By Morey Stettner
Advisors sell their experience, expertise and commitment to client service. But most of all, they sell their time.
Their success largely revolves around their ability to work efficiently. If they’re putting out fires all day, they can wind up exhausted as they constantly race to catch up.Clients can tell the difference between an efficient advisor and a poor time manager. The productive planner runs tight meetings, sticks to a well-orchestrated schedule and rarely runs late. The less organized planner loses track of time, overlooks details and struggles to respond promptly to calls and emails.
Sensible work habits drive productivity. Allocating sufficient time to complete critical tasks — and delegating other activities to reliable aides — creates a more effective system.
Staying on track doesn’t happen by accident. Savvy advisors master their workflows by scrutinizing their to-do lists, prioritizing the most pressing issues and setting aside time to tackle whatever merits their immediate attention.
“Any way we can reduce stress makes us better planners,” said Kathy Parks, a certified financial planner in Knoxville, Tenn. “Early on, I learned a good way to do that was to put time on my calendar for what I needed to do so that I no longer had to rush to get ready for a meeting at the last minute.”
Parks relies on a carefully crafted calendar to maintain her focus and maximize her productivity. By plotting her workday in advance, she leaves less to chance.
One Meeting, Three Steps
Face-to-face meetings — with clients, colleagues and others — can wreak havoc on an advisor’s schedule. Conversing in person has its advantages, but it’s easy to let time slip away when you’re in the same room with someone as you both keep chatting.
Parks lays the groundwork for efficient client meetings by planning diligently. Soon after booking an appointment, she blocks out three commitments in her calendar: a time to prepare for the meeting, the meeting itself and a follow-up.
“The client meeting is an important part of the process, but so are the things that I need to do before and after that,” Parks said. “So if I set a financial planning meeting with a client for May 2, I might enter in my calendar that on April 30 at 1:30 p.m., I’ll enter data, do analysis to prepare, and come up with my recommendations. And I’ll schedule time to follow up after May 2 to enter my meeting notes into my CRM (customer relationship management system), change a beneficiary, etc.”
After many years of using CRM platforms, Parks has learned to save time when typing her meeting notes. She describes client conversations succinctly while thinking ahead.
“When you’re in CRM, you’re talking to three people: your future self, your colleagues and a regulator,” she said. “So give all three the gift of clarity in your notes.”
As she enters her notes, she asks herself: “If I’m unfamiliar with this, would I understand what happened and why?” and “Would a colleague or regulator who’s unfamiliar with this understand what happened and why?”
Many advisors treat time management as a daily challenge, examining every hour — even every 15 minutes — on a granular basis. But taking a big-picture perspective helps as well.
Every January, Parks maps out her annual calendar. Highlighting her priorities for the coming year, she divvies up her time based on pursuing the most meaningful objectives.
“Looking at things globally, I’ll work with my colleagues in an intense account-overview process,” she said. “It starts with: What are the big rocks that go into my calendar first? Then the smaller rocks, and then the sand.”
Her planning doesn’t stop there. Every summer, she spends two to three weeks reviewing every client’s file. Her goal is to stay one step ahead of what needs to happen for the rest of the year.
“It’s a deep analysis of each client account, with a list of action items,” she explained. “I’m intimately in their world. If a client sold a business earlier in the year, for example, I may plan for a meeting with their CPA in October to discuss tax repercussions.”
To allocate the proper amount of time for meetings, Parks follows a few simple rules. For starters, she finds that phone conversations are more efficient than in-person meetings to cover routine issues.
If the meeting will benefit from face-to-face discussion, she tries to hold it in her office. She’s more apt to stay on track when she hosts visitors.
“When you’re in your own environment, you can control the meeting far better,” she said.
Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Investors Business Daily. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Investors Business Daily