The Opportunity of a Blank Slate

Every year for our nation’s children, the beginning of school brings with it the opportunity to start over. No papers have been written; no tests have been taken. No grades are recorded yet. It’s a blank slate. For those who are in a new school, for those who have gone away to college for the first time, it’s more than a blank slate: It’s an opportunity to recreate yourself, to reposition how you are perceived, to reinvent your identity.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that from time to time with our businesses? Wirehouse advisors have told me that one of the best things about changing firms (maybe the only really good thing about changing firms) is the opportunity to pick and choose among which clients you invite to join you at your new firm, leaving behind the people who suck up your time with little in the way of compensation.

For most of us, that’s a pretty drastic way to get a blank slate. Here’s a better idea.

Start by creating a description of what your business would look like if you did have a blank slate. Think about who your clients would be if you could keep only the best and throw out the rest. What would your day look like if you could rewrite your schedule on your terms? What would you do differently in how you advise your clients? Would having a more consistent process enable you to give them better advice and reduce the stress of starting over with each new client situation? Would you be more comprehensive in your approach and help your clients be better positioned to manage risk?

You may not have a true blank slate, but if you have figured out what it would look like if you did, you can begin to implement the pieces to build it. For example, you can use the current market environment as your opportunity to redefine your approach with clients. Decide what you would do differently with your clients to better prepare them for volatile markets, and then begin to meet with them one by one. They already believe that the world has changed and are likely to welcome your new approach.

Do you know what your practice would look like if you had a blank slate? Once you have defined what that would be, you’ll probably see an area that you can begin to work on, too.

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