Visualize Your Practice Management Areas as a Venn Diagram

When evaluating practice management areas, advisors tend to focus on each area as if it were a stand-alone component. Advisors also like to create their practice management list in order of importance or by the percentage of time they spend in each area. 

A new way of analyzing practice management

Think of practice management as an integration of the components of your business. Picture the relationships of items on your list as a Venn diagram. Client services decisions may have an impact on business development and marketing. Work-flow processes for new clients affect operations, compliance, and portfolio management.

Here are several examples of integrated practice management areas.

The obvious one – Technology

Advisors can easily picture a Venn diagram with technology overlapping many, if not all, of the practice management areas. Advisors can take this a step further and see how individual technology tools (e.g., CRM, iPad) are integrated with the front end and back-office of the firm. Think about the areas of your business the portfolio reporting system can service. Even those Excel spreadsheets developed for a single purpose may have multiple uses in your firm.


The one that should be obvious - Compliance

Advisors agree that compliance touches all areas of the business, including staff management, business development, marketing and portfolio management; yet many advisors keep the compliance manual on an office shelf. Each area should have a compliance section, including explanations for what employees can and cannot do. Your back-office staff may need examples on how to avoid custody and privacy issues. Your marketing department needs to understand where the line is drawn on using social media and blogs to advertise your firm. Employees that enter trades need to understand the implications of trade errors and develop procedures to avoid them.


The not so obvious one - Strategic Planning/Budgeting

While succession planning is on most advisors list, strategic planning/budgeting is not. Planning for your firm’s growth is an important process and affects all areas of your firm. As an example of multiple areas serviced by your technology, this process utilizes information from your accounting, billing, and portfolio reporting systems. Use the information from these systems to analyze your cash flows, AUM by variables (e.g., clients, advisors), and trends in revenue sources and expense items. The analysis will assist in forecasting AUM, projecting revenues, and developing a budget for each of your practice management areas.  


Practice management and outsourcing

While advisors are turning to outsourcing services for areas on their practice management list, advisors must include those areas in their Venn diagram and ensure integration of those services with the firm. For example, if you outsource compliance, you must ensure that the compliance manual is integrated with your advisory practice. 

What’s in your Venn diagram?

Susan Glover is President of Susan Glover & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in operating solutions for new and growing advisory firms. With over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, she assists advisors in the areas of transition, operations & technology management, and business support. Visit her website at: You can email her at

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