What is the first thing you did today for your business? Did you have coffee with a prospective client or draft the quarterly market letter? Was it interviewing a potential new employee or reviewing a client’s financial plan? How is the rest of your day shaping up? Will you be moving the business forward toward your vision, or simply making sure your business lives to see another day?
As a financial professional, you know that an investment in the future has the potential to pay far greater dividends than spending for immediate gratification. Are your business activities investing for the future or spending?
Investing in your business requires that you have a vision of what you want that business to be. It is identical to the process of creating financial plans or developing investment portfolios for clients. You must discover what your client desires for the future—providing for retirement, education expenses, starting a business or eventual wealth transfer. Specifying an outcome for the future determines the steps needed today, tomorrow and so on. A client invests for the future outcome.
A client without a plan or vision for the future is much more inclined to spend rather than invest. Isn’t it more fun to have the immediate gratification of a new house, car, clothes or a vacation, than to think “I’ll save this for the future”? If there is no compelling vision for the future, the choice often defaults to spend.
Without a vision, you spend time on activities that may not create value for the future. Regular networking at your local chamber of commerce may be a frequent marketing activity for you. Yet, if your ideal client—the person most likely to benefit from your vision—is not represented at the meeting, you’ve spent rather than invested time. Without a vision for your firm and who it serves, it is unlikely you truly know who your ideal client is and where to find them. You are spending for the gratification of being able to check “marketing” off your to-do list.
Financial advisers with a vision know what activities will move them in a direction that prepares for the future. Serving on a non-profit board for a cause they care about puts them in front of other professionals with similar values. Relationships deepen, referrals are made and an expanded meaningful network is created.
Invest the time to develop your vision. Invest your team with the vision, and together you will discover myriad ways to grow that investment, enjoying a multitude of returns along the way.
Barbara Stewart, CFP®
Coach to financial advisers
Owner and founder