6 Ways Financial Advisors Can Become Instantly More Productive
Managing the eight hours in each workday to be as productive as possible is a challenge for every professional in every industry. Most of us want to be spending less of our time on “busy” work and more on the high-value activities that are the greatest sources of professional satisfaction – and those with the greatest potential to grow our businesses.
When asked how they’d like to be spending their day versus how they’re currently spending it, financial advisors typically say they want to be meeting with clients and prospects, identifying new prospects, and developing financial plans/portfolios. Those who haven’t reached the right balance between competing work activities know they need to find ways to focus on value-added activities and less on administrative work.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and resources to help them to do just that.
Strategic improvements are those that allow advisors to focus more work on the business versus in the business.
- Collaborate and communicate. Get back some of the time you spend trying to identify solutions for business challenges by learning from peers. Mastermind groups, forums, conferences, and events are good venues for advisors to share their experiences solving client and business challenges – to talk about what works and learn from what doesn’t. Put aside any fears you may have about sharing with competitors; the value of collaboration outweighs any risk of “giving away secrets.”
- Learn and grow: Another way to build your firm’s strategic strength is to follow and learn from thought leaders in the industry. There are plenty of highly respected experts in the field eager to share their insights in order to support advisors. The same is true for industry publications and associations. Learning from others helps you avoid learning the hard way, through your own trials and errors.
- Hire strategically: Many advisors struggle with return on investment for the time spent working with emerging clients. They try to solve it by bringing junior partners into the firm to focus on nurturing these emerging clients into top-tier clients. A great side benefit is that those advisors get some valuable training in the process. They might not all become top-tier clients, but the junior advisors will learn and grow regardless.
These are improvements related to back-office operations and advisors’ own personal habits and activities. Both affect the quality and consistency of your client experience.
In a report by the Financial Planning Association’s Research & Practice Institute, advisors who had strong teams, processes and technology felt more in control of their businesses. Conversely, advisors feeling less in control specifically referenced standardized processes and improved communication across their teams as areas where they’d like to see improvements. They also said they’d like to focus more of their time on client and prospect meetings, identifying new prospects, and developing financial plans/portfolios.
A few ways to do this include:
- Implementing portfolio technology. If you’re an advisor in today’s age and you’re still using Excel for rebalancing, there’s a fundamental issue, not to mention two primary drawbacks to this method. First, the time and effort required to do rebalancing this way is significant and takes you away from work that directly affects business performance. Second, the likelihood of costly errors is significant. Leveraging technology to do rebalancing may help eliminate costly errors and free up time you can put to business-building activities.
The same goes for tax loss harvesting and asset location – these, too, are often done manually. Platforms like Betterment for Advisors perform tax loss harvesting daily, allowing you to focus more on the things clients are looking to you for, like behavioral coaching and planning.
- Implementing shared calendars. These allow clients to see the work you’re doing for them daily and weekly, including portfolio reviews, rebalancing, performance reports, and more. The transparency can reduce the number of calls to the advisor asking for updates; it also gives clients confidence and peace of mind because they see all that’s being done on their behalf.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software is invaluable to an advisory firm. Among the important features is the ability to closely track client and account metrics. When it’s time to reach out to the client, the CRM alerts you and frames the interaction with contextual information that makes those conversations more productive.
When you consider that more than 70% of investors taking a survey conducted by Financial Advisor magazine reported the top reason for firing their advisors was because the advisor failed to communicate with them, this is a critical gap to fill for many advisors.
Given that you can’t magically create more time in your day, finding ways to make the hours you do have really count is important to every advisor today. How (and how well) you manage your time and optimize your productivity can be solved, at least in large part, by adopting one or more of these time management tips.
Alex Choi is the Head of Advisor Success at Betterment for Advisors. He works directly with financial clients to help them grow their businesses, acquire new clients, and deliver stronger value using Betterment for Advisors.