The Next Smallest Action

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

I had thought of writing an interesting post (this week) with the headline Are you TAMPing it?” As I started writing this, I felt that I had left a few thoughts incomplete in the previous 2 posts about “The Real Reasons We Don’t Achieve Goals.”

The incomplete thoughts were about taking action. Thus, I thought it was worthwhile investing some more time inspiring you to take action. I ended the previous post “The Real Reasons We Don’t Achieve Goals – Part II” with the following lines.

There’s a reason 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. “The problem isn’t the goals, it’s the way we go about trying to tackle them. We try to go big and burn out, forgetting that “slow and steady wins the race.”

The magic here is in breaking down big, hard, sometimes even scary goals into attainable pieces. Find something small and attainable you can do, start there, and let the contagious magic of micro-actions do the rest. 

We are now close to finishing the first 9 months of 2022 as well as the first 6 months of this financial year (whichever way you like it). And by speaking with many of you, I know that most of you have set goals for the financial year. If you are one of them, let’s aim to finish this financial year like champions.

Most people I spoke with have got growth goals such as increasing AUM, adding new clients and/or increasing revenue.

If that is indeed your case too, before you proceed any further, try answering this question.

What is the Next Smallest Action that will take me TOWARDS my goals?

The emphasis on TOWARDS is important but I will not digress and leave that point to be covered in a future Nano.

For now, simply remember that you can take action that will take you TOWARDS your goals or you can take action (or more importantly not take action) that will take you AWAY from your goals.

Considering that we intend to finish the year like champions do, the first thing to do is to take stock of where you are with respect to your 2022 or financial year goals. Ignore the impact of the stock market appreciation in your assets. This often gives us a false sense of comfort that we are growing. Subtract the impact of mark to market on your AUM and see whether you have really grown.

Enter the numbers.

Where are you today with respect to the goals that you had set?

Wherever you are, what is the next smallest step you can take?

Will speaking with 10 existing clients help? It certainly will.

Will meeting 1 new prospect every day be that next smallest step? It certainly could be. Or it could be as small as crafting that referral email. There are 100 things you could be doing today but these things will vary depending on your goals. These action points will be different for different firms based on their structure and where they are in their journey.

The 3 key performance indicators (on the growth side) for firms are:

      a. New Assets from Existing Clients

      b. New Assets from Newly Signed Up Clients

      c. Number of New Clients

Obviously, you know these 3 indicators. Now for some homework.

What do these numbers look like for you?

There are 3 distinct possibilities –

  1. You are rocking the numbers – this means you are way ahead of your goals. If this is the case, congratulate your team (or yourself if you are a solo professional), figure out what’s working and keep doing it.
  1. You are way behind your goals (which is where most firms and professionals are in India). Even in a mature market such as the United States, most advisors are barely growing. According to a leading consulting firm, plummeting from 9% just a few years ago, the average RIA’s growth rate is just 3% after market performance and acquisitions are removed.  There is a lot of intentional work needed to come out of this bucket and is the scope of a separate post in itself.
  1. You are on Target – Same as point 1.

Now that you know where you stand, the next step is to understand the goals for the next 3 or 6 months. The goals need to be realistic but at the same time should be ones that truly challenge you.

We all know that setting a goal explains your intention but what comes after that is super crucial. As you know, it’s called Action.

Progress happens when intention meets action.

I can’t guarantee that if you follow the next smallest step formula, you will succeed. But I can guarantee you that if you don’t take any steps at all, there won’t be any progress and for all practical purposes, you will end up destroying the value of your life’s work.

Now let me ask you one more time, what is your next smallest action?