A new year provides the perfect opportunity for brokers and financial advisors to reflect on the past year and consider what they’re hoping to accomplish next.


To make your business stronger and more profitable in 2016, consider these three tips:


  1. Make a Map

Spend some time evaluating your business plan. Or, if you don’t have one, change that, Jack Kwicien writes for Employee Benefit Adviser. “A written business plan provides a roadmap for your business and can guide your day-to-day tactical and operational decisions,” he writes.


This is an especially good time to weigh how a changing marketplace will affect your business’ future, Kwicien writes in a different Employee Benefit Adviser article. Uncertainty creates opportunity and he believes brokers focused on monetizing existing client relationships will be better prepared for the future. “Your role is going to change,” he writes. “It’s not about accessing products. Your clients need your expertise, advice and counsel.”


  1. Maximize Partnerships

Do you have gaps within your business, and are they causing you to miss opportunities? For example, “if your business currently offers employer-paid benefits and you see that your firm is passing up a huge opportunity by not offering voluntary benefits,” Kwicien writes, “perhaps merging with a firm that specializes in these product lines would make sense.”


When thinking about creating new partnerships, don’t forget to do your homework. “Having a solid working knowledge of the interested party is essential,” he writes. “It is best if your management styles, personal goals (and) business ethics … are compatible.”


  1. Harness Technology

Brokerages’ technology spending isn’t necessarily expected to go up in 2016, Elizabeth Galentine writes for Employee Benefit Adviser, but firms need to pay attention to the tools already available to them and how technology can make their businesses more efficient.


Small businesses should especially take a cue from how larger businesses operate. For example, an Employee Benefit Adviser survey found more than half (54.5 percent) of large brokerages are likely to use technology to improve their data analytics, as compared to 25.6 percent of small brokerages.


Paylocity’s Partner Portal provides easy-to-use analytics and reporting capabilities that will give brokers insight into their clients and client needs. The portal empowers brokers to easily access critical data and streamline the flow of information.


Such tools are crucial for business in 2016, Galentine writes. “Just over four in 10 survey respondents (40.9 percent) report they have gained or lost business based on their ability to offer client-facing technology solutions,” she writes.