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Simon Webster: Plan ahead to succeed

Setting out goals and how to achieve them is vital

I caught up with an old friend at the weekend, let’s call him Bob. We both worked together for a now defunct group until about 10 years ago. We then both left to pursue new opportunities in financial services. Bob is now a multi-millionaire and I’m not, so while I am delighted for Bob, I have been thinking about my future, what I want out of life and what I want to achieve in my career. There is a lot of I’s here but I hope you might share the thought process.

As a human being Bob is no different to me. He has the same 24 hours in each day as the rest of us. So why is it he has done so well? When I asked him he said “right place, right time”, which is what some cynics said about Rooney’s goal against Ukraine.

But Bob and Rooney had one thing in common – they knew where they had to be to get it in the back of the net and then they both put themselves there.

The questions for me are: What do I need to/want to do? Where do I need to be? When do I plan to do it? How do I plan to do it?

The answers are not really that surprising. I want to continue serving my clients in financial services. I want to make a decent living while I am doing it and I would like to build a business that has a capital value of at least £1m.

I would like to achieve all this before 60, which gives me a little over six years. Here, I think is the difference between Bob and me – so far this represents my wish list, Bob was committed.

If I carry on the way I am going, I might just about make my target. I know where I need to put myself. But after nearly 30 years in financial services I am getting a little jaded but I only have six years left and then, with any luck another 20 or 30 years in retirement, so I need to make those six years count.

In 1979, interviewers asked new graduates from Harvard’s MBA program: “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only 3 per cent had. But in 1989, that 3 per cent were earning on average 10 times as much the other 97 per cent put together.

Our business is always about putting client interests first. But any business owner needs to decide what he wants to get out of his business and if he is prepared to pay the price in terms of what needs to be put in, typically in terms of time and risk.

Too many of us, me included, have made survival the priority rather than setting goals for the future. I have set aside out half a day to rewrite business and personal goals, business plans for 2013 and beyond and I plan to take a good look at our marketing and positioning to make sure we are doing enough of the right things.

The RDR is a crock but it is happening. Advisers can treat it as a threat or an opportunity. Most of us have plans to achieve all necessary requirements. How many of us I wonder, have plans for the following five years?

Simon Webster is managing director of Facts & Figures Financial Planners

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