Time and time again, clients say their reason for seeking a new relationship is that they current advisor just wasn’t there for them in tough times.  After the volatile latter half of 2011, this year represents a time to go hunting for new clients who have lost faith in their existing advisor.

“I believe 2012 will offer tremendous opportunities to deepen existing client relationships and to gather new long term assets,” says Grant Shorten, director of strategic insights, Renaissance Investments. “Those advisors who institute optimal structure and discipline will be able to capitalize on those opportunities.”

Shorten is passionate about taking a disciplined approach to both business and personal matters.

“I put together a very simple schematic in order to mechanize the structure of discipline in my own personal life. It’s a simple three step sequence that I call PIE.”

That acronym stands for: Plan your outcomes in advance; Install daily rituals to get there; and Evaluate results on an ongoing basis. How does this apply to your practice?

“I always encourage advisors and their teams to take quality time away from their office to develop a comprehensive business plan and a comprehensive marketing plan,” he says. “A business plan is perhaps still the most neglected tool in an advisor’s arsenal.”

It is important to avoid planning for the sake of planning, he says, and the business plan must be a “living document” that is updated periodically.

This plan needs to spell out the team structure, their roles and responsibilities, and mission statement, while the marketing plan must identify the target market.

Once the plan is drawn up, it’s time to install those daily rituals that will take you to your goal.

Shorten recommends you look at your calendar and write down your routine patterns of behaviour to create an accurate snapshot of your typical day. Next, determine which rituals may be classified as “toxic” in nature, because they either add no value or are destructive.

“Toxic rituals may simply include time-wasters, like surfing the net, chatting with co-workers or extended lunches,” he says. “Highlight all the rituals that you want to delete from your life. Now you are free to install new resourceful and productive rituals in their place.

“As you install these new and empowering rituals and patterns, you will become the proactive engineer of your own habits.”

Once these new habits have been in place for a while, you can evaluate whether they are accomplishing what you had intended.

“There’s only one way to know if you are on track to achieve your desired outcomes, and that is a disciplined and strategic evaluation process,” he says.

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