard it highly.
  • Create a Written Plan.  While it seems almost ludicrous in 2015 that people are not writing business plans, but they aren’t – and they should be.  How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?  How do you measure your level of success if you don’t know what goals you wanted to achieve?  Write it down!

I also have to say that I love the fact that Robert empowered the reader to pick a few or even just one of these and act on it.  As someone who has worked with financial advisors for more than 20+ years now (and remember, I am one too), multitasking is typically not our best skill set!  My personal actionable education request is to pick one of these and do it well; then challenge yourself to pick another one.

These were all great reminders and I’m happy to applaud Robert Sofia of Platinum Advisor Strategies for a job well done!

Be bigger, better and more BIONIC in 2015!

Sheryl Brown / @BIONICsocialite

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