“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
So said Pat Riley, quoting Steven Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People,” while speaking at the 2013 PLANADVISER National Conference,
September 9 through 11 in Orlando, Florida. Though that quote sounds somewhat
ridiculous if repeated enough times, it resonated with me throughout the
conference as I listened to so many highly successful advisers discuss what
works for them in running their practices and keeping clients happy.
It is very difficult to live by that Covey quote. There are
many distractions in business and in life, and all of them can be reason to
shift attention away from what is important to you—or to your client. But in
the retirement plan marketplace, there should be a main thing.
What is your main thing? There are so many factors to
balance in the world of advising retirement plans, even if you ignore for a
minute the broader sense of the home/personal life and work balance. There are
client service, investment oversight, fiduciary concerns, practice management
and participant outcomes. With all of these in play, it is too easy to lose
track of the nuances of each task and have your core focus—whatever it may
be—no longer at the center of your day to day.
What is each of your plan sponsor clients’ main thing? Is it
mitigating fiduciary liability? Is it retirement readiness, or is it maximizing
To remain focused on your main thing takes energy and
determination—and the same goes for helping your plan sponsors with their main