Year-End Planning for Advisors: Practice Clean Up

Year-End Planning for Advisors: Practice Clean Up

Financial advisor Year End Planning

By: Julie Galbraith, Guest Blogger and Compliance Liaison
Published December 5, 2018

As the compliance liaison for PAG, one of the main questions I get from advisors at this time of year is “Do you have a checklist of what I am supposed to be doing right now?” The end of the year, in my opinion, is the best time to really dig in and clean up your practice. What do I mean by “Clean Up?” I mean it is your opportunity to be sure you are starting the new year without any leftover headaches that can be taken care of today.

Taking Care of Your Clients

The first step in cleaning up your financial practice is to look at your client list to be sure that you have a clear window into their needs. You cannot help your clients meet their goals if you cannot define what it is they want to accomplish.

The end of the year is a good time to clear out the meeting roster you may still have and be as prepared as you can for the upcoming year and the ever-changing needs of your clients. On that note, my year-end checklist includes:

  • Did you make sure that if anyone is going to reach RMD age in the next few months, you are prepared and have the paperwork and calculations in order? Have you submitted RMD’s for this year?
  • Have you reviewed all of your Advisory accounts to be sure they are all being actively managed and that you do not have a high cash balance or any concentrated positions?
  • Did any of your clients with UTMA/UGMA accounts reach the age of majority? Did you move those accounts to the appropriate party?
  • Are you prepared for the upcoming tax season?
  • Did you meet with each of your clients this year to discuss any upcoming updates to their demographics?
  • Did you document the meetings you held with those clients and are those notes concise?
Cleaning Up your Financial Practice

If you need to stock up on anything for the first quarter of next year, order supplies now to be prepared for those first few months. The next step is to start tidying up anything advisor related. When you are looking back at this year, keep any changes in mind. Sweep out any leftover tasks that may be lingering. Did you make any changes to your location or your staff? Do your Broker/Dealer and RIA have the correct information on file? Making sure that anyone you hired or fired is no longer on the books, or that any contact information is accurate, is a basic but necessary part of keeping your practice clean and neat.

Are all of your social media sites up to date and do you have approved tracking numbers for them? Do you have any new titles or designations that weren’t submitted and should be? Maintaining an orderly electronic fingerprint for your practice and your U4 is your responsibility. Checking your FINRA Broker Check is something I also recommend, to be sure there are no registration errors.

As far as the office itself, look around and make sure you have filed things properly or uploaded and shredded anything that can be stored electronically. Keep in mind that your actual workspace functions better when cleared out and organized. For example, when I went through my desk, I found coupons from bookstores that had expired in April, an abundance of hair ties, some expired candy, etc., which I could take home or toss out.

Why not start 2019 fresh and organized?