As the years move us further into the 21st century, financial advisors look to new ways to stay abreast of current demographic and market trends and effectively integrate the many avenues of modern technology into their businesses. Advisors who are looking to grow in 2015 should consider including some of the following ideas in their New Years’ resolutions:

Specialize

If you are one of the many advisors who try to cater to all types of clients, you may become frustrated with the breadth of knowledge and training that you have to keep up with as well as the time it takes you to effectively manage a diverse clientele. Focusing on a narrower segment of the market may enable you to become more efficient and separate yourself from your competition. There are many different areas that you can concentrate in, such as medical professionals, small business owners, civilian or military government workers and other similar sectors where advisors who possess specialized knowledge of their circumstances tend to be more successful. (For related reading, see: These Professionals Need Financial Advisors.)

In fact, many of the most successful advisors have previously worked in the fields of the clients they focus on because of the enhanced credibility that it brings them. If you have spent any material length of time working in a different vocation before you got into finance, consider using your experience there to find clients who are facing the same issues that you did. Your ability to empathize with them can provide you with an edge over other advisors who cannot duplicate this. (For related reading, see: Financial Planners: Specialize in Seniors.)

Technology, Trust and Transference

The digital world is making it increasingly easy and convenient for advisors to communicate with their clients through audio and visual mediums such as Skype, chat and teleconferencing. If you are not using these tools to stay in touch with your technologically proficient customers, then you may be missing out on significant planning opportunities. Younger clients in particular are looking for advisors who can provide them with online access to their finances via computer, tablet or smartphone. A website that provides them a comprehensive dashboard where they can aggregates all of their accounts (including ones they don’t have with you) in order to conduct their banking, investment and other financial business can go a long way toward attracting and retaining technologically-savvy customers. (For related reading, see: Tips for Advisors Who Want to Grow Their Practice.)

However, this level of automation may well be as much of a hindrance for your practice as an aid. Robo-advisors represent the next major wave of competition for traditional planning firms, and the services that these automated programs can provide will only continue to become more efficient and specialized at a decreasing cost. But one thing that technology alone will never be able to provide is trust. Building rapport with your clientele so that you know their hopes and dreams and what makes them tick will help you to maintain a loyal client base that cannot be threatened by technology. (For related reading, see: How Financial Advisors Can Adjust to Robo-advisors.)

Adding one or more additional services that require human evaluation such as comprehensive planning or estate planning can help you to maintain or increase your value to your clientele by providing benefits that cannot be duplicated by computer algorithms. The latter service can also help you to bridge the gap between generations with your clients. A vast amount of wealth is going to transfer between generations in the next several decades. If you are not meeting your older clients’ children or other heirs, then you risk losing much of your business down the road. Generation X and Millennial clients have a very different worldview than their parents did, and they are much more comfortable with technology. They may be less inclined to view you as their sole advisor in many cases, so the ability to dispense sound advice in times of need will often be a critical factor to your success. (For related reading, see: Financial Advisors Need to Seek Out this Group NOW.)

From an Internal Perspective

Your business can only be as successful as your employees and business model allow it to be. If you do not have specific guidelines for how business is to be handled in your practice, then this is the time for an overhaul. You can streamline your practice by Implementing a systematized workflow for every task that is required, such as opening and closing accounts, transfers and rollover procedures, placing trades and gathering and storing client information. This can help to ensure smooth and efficient operation in your office and increase profitability. Make sure that each member of your team thoroughly understands what their role is in the process and don’t hesitate to get their feedback as well. Employees who know their roles and are able to perform their duties efficiently will greatly reduce the number of headaches that you have to deal with on a daily basis. (For related reading, see: Key Steps To Building a Great Financial Planning Practice.)

The Bottom Line

The financial planning profession is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate, and those who fail to keep up with current trends will soon be left behind. The ideas listed in this article are just some of the ways that you can take your practice to the next level. For more ideas on how you can improve your business, visit Financial Planning magazine’s website at www.financialplanning.com. (For related reading, see: Management Tips from Top Financial Advisors.)

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