In today’s wired world, it’s easy to waste a truly incredible amount of time in the lazy space that exists between “kind of working” and “kind of screwing around”. In-between client meetings, and maybe even while on the phone doing a follow-up call to a potential client, you’re on Facebook or you’re checking your email – most likely personal.
When you do finally settle into your day, you find yourself spending too much time doing tasks that don’t actually bring much value to your main business. Delegating such work plus, having a plan, allows financial advisors to focus on actual financial planning and landing new accounts.
According to Kathleen Alessandro, president of the consulting firm Energized Solutions, in Dearborn, MI, “E-mail pings, phone calls, blogs, IMs, texts, cubicle chitchat and undefined meetings are taking an enormous chunk out of your plan for a productive day.”
Alessandro estimates one intrusion occurs every 7 minutes and lasts an average of 5 minutes (including the time it takes to remember what you were doing before the interruption). That means up to 68 disruptions a day. All told, that’s 340 minutes, or 5.6 hours, gone from every day. No financial business management team can afford that!
If you’re a one-man or one-woman show, it may be time to hire an assistant to field calls and monitor emails, as well as other office-related tasks. Today’s executive assistants are not just secretaries. They are smart, talented problem solvers, who are also very driven. They have leadership skills which enable them to do your job when you’re not there and they understand your business. They can help in research and so much more, if you let them.
If you have staff in place, it may be time to review who does what or who is not doing what. Defining roles and explaining procedures can go a long way in saving time, especially when staff have to substitute for each other or train new advisors.
Another area causing advisors to waste time is the lack of technology utilization to the fullest extent. For the most part, it is technology designed to make financial business management and financial planning easier and improve client outcomes. Taking the time to learn how to fully use financial technology tools, and perhaps even participating in a training program for yourself and employees, may save you some time and boost your bottom line.
When financial advisors were asked, earlier this year, by Investment News, what would be most critical to achieving their goals for growth, 55 percent of the 234 advisors who answered said “fully utilizing their firms’ current technology offerings”. Another 28 percent said “investing in new and emerging technologies”, while only 17 percent said technology will not play a significant role in their firm’s ability to grow.
“It’s very important to spend time and money to train [personnel], and not just to buy the package and let it be,” Philip Palaveev, chief executive of the Ensemble Practice, a business consulting firm for financial advisors, told Investment News.
By being more attentive and applying a few (relatively easy) fixes, financial advisors can boost their productivity and stop wasting time. Open Forum offers these suggestions:
Know what needs to be done. List-making is a pain, but when you find a tool, app, or method that works for you, embrace it, says Rivka Caroline of So Be Organized. She says you should never leave your office for the day without knowing the eight to 10 tasks which need to be done the following workday. That might sound daunting, but there are ways to make it easier on you. Caroline likes to divide her tasks into categories and split up her daily tasks between them. That way, she gets some variety and contributes to several different areas of her company.
Delegate. Cut back on your workload to invest more time in the most important aspects of your company, says time management expert Donald Wetmore. For the past 15 years, Wetmore has hired a college student to assist him with the minutiae. He sees it as purchasing 10 to 15 hours a week he can devote to marketing and product development.
Get to work early. Setting your hours to assure yourself a bit of alone time in the office, before your employees show up, could be key. It gives you time to devote to your to-do list without distraction (or at least with a lower chance for distraction). This is not about setting your work-life balance askew. If you come in early, you shouldn’t be staying extra late, too. “It shouldn’t be about being in the workplace longer,” says Caroline. “It should be about leveraging your time-management to maximize productivity.”
Keep a time log. For a week, Wetmore recommends dividing your days into either 15- or 30-minute increments, and tracking how you spend your time. This sort of “snapshot” of where your time goes can help you realize where you have fat to trim and where you need to delegate. After that, integrate a time budget into your weekly routine. “Ask yourself, ‘Which [task] represents the best use of my time?’” Wetmore says.
Track your interruptions. Interruptions are a fact of office life. They’re not all bad. A new customer calls to inquire about your services. Some interruptions, however, can eat up your work time. Wetmore suggests drawing up an “interruptions log.” Create a few columns with dates and times of interruptions, their source, and the duration. Spend a few days keeping track of all of them. By the end of that process, you’ll have a good idea where your wasteful interruptions are coming from, and you’ll be able to take action to reduce them.
Make meetings productive. The only thing worse than a meeting, is an aimless meeting. The roundabout dialogue can make you feel like nothing gets accomplished. Without a clear outline and direction, meetings can be among the biggest time-sucks in financial business management. Caroline suggests having an exceedingly clear agenda. Know what you’ll discuss, who you expect to contribute, and why. Whether meeting with clients or staff, circulate an outline ahead of time and invite meeting participants to add notes or answer questions beforehand.
Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.
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