Charting a Course toward Impact: Values and SMART Goals

As one of the most driven up-and-coming financial planner professionals in the profession today, TGS blog contributor Ian Harvey helps clients change their perspective on what is financially possible. Having a deep understanding in behavioral finance and investment management, Ian couples the two to create a strategic approach that is catered to the unique needs of every client and their financial goals. In this three-part blog series, Ian applies this approach to nonprofit management. We’re excited to hear from Ian, and hope this series will help you align your goals and financial planning with your vision for organizational impact.

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Organizations, like individuals, should spend considerable effort formulating their goals.  In essence, the organization’s leaders must understand where they are heading in order to make decisions today that service the impact they want to achieve.  You might have heard of SMART goals; we’ll get to that. Before we start to plan for goals, you need to be clear on your values. 


You don’t “achieve” values.  Values are thoughtful ideas that drive your actions and lead to a more complete set of goals.  Value statements define the core of your identity as an organization; they are (or will be) the driving force behind your actions.  They act as a set of guidelines for making decisions.  

Setting values can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  With the key members of your organization, spend some time bonding and getting to know one another on a deeper level.  Attending an event you all enjoy, planning a hike, or simply arranging dinner together will help you “break the ice.” Either the same day or shortly after your time together, plan to sit down and evaluate what really matters to each key member.  Hold the space, allowing time for all participants to voice their responses to a series of questions such as the following: 

  • Why are you a part of this organization? 

  • What brought you to the organization and what keeps you connected? 

  • What are some qualities you cherish and want to ensure your organization embodies?  

  • When facing a difficult decision, what are the guiding principles to get you through?

You should ensure you have a scribe who can take note of the responses.  You then might take a break and come back to the responses to formulate 3-5 statements that embody your values.  These statements will likely change infrequently, so be sure you encompass the key points. In addition, you might find you need more than 5 statements; it all depends on your group. 

Once the values are in place, you can use them as a benchmark when setting goals or making any type of decision within the organization.  You might ask yourself, “is [insert decision here] in line with our values?” So, about setting goals … 


Goals are different from values in that they will most definitely change over time.  As you grow and expand, you might decide your goals need to evolve with what is now possible.  That said, goals are a great way to start down your path to success. Your goals should be SMART.  That is to say your goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Consider the following: 

  • What are the thoughts that started your organization? 

  • What are the values you collectively agreed upon?

  • In the next 1-3 years, imagine you are looking back at your experience.  What has happened if you are successful? What about 10 years down the road? 

    • Assuming you reach your shorter-term goals, do you have an idea of what the next steps might look like - might being the operative word?  Over time, your goals are going to evolve, if not completely change, given what you learn along the way, and that is OK!  If you have a plan, you can shift your savings/spending to service any change in goals. A plan will also help handle any challenges that might present themselves early on. 

Take note of your responses to the above questions and any other questions you would like to consider.  Now it is time to set some goals that are SMART: 

Specific: You should be able to answer: who, what, where, when, etc. for all of your goals.  

Measureable: You should be able to quantify success.  Are you making progress? Do the goals need to adjust? 

Achievable: Can you reasonably achieve the goals you set forth?  Are you stretching yourselves too far, given the constraints you currently have?  You might set some long-term goals that are beyond your current constraints and set shorter-term goals to overcome such constraints so you can grow past them.  

Relevant: Be sure the goals you set are relevant to the organization.  Do the goals you set support one another? Are there any goals you have set which are outside your mission/vision and may distract from the over-arching hope for the organization? 

Time-bound: There needs to be a relative end to your goals, something to work toward.  In light of the larger vision for the organization, which goals can you set with definitive time lines to work toward that vision?

And you’re off!  Once the goals are set, you have the beginnings of your road map.  Set time aside every six months or so to revisit the goals and your organization’s progress, and to alter any goals as you think need updating.  Consistency in review allows you to stay on top of the direction of your organization, ensures you are marching toward success, and provides space to make changes as you inevitably evolve.  Exciting times are ahead! Next time we will discuss the cost of your goals and prioritizing them for success.

Ian seized the opportunity to join Financial Asset Management Corporation in 2018, which allowed him to continue enhancing the services he could offer his own clients as well as become an integral part of growing the business processes and strategy for the firm.

Prior to joining FAM, Ian served as financial planning associate at Rockwood Wealth Management for three years before joining Sontag Advisory in 2015, where he was promoted to an advisory position. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin School of Business in 2012 in their CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) Certification Education Track and went on to complete his CFP® certification in 2014.

Ian’s passion for financial planning extends beyond the work he does with his clients and right on through to advancing the future of the financial planning profession itself. He was co-founder of the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) Student Chapter at Virginia Tech, which grew to be the largest student organization in the country in its first year.  Post-graduation, Ian served as the Local Leader Liaison to FPA’s NexGen community and now serves as the community’s chair. Ian believes his volunteer work helping to advance the next generation of financial planners serves to the benefit of the future of the profession, and therefore, the clients they serve. It is this dedication to the profession and his clients that Investment News recognized Ian in their 2018 “40 under 40” list of financial advice industry leaders.

In his free time, Ian enjoys exploring New York City with his partner Emily - they especially enjoy classic cocktails in classic venues and all that is available under the sleepless lights of the city.