With summer drawing to a close, it’s time to start preparing for the autumn months, traditionally a busier time in the financial services industry. To make a smooth transition into the bustling autumn season, you’ll need to do a little planning.

“Summer should be a time to go away and rest, so you come back ready to go,” says Joanne Ferguson, president, coach and consultant with Advisor Pathways Inc. in Toronto. “But if you haven’t taken the time to plan [for the busier season], then you’re just in reactive mode.”

Andrew Pyle, a wealth advisor with Pyle Wealth Management, which operates under the ScotiaMcLeod Inc. banner in Peterborough, Ont., gets his team to start preparing in August for autumn client meetings.

“We spend a lot of time getting ready to re-engage with current clients,” Pyle says. “For those clients we have not been in touch with during the summer, the team will be involved in making sure we have up-to-date portfolio evaluations.”

As well, Pyle’s team of five hosts an annual client-appreciation event in the autumn, which the team begins planning for in the summer.

Pyle sees the busier autumn season as an excellent time to focus on growing his business. “We find the best month to prospect is September,” he says. “People come back [from vacation] and they start to look at their savings. They’re in back-to-work mode and they’re also in back-to-investments mode. It’s a good time to get in front of new clients.”

To make sure you and your team are ready to meet the challenges of autumn, Ferguson suggests holding a meeting to take stock in late summer during which your team discusses both their personal and professional highlights from the summer. The meeting should cover team members’ “fun” moments, as well as what office systems and routines went well and what could be improved for next year.

Use that end-of-summer team meeting to begin planning your practice’s goals for the last few months of the year.

Assess your progress

The end of summer is a good time to assess your business’s progress toward your annual goals, says Kim Poulin, a coach with the Personal Coach in Montreal, and to make a plan for how you will reach those targets.

Once you know what you want to accomplish for the rest of the year, Poulin says, all that remains is to decide how to implement that plan and measure its success.

For example, during the end-of-summer team meeting, assess your progress toward your goals and your commitments to clients. Plan what would have to happen in the next three to four months to make team members feel the year was a success.

It may also be helpful to take a visual approach. Mark on a calendar all significant dates and events for the rest of the year, says Rosemary Smyth, coach and owner of Rosemary Smyth and Associates in Victoria. Pencil in events such as seminars, marketing campaigns and any remaining holidays and vacation time planned for the year. “You get a feel,” she says, “for what’s coming down the pipe.”

Connect with COIs

As well, as you prepare to re-connect with clients in the autumn, don’t forget about your centres of influence (COIs). Arrange to meet with your COIs during the autumn, says Smyth, to let them know of your team’s plans and to discuss opportunities to work together on a marketing initiative such as a seminar or a newsletter.

The summer may not be slow for your business. Pyle says the recent years of market volatility have taken away some of the traditional “summer doldrums” and left advisors with plenty to do regardless of the season.

Before summer ends, you can meet with clients who intend to make a withdrawal from their registered education savings plans come the autumn, or get the paperwork ready for clients whose RRSPs are about to be converted to income. IE

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