You come in at 6:45 a.m. You turn on the lights, grab some coffee and begin to consider your day that is coming up.
Strategy meeting before the market opens – and you will be talking about the wisdom of situational partnering with other advisors, and how this can jumpstart new business momentum. You anticipate the groans already from the back of the room, where your top FA, LOS 35, always tries to be disruptive while you speak.
Then it’s off to back-to-back client reviews until lunch, and some quick calls into recruits in the pipeline and some new leads you were given for your own business.
Lunch – you are scheduled to grab some coffee with a potential recruit from the competition who could be a valuable addition to the office, if only her spouse wasn’t so leery of her leaving her current Firm given the economy….
Afternoon – you get back to the office around 1 pm and spend the next 90 minutes walking around, talking to the Financial Advisors and taking notes as you go: need to address Sally’s client complaint, Fred is really quiet lately and not himself, and your biggest team in the office seems to showing tension between the senior and junior partners.
4:30 The Office starts to empty out gradually. By 7:30, you are still inputting your notes from your client reviews, updating your calendar for tomorrow, and working on your client seminar scheduled for the end of the week. On the way home, you get a call from one of your Advisors who informs you that he just got an offer from the competition that he can’t refuse….
The balance between leading an office and producing is akin to the eternal search for the Holy Grail. I’ve done scores of training classes around this and heard the best-of-the-best talk about how they try to wear both hats of leadership and producing. I’m convinced now that there is still not one best way to manage it all. It takes a leader with extraordinary discipline in organization, follow-through, attention to detail, patience, fantastic communication, great emotional intelligence who “reads others” quickly and accurately, and who has the ability to be equally strategic and tactical as the situation demands. These traits are easier to write about than to accomplish!
Given my 20+ years of observations of of coaching and training the best-of-the-best, I would like to suggest the following best practice solutions that seem to help Producing Managers keep the balance in perspective:
1) Teaming up with a partner, or partners, especially once your production hits $500,000 or more. At that point, it gets tougher to manage it all as a sole practitioner. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do both roles. Teams can help offset your workload by allowing you to focus on what you do best, while allocating other roles and responsibilities to other team members. Flip side: be clear from the start with your team that your leadership role will take time and attention away and they have to be prepared for that. Most team partners are fine with this as long as you stay accountable for your results and tactical goals that you promised to deliver on. But some partners over time get resentful if you are spending too much time on your leadership role, so the best bet is to check in often with your team to make sure they are fine with the balance you are trying to keep.
2) Divvy up the administrative and tactical roles with your management team as best as you can. That is, work with your assistant to be clear on how she can help you with office tasks as well as covering your clients. Having a strong and organized assistant is a must. Also, develop a strong relationship with your compliance manager so that they are a true partner in helping you manage risk.
3) Stay organized and on top of your schedule. A warming to all you “P’s” on the Myers Briggs. Use Outlook or automated calendars with pop-up reminders to keep you well versed on what is coming up and what you must attend to. Batch-process activities that beg for repetition and consistency, both in your own practice and in managing the office. Adopt a client service segmentation strategy for your practice that ensures clients don’t get lost in the cracks, and build a process around your new business development strategy so that you are tracking your leads and activities to bring in new business. Similarly, create process around client reviews, develop a process for reviews for your advisors such as a pre-work sheet/questionnaire for them to fill out prior to their review that helps them prepare for their meeting with you.
4) Get people involved. Build a culture of raving fans that believe in your leadership and who trust you implicitly. Have frequent strategy meetings. Do idea-sharing and be the first to offer ideas to others to help grow their business. Recognize achievement and take the time to really get to know your Advisors – not just their numbers, but what is important to them – their family, their core values, their hobbies. Consistent reviews and coaching prevents mountains from developing from molehills. Create a Board of Advisors in the office to guide you on office policy, community involvement and branding, and suggestions to improve the quality of work life (Assistants and Advisors should be invited to join in).
5) Develop a management team. Often there are some advisors who show a spark or interest in leadership early in their career. Take an interest in them and develop them, and ask them to help you in small ways that create small wins for the office and build their burgeoning leadership skills. They can off-load activities, such as scheduling training programs, coaching new-hire Advisors and screening candidates for hire.
6) Time blocking is critical. Not only are you modeling for the rest of the office, but it is critical to set aside time for your own business. Many producing managers who are great at both roles have made the decision that while they don’t like to shut their doors, it is essential to have this time for their own business, and others will respect and honor this time if they see you doing it consistently. Your assistant can also help screen potential emergencies from employees and clients during this time.
You’ve been blessed with strengths in two areas – the passion to lead your clients, and the passion to lead those in your office. You have a huge task and, no doubt, will work much harder and put in longer work days and evenings than many of your colleagues. For some of you, this becomes a test-drive for determining if you want to eventually be a full-time leader or Branch Office Manager. For others, you’ll never want to give up the autonomy of having your own business while having an office to lead. Either choice is great! It depends upon what fills up that need inside of you. By tapping into some of the solutions above, you won’t resolve the daily “Solomon-like” choice of where to attend your focus, but you’ll develop the necessary skills to keep the balance with a semblance of sanity and a great deal of passion.
by Dr. Steve Weiner