Wednesday, 16 January 2019 08:00

Nicola Watts: Why goal-setting is critical in Financial Planning firms

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Chartered Financial Planner Nicola Watts APFS Chartered Financial Planner Nicola Watts APFS

Well, who can believe that we’re already two weeks into 2019, and if the new year is going to continue at this pace, we’ll be at Christmas again, we’ll be wondering where the year went and why didn’t we get done all the things that we hoped to achieve.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect, and many of you will have heard me either speaking or writing about my propensity for “faffing”. Losing focus and juggling too much, we can all get bogged down in the day to day job and can so easily lose sight of our bigger business objectives.

We’ve learnt over the years that by setting ourselves goals, but more importantly laying out plans and regularly reviewing those plans, we get far more done. Most important has been my recognition that I don’t need to take sole responsibility for everything. Getting the whole team involved, each person taking responsibility for elements of the work that needs doing has meant that we get far more done.


But, how do we manage this process?

I get all of my team involved. They need to be completely engaged and understand why we are doing things. If they can see the end goal, then my feeling is that they are far less likely to see these extra projects and tasks as simply another job.

So, we have a six-monthly strategy meeting. The Business Plan is an open document, available to all. We update this document and with clear goals we work together to develop a strategy. What needs to change? What new is needed? And how are we going to go about it?

We have a Continual Improvement Register – a “brain dump” for anything we might want to consider. Only when we’re happy that we want to take something forward does it get added to the Strategy Planner, breaking down the goal into smaller tasks, allocating to team members as appropriate. Monthly team meetings give the opportunity to review progress and deal with any queries and updates – we’re all answerable to each other and business goals form part of our appraisal process and bonus schemes.

Rather than having a massive goal that seems completely impossible, we break it down into the smaller elements that make it achievable in small steps.

So, for example, if we’re looking to recruit a new member of staff, we would aim to finalise a job description in 2 weeks, place the advert within 3 weeks, filter all applications and arrange telephone interviews within 6 weeks, Kolbe assessments, interviews and technical assessments within 9 weeks, offer at 10 weeks, contracts etc (following liaison with HR consultant) issued within 11 weeks, successful applicant provides notice to current employer at 12 weeks, and starts at 16 weeks.

Breaking it down in this way, you can see it really can’t happen any quicker and you can plan accordingly and won’t beat yourself up when the big goal doesn’t happen straight away.

We’ve also found that you can deal with several objectives at once. Rather than thinking about the whole process, which can prove overwhelming, concentrate on the one element that needs dealing with now, and deal with small elements of several larger goals to keep multiple goals moving along.


Nicola Watts APFS Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager, CFPTM Chartered FSCI - director of Jane Smith Financial Planning

After joining the family business in 2000, Nicola qualified to provide advice in 2001, and has been a director of the business since 2006. Since the retirement of her mother (Jane Smith), Nicola bears sole responsibility for the management of the firm, and the advice provided to clients. Nicola is married to David and has two young children, Emily and Olivia, and Poppy the black labrador.

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Read 2296 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 January 2019 08:52
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