Six things you need to grow your financial planning practice

Can you write a piece about business development? they said.

Sure, no problem.

If you could focus on the most important things you need to grow a financial planning business that would be great they said.


That’s not as easy as it sounds.

As the saying goes; there’s more than one way to skin a cat, despite that we seem to live in an era where gurus and ‘experts’ insist there’s only one way to accomplish your aim; theirs. Consequently, I’m instinctively nervous about telling experienced professionals how to build a successful practice.

What’s more, how does one define success?

For some it could be a purely monetary measurement; the bottom line, a level of assets under management or the margin your business is making. For others it might be a more nebulous but nevertheless important concept, such as work / life balance.

That said, my years have taught me that there are several key components. If all, or most, are in place, you will increase the chances of your business being successful:

1.Define success

We all want different things from our business; there’s no right or wrong answer, just what’s right for you and those close to you; both personally and professionally.

Nevertheless, it is essential to define what success looks like. Everything else, strategy, tactics and the motivation to continue when times are tough, flows from there.

2.Agree a strategy

Strategy doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated; it might just be a series of steps to take you toward a goal. Yet without that strategy in place, the chances of you achieving your desired outcome is significantly diminished. To put it another way: success (however you define it) won’t happen by accident.

3.Know your numbers

We all remember the SMART acronym. However, it’s not only the end goal that should be measurable. The steps along the way must be too.

For example, if your goal is to take on 10 new clients in the next 12 months, as a minimum you need to know:

  • The type of clients you want to attract; you can then measure the enquiries you receive against the ‘ideal’ client
  • Your conversion rate; allowing you to understand the number of new enquiries needed to retain the 10 clients
  • The current number of enquiries you are receiving; which will tell you whether you are already receiving sufficient new enquiry numbers, or you need to increase your marketing efforts
  • Finally, the number of new clients retained

While the last number represents the headline goal, each element represents an essential component and therefore should be reported against.

4.Get the right people around you

If I’ve learnt one thing over the years, it’s the importance of having the right team around me.

Finding those people is only part of the job though. You must invest in them. That might mean giving them your time or arranging specific training. It also means empowering every member and trusting them to get on with the job.

Let go and let others get on with their job, so you can get on with yours.

5.Get your marketing right

If you don’t have clients you don’t have a business.

Obvious, yes.

Harsh, perhaps.

True, certainly.

I’ve often wondered what separates the most financially successful advisory firms from the rest.

There’s a long list of factors, however I’d place the ability to generate new clients right at the top of that list. If you don’t have that ability, or can’t outsource it, the likelihood of hitting your goals will be significantly reduced.


In the list of factors separating those who achieve success and those who don’t, persistence is key.

The ability to continue working towards your goal, in the face of everything life throws at you, is usually the difference between success and failure.

As Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” In other words, as he was also apparently fond of saying, it’s the ability to keep buggering on which really counts.

It’s not for me to tell you how to be successful, or even how to define it. However, in my experience, it’s these six things which increase the chances of your success; whatever that means for you.