Why Financial Advisors Should Think Small ... to Grow Big

The downside of thinking big, think small to grow

When it comes to growth I want you to think small. 

This may seem counterintuitive but small goals, small wins and small losses are necessary to make big progress. 

Anyone who has achieved success knows it was likely a result of consistent effort, doing a lot of the right things over and over again. To maintain consistent effort you need three things – a plan, buy in and a feedback loop. Wins, no matter how small, fuel motivation and affirm your approach. Feedback holds you accountable and informs when and how to iterate.  

Often financial advisors who want to grow have big goals – to increase their AUM by $100mm, to add 10 new clients in a year or to build and implement a marketing strategy that drives leads. 

Those big goals lead to big confusion and frustration. It’s not clear where to start, who to focus on and  what to do. Action is replaced with inaction and enthusiasm with excuses such as a lack of time, resources and know how. Yet, I’d argue that no amount of time, resources or know how will dramatically change your results until you change your goals. 

What you want is not necessarily what you need to be working towards. What you need are very small, actionable and achievable to dos.

Could you run a marathon? Could you take 52,400 steps? Both are 26.2 miles. Breaking down the big goal into a single step, running a marathon begins to seem doable. Just keep taking the next step. 

So how do you reframe your goals in a more productive way?

Define your big goals

Start by getting clear on your long-term goals and what success looks like over the next one to three years. Make sure you are asking yourself why do these goals matter? Are they aligned with your purpose and mission? Are they aligned with the practice and life you want to ensure you have buy in? 

Let’s pretend you’re looking to increase AUM by $100mm over the next three years. How are you going to reframe your goal to increase your AUM?

Think small

Break it down. Who do you need to engage with to help support your $100mm growth: clients, professional partners, prospects or all of the above? More specifically, which clients, professional partners and prospects will help you drive progress? What daily business development activity will help you connect with those targets? What qualifies as a business development activity? What are the ideal outcomes from the activity?

What value can you provide to drive engagement? What does providing value mean? What do they value? How do you know if they value it? 

Depending on your marketing and development strategy how can you support your approach with small, daily and weekly goals? 

As an example, if you use social media as part of your marketing approach you may consider the small goal of increasing your number of followers. Maybe you start with the goal of increasing your followers by ten a week or two a day. Or focus on engagement. How do you get more likes and comments? Maybe your goal is to get at least five likes and one comment on every post. Would that change what you post? What if you want your social efforts to drive website engagement? How would that change what you share? 

Quality is just as important as quantity. Your growth strategy may rely on growing a niche such as business-owners. How can you construct your goals to support engagement with business owners? 

Back to the goal of growing your practice by $100mm with business owners over the next three years. Your initial short-term goal may be to consistently add value to your existing business-owner clients that you want to replicate. You may consider adding value by creating and sharing customized content, connecting more frequently to understand and support their unique challenges, or by following and supporting them on social media. 

Ultimately the goal is to build engagement and perceived value so they view you as a go-to resource for investment and planning advice for people like them – business owners. 

Proactively connecting, creating and sharing relevant content, networking, partnering with like-focused professionals and being clear about who you serve and how you help to solve their unique problems are all good ways to take small actions daily in support of your bigger goals.

As you can see, the more focused and granular the goal, the clearer and easier it is to accomplish. When all you have to do is take a single step versus figuring out how to run 26 miles, it’s easy to make forward progress.

Overtime these small efforts will gain momentum. As your outcomes evolve so will your small goals. Instead of 10 new followers a week maybe you shift your focus to 20 or you stop focusing on adding followers and instead on expanding to a new platform or technology to help you scale your efforts.  

Persistence and patience

The most important thing you can do is to be consistent, which requires persistence and patience. Not everything is going to work and that’s ok. Keep doing the few things daily that will compound and move the needle in the right direction. Adjust as needed but keep going and monitor the results.

If you’re using a digital strategy it is easy to track progress and impact using open rates, click through rates, impressions, followers, etc. If you’re marketing and development efforts are not digital, set parameters, watch progress and ask for feedback. For example, if you want to add three new clients a quarter and you’re a month in with no prospects then it’s clear you need to pick up the efforts or try a different approach. 

Growth is not linear but effort can be. Consistent effort is correlated with increased positive outcomes. 

Think small to grow big.

Related: What 2020 Has Taught Us That Will Position Your Advisory Business for Future Success