Time is the ultimate equalizer. A couple of years ago, I reviewed the results of a time management and productivity study conducted by Michael Kitces. He found that less than 50% of an average financial advisor’s week was spent on direct client-related activities, and only about 20% of their time was spent directly interfacing with clients. In fact, the typical financial advisor spends just as much time searching for his or her next new client as they spend meeting with all their existing clients on a weekly basis.
Yet most are running at or near capacity—with the average advisor committing 53.3 hours per week to the business.
The problem is that too much time gets consumed by inefficiencies and/or a lack of effective processes; resulting in advisors spending (on average) more time on back office and administrative tasks than on actual planning and meeting.
At ClientWise, we see time and again that those who are more in control of their time (and have a time management plan) actually achieve significantly more within less time—more client, prospect and center of influence meetings, more time crafting financial, estate and tax plans, and more time focused on strategic planning for the business.
Of course, the responsibility of running a team adds an additional level of complexity to time management. Suddenly, you have multiple schedules, approaches and individual motivators to consider. But it can still be accomplished if you take time to focus on three distinct but interdependent areas of advisory firm productivity:
Strategic Productivity: Are you able to look into the future and have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish professionally, for whom, and in what way? This is essentially what your business plan should map out. Make sure you take time out specifically to focus on planning—putting thought into and working on your future business. Not only will this help you prioritize your time and identify any capacity issues, but it will allow you to identify future hiring needs based on what you want to achieve.
- Use a portion of your weekly or monthly meetings to discuss your shared vision of the business as a team.
- Engage in exercises that help articulate and refine your vision statement and future goals so they stay top of mind.
- Make sure to focus on how larger business and team goals are connected to individual goals of each team member, as this will lead to greater commitment and investment for team members, and help them manage their time more effectively.
Structural Productivity: This area is all about process; and looking at the different elements that drive your business and workflows to understand what works and what doesn’t. At ClientWise we employ an exercise called ‘Keep - Stop - Start,’ with our advisor clients which they use to determine what processes are working for their business and what processes are not by determining what they need to keep doing, what they need to stop doing, and what they need to start doing.
- Get your team together and collectively assess which processes (repeated daily, weekly, or monthly activities) are working effectively and which are impeding progress.
- Identify any new processes to implement that will help track the progress of something crucial to your strategic productivity
- Finally, delegate these tasks accordingly to individual team members. This will help them better understand how to build their personal productivity around team tasks and future goals.
Personal Productivity: Once you have a clear idea of your strategic and structural efforts (as outlined above), you can begin to focus on your personal day-to-day and weekly productivity. While it’s a process that initial might not seem to apply to teams, it’s actually a very important component of what keeps teams aligned and everyone pulling their own weight.
- Ask your team members to take time and share their personal productivity plans with each other.
- This will help build camaraderie, provide an opportunity to see where individual and team efforts align, and help share best practices around productivity, organization, and time management.
Ultimately, the goal is to identify the source of any time management inefficiencies (Is it a lack of focus, a lack of time, or a lack of capacity that’s holding individual team members back?) and rectify any issues. In many cases, these exercises will uncover obstacles and opportunities where individual and/or team coaching can help refine processes and instill greater accountability.
Coaching Question from this Article:
- Does your team have a clear, collective idea of the vision they are working toward as a team and the goals that define this?
- What processes does your team have in place and are these in alignment with your greater vision?
- Imagine attempting to plan your personal daily schedule around processes that are clear, repeatable, and scalable. Imagine the time that might afford you to do other things.