The ClientWise Blog

Financial Advisors: Your Cycle of Responsiveness May Be Hurting You

Posted by Chris Holman on Feb 21, 2013 12:51:00 PM

  • As a financial advisor, is part of your value proposition that you respond to client calls within a 24-hour time period?
  • Are you a manager or leader of financial advisors with an ‘open door’ policy, where pretty much anyone who is wandering through can pop their head in your office any time they want?
  • Do you interrupt working on an important project to respond to an email, a text message, or a phone call?



If any of these behaviors ring a bell for you that is too close to home, take heed. Your responsiveness may be hurting you.


For the majority of successful financial advisors, meeting everyone else’s needs before your own seems to come with the territory. Pleasing others, i.e. clients, is not only what you do; it seems to be part of your DNA.


Here’s the downside to your people-pleasing ways. You neglect the activities that are most important to your business growth. Either they don’t happen at all, or they get done at the end of the day when your energy and focus is in tatters. The net result is this:


Rather than investing your time on your business and in the activities that advance you and your practice forward, you let others spend it for you.


[There are countless studies that point to the deleterious effects of a constant flow of distractions, messages, and information:

  1. One recent study indicated that when one is bombarded with interruptions, your IQ is reduced by 10 points. (That’s worse than the effect of smoking cannabis!) 
  2. Another study showed that, following an interruption; it takes 25 minutes to return to the original task. 
  3. Still another study revealed that office distractions chew up 2.1 hours each day, on average.]


The Value of a Subtle Shift

I want to give full credit to Elizabeth Grace Saunders (@RealLifeE), author and time consultant, who has done some nice work in framing this issue in this recent HBR blog post, and in her other writings.

She points out how a subtle change in mindset can free one up to setting better boundaries and becoming much more mindful and in control of the workday.

For example, some financial advisors might have the current mindset; “I’m not a good financial advisor if I am not always available for my clients.” For leaders, directors, and managers the mindset might be the similar sounding, e.g. “I’m not a good leader, if I don’t always keep my door open when I’m in the office.”

Yet, a clever shift in this statement can lead to a healthier, more productive attitude. As an example, how does this value statement seem to you? “Part of being a good financial advisor is demonstrating the importance of focusing on high priority work for my clients. I can keep my door closed during certain hours of the day when I need to get things done without guilt.”

When a financial advisor or a leader does this, they are substituting the proactive and forward-looking, “…importance of focusing on high priority work” as a key frame of who they are and would like to be, as opposed to the more reactive, “always available for my clients.”

Ultimately, ‘always being available for my clients’ is an attitude that does not satisfactorily benefit your clients in the collective whole. Financial advisors who never, or rarely, spend time focusing ON their business do not best serve themselves, their practice, or their clients.


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Topics: Organizing Priorities