When I go into financial planning practices, a lot of the time the issues and challenges we identify can often be traced back to having a lack of purpose.

    I saw an adviser recently who is going through a divorce. It was hard for him to know what to do with himself, given the state of limbo he found himself in personally. Understandably, he was suffering from a lack of focus and a lack of direction, but the impact on his business was that it was suffering too.

    The starting point for having a clear purpose is to think about your back story. What is the reason why you set up a financial planning practice in the first place, and why is that you do what you do?

    When we do this in either our workshop sessions or on a one-to-one basis, you can almost feel the energy coming back to that person. It’s a pretty powerful thing to stop and remember how fresh and energised you felt when you were just starting out.

    Everyone’s got a story of how they got to where they are now, and when you reconnect with that, it’s a great reminder of what it’s all about.

    By going through this process, you can stop to recognise if you’ve gone way off track.

    Your reason for getting into financial planning might have been to make a difference more broadly, or to change lives for a certain number of clients. Sometimes it might be more personal – for example, seeing parents who struggled financially and not wanting that for you and your family.

    From there, you can write a vision for your business, which will then serve as both a reminder and a measure of success. Ultimately, it’s a statement of intent that you and your team can get behind.

    Purpose, then plan

    Once you’ve got an overall specific purpose and an idea what you’re aiming to achieve, you can then work backwards from that at a strategic level.

    Financial planners are great at doing this for their clients, but less so when it comes to planning for their own business.

    Sometimes, the way firms approach developing their business is a bit cart before the horse. There can be a lot of focus on say, getting chartered, or defining a client proposition, but along the way you can lose sight of that core purpose and why you get out of bed in the morning.

    Everything you do needs to feed into that bigger vision. If it doesn’t, then you don’t do it. You don’t need to start that new project or implement that new system if it’s not part of your overarching vision.

    A podcast I listened to recently summed it up nicely: “Once all the big decisions are made, all of the smaller decisions come into better focus.”

    There has to be a correlation between the plan and the purpose, and it’s about combining the two of them together.

    You can’t have one without the other – if you’ve got a purpose and no plan, then it just becomes words on a board.

    On a practical level, let’s say you’ve got a vision for where you want the business to be in 2030. So for that to happen, what’s your vision for 2029, 2028 and so on?

    At that point, what we’ve found works well in cementing that vision is that each team member then has individual objectives that lead directly into the company objectives.

    That way, everyone is playing their crucial part. The business can achieve its goals without really thinking about it - it becomes second nature.

    Further reading 

    Simon Sinek’s Start with Why is the obvious one when thinking about your purpose and vision.

    But there’s another book I would absolutely recommend, which is Essentialism, which is great for refocusing on what really matters.

    If you’ve read it already, or once you have, it’d be great to hear first-hand about your own experience of reading it, and any lightbulb moments that came off the back of it. You can contact me via the dedicated Facebook group below, or via email on michelle@standardsinternational.co.uk.

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