A new year means a chance to start fresh with strategies that will push your practice forward.

While there are many ways to approach a fresh start, practice-management and marketing professionals offer their top four must-have strategies for financial advisors:

1. Keep your prospecting pipeline full
You must ensure that you always have leads to pursue, says Sylvia Garibaldi, business-building coach and founder of SG and Associates in Toronto.

Whether you’re going to networking events or organizing speaking engagements, look for opportunities that put you face to face with members of your target market.

For example, if you work well with doctors and want more prospects in that field, connect with a local medical association. Explain that you specialize in working with these professionals and that you would like to speak to members about their financial concerns.

Your goal is to convert prospects into clients, Garibaldi says, but that takes time. So, develop a process for following up with them.

That could involve sending prospects your newsletter, inviting them out for a friendly coffee or offering a complimentary financial review.

Your prospecting efforts do not end once someone becomes a client. You are always networking to keep that pipeline full.

2. Build relationships through communication
Build a communication plan so you are consistently visible to anyone who brings you business, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal.

This network would include clients, prospects and centres of influence. Who are you meeting for coffee? Who gets a phone call? Who is being invited to your next event?

Setting up these communication events on a monthly basis will keep you organized and provide your contacts with personalized interaction.

3. Target your social-media interaction
Marketing yourself digitally is easy and cost-effective; it’s also a waste of time if nobody is reading it, says Richard Heft, Toronto-based communications director with Ext. Marketing Inc.

“The social-media realm is very dynamic,” Heft says. “There are new [sites] coming out every day. Target where your best clients and prospects are going to be looking for that type of conversation.”

Ask your clients how they engage themselves online. You can ask in person or through a short email questionnaire.

If the response indicates that only 10% of your clients read blog postings regularly, writing weekly blogs may not be the best use of your time. Instead, you may find, for example, that your clients appreciate the kind of snippets of information provided through Twitter.

4. Manage client expectations
“Most advisors promise too much,” says Jasmin Bergeron, a keynote speaker for financial advisors and director of the MBA program in financial services at l’Université du Québec à Montréal.

The problem with over-promising is that clients will expect a level of service that might be difficult to provide, which could invite disappointment.

“Go for the classic, says Bergeron. “Under-promise and over-deliver.”

For example, if you tell your clients you’ll call them back “as soon as possible,” you’re setting yourself up for failure, because that can be interpreted in many ways. If you promise to return calls within 24 hours and you actually do so in half of the time, you’ve exceeded your clients’ expectations.

This is the third instalment in a three-part series on starting the new year on a positive note.