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Finding Practice Nirvana

Four industry gurus show you how to create an ideal business.

C. Marie Swift, 02/02/2006

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In November, I had the pleasure of seeing the Bob Veres, Tracy Beckes, Joel Bruckenstein, and David Drucker present their first-ever Practice Nirvana workshop. The event was co-sponsored by the Financial Planning Association of San Diego and NAPFA, as a part of the 16th annual Planner Resource Day.

"The idea really got rolling when the four of us looked at other practice management sessions and realized that there was often great material there, but nothing was ever done with it," says Veres, a popular conference speaker and publisher of Inside Information. "People would hear the presentation, they would go to other presentations, and then they would go back home to their former routine. So we wanted to break through what I think is a huge dysfunction about practice management conference presentations: We wanted not simply to give information, but to find ways to change behavior--for the better."

How do you do that, when everybody in the room has a different definition of better? I asked. 

"By getting the group to focus on where they want to improve their practice, their lives, their relationships with clients, and then present information in that context, in as many areas as possible, so that whatever somebody wanted to improve, there would be advice presented in our workshop setting," Veres says.

"Once we determined to move forward and develop the Practice Nirvana workshop," Veres continues, "over the course of six months, we all contributed ideas, each in our area of focus and expertise, on which areas of a practice might need attention and might harbor inefficiencies or--as Tracy calls them--incompletions. Then, we created questions that defined a spectrum of efficiency or completeness in each of these areas, and put them into a 25-point index that helps practitioners measure how close they are to enjoying an extraordinary life and practice in the financial planning profession."

The Practice Nirvana Index

"Most advisors believe their status quo is all they can expect in the future," adds Drucker, a columnist for MorningstarAdvisor who brings a myriad of insights and resources to the financial planning community through his speeches, writing, and Web portal.

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