You’ve got a clever tagline in your email and on your business cards that sums up your unique practice, don’t you? As a financial professional, you’re very aware of self-branding and the huge importance a first impression makes. This shows in your logo, your chosen representative colors, the saying on your business cards, the way you sign off your emails. All of those pieces of branding are vital to get out to your clients and potential clients who you are as a person and a professional. But what about your mission statement? Do you have one? Do you have one you haven’t revisited in ten years? Is it time to take another look at it and see if it still reflects your practice?
A mission statement is more than your catchy tagline. It’s a way to set your goals and values into writing in a way that no one needs to memorize, though you want to say it in a way that best expresses yourself and your personality. You know the challenges though: You’re a financial professional who does financial professional things. How do you make yourself stand out? A mission statement can help by really identifying and accentuating your goals.
So how do you write one? Particularly if you know you’re a numbers person, not a words person. There are two main keys to getting what you want on paper. One, keep it brief and without jargon, and two, keep the focus on the client rather than on yourself.
Don’t expect to sit down and bang out the perfect mission statement all at once. You’re going to need to clarify some things for yourself before you even start writing. What do you do for clients? Why should a client work with you specifically? What are your objectives when you work with clients, both in terms of services and products but also in intangibles? Write all these concepts down in bullet points. They don’t have to look pretty now; you just want to get it all down on paper.
Next, switch around how you’re thinking about these items. You know what you do, but how does it look from the client’s perspective. For example, in your mind, you can know that you sell insurance products. But when you shift that for your mission statement, perhaps you might word it as helping to provide clients with financial peace of mind. Do you see what we did there? Consider what the clients see from their side and build your statement wording up from there.
Ultimately, you’re looking for something that does not go beyond one or two sentences. As stated before, keep it free of specific wording that clients won’t understand. Industry jargon has no place in a mission statement. Instead, opt for words that will make it easy to understand what you do and what you hope to do for your clients, with a focus on your passion for your career. And most of all, speak to the dreams and aspirations of the reader, rather than your own ultimate goals.
Let’s break it down into the key elements that your mission statement should manage to answer.
- Who am I? This is usually the easiest. What is your business, your basic purpose?
- Who am I here for? This is where you address who your core customer base is, particularly those who you would like to appeal to most.
- How do I do it? This is the goals element, where you’re bringing in how you operate on your clients’ behalf.
- What are my values? This may be the biggest one, as this is the why component, discussing your values and your passions that you bring into your practice.
Does this seem like a lot to fit into two sentences? It should be—you’re showing the world what you’re made of, basically. Take the time to work and rework your mission statement until it says what you want in exactly the way you want to say it. Make sure you workshop it with other professionals and your staff for more insight and to make sure you’re saying what you think you’re saying. There’s no rush on this, and it’s worth the time you put into it.
Then what? What should you do with your newly crafted mission statement? Here comes the fun part. The statement won’t do you any good in a saved file on your computer. Get your mission statement out there for your clients, staff, and the public to see. Incorporate it into your website, your email signature, marketing material you use with prospective clients, as well as internal materials. Think of how great it would be to have that on the materials you use with new hires or interns to get them into the spirit of your business from day one!
A mission statement may not seem as important to your business as your logo or your ergonomic chair, but it fulfills a vital role in your success—reminding you why you do what you do and letting your clients know your passion as well! Do your success a favor and make writing your first or an updated mission statement part of your business plan.