S.H.I.F.T.ing to a Successful Practice

Beverly Flaxington

It’s not easy for advisors to do many things well at once – investment, developing and enhancing relationships with clients, supervising employees, managing a budget, marketing to prospects, and overseeing operations are all vital. Some days there seems to be no end to what needs to be done! And then there are the second-guessers and consultants saying “do this” and “do that” to grow your business or run it more effectively. “When?” Advisors reply. “When do I find time to do what I need to do, and where do I start?”

I’ve had success juggling these competing challenges, and a client recently asked me to formalize how I manage multiple priorities and what works effectively for our clients. In response, I created the S.H.I.F.T. Model for Success™. The components of this model have proved effective for everyone from one-person firms to the largest firms in the investment industry.

The components of the S.H.I.F.T. Model™ are (S) Specify the Desired Outcome, (H) Highlight and Categorize Obstacles; (I) Identify the Human Element, (F) Find Alternatives and (T) Take Disciplined Action.  This is the first in a series of five articles that will outline each of the steps that advisors and wealth managers can take to implement productive changes.  Let’s begin with a look at the (S) step – Specify the Desired Outcome.

It may sound easy to simply set a goal. After all, you know what you want to accomplish, don’t you? But therein is the rub for most advisors. When I ask advisors, “What are you trying to accomplish” or “What’s your goal?” I get responses like, “I want to grow” or “I want to operate more efficiently.” These answers are too vague. With such broad aspirations, it’s hard for anyone (including the advisor and their staff) to know exactly what steps will help them achieve the goal.

Vague, general goals present no opportunity to plan or measure. One client of mine had set a goal of “doubling business in the next five years.” When we dug deeper, it became clear that he had no idea of how to go about achieving the goal, what measurements he would use to gauge progress, or even what his current level of achievement was that he wanted to improve upon. He had no idea whether or not simply doubling the business would achieve what he really wanted, which turned out to be enough new revenue to hire additional staff so he could work a little less. This is a classic example of how a simple goal may not define what the person or firm is actually trying to achieve.