For the best advisors the key to increased productivity lies in first becoming clear about their business goals and strategies, before they begin to implement time management techniques. They spend time working ON their business, to set a direction for how they will more efficiently work IN it.
They have a clear vision for the next five years, and that drives the strategies and activities they will focus on in order to achieve their goals. For some advisors, their vision is to spend more time with their families and relaxing outside the business. For them, increased efficiency means maintaining their current levels of sales and service, with less effort. For others the goal may be to significantly grow their practice—so increased productivity and time management are a means to get in front of more clients, offer better client experiences and make more sales.
No matter what your personal and business goals, increased productivity can improve satisfaction and enable you to create your dream practice. Read on for 8 top tips on improving your time management and overall productivity.
Tip #1: Be Proactive
An advisor’s day is made up of hundreds of decisions, large and small. For many advisors a many of those decisions are made instinctively, without a lot of thought. These reactive responses to emerging events may seem harmless in the moment (“I can take care of this myself, it’ll just take a second”) but, over days and weeks, can add up to serious lost time. The more conscious and intentional you are about every decision, the more you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter—delegating lower-value tasks to staff or technology. The low-value tasks still need to be dealt with, just not always by you.
Tip #2: Work strategically
The more you define targets and systems for your marketing and sales efforts, the more proactive you will be. Your daily activities will have purpose and will be aligned in the direction you need to go to achieve your vision and your goals. So, rather than taking a scatter shot approach to marketing—maybe holding a seminar one quarter and dabbling in direct mail the next—create annual goals, develop a marketing calendar, define all the tasks necessary to achieve your goals. And use a CRM to help you stick to your plan more easily.
Tip #3: Have a plan for dealing with email and texts
It’s not unusual for advisors to receive a hundred or more emails every day. Even if you take thirty seconds to deal with each one that adds up to around an hour a day—time that probably doesn’t generate revenue. So, it makes sense to implement a strategy for how you will deal with incoming messages. Some advisors set aside blocks of time for email (like, first thing, lunch, end of day) which ensures they don’t get distracted from other activities. It’s also a good idea to make use of email rules to automatically route message into folders and keep your inbox clean.
Tip #4: Client Documentation
Rather than reinventing the wheel every time you onboard a new client, create a professional looking set of documents you can give to them. It should explain the steps in the onboarding process, communicate how they can get help, how often to expect contact and what that will look like. It’s also a good idea to include an FAQ section.
These leave-behind documents reduce client anxiety over what to expect, increase their confidence in you and the process. They make you look professional and that confirms they have made a good decision. Leave-behind documents also reduce the amount of time you have to spend helping each new client through the on-boarding process.
Tip #5: Time Blocking
Instead of reactively responding to each client request or unforeseen task as it comes in, determine how much time you will spend each day on lower-value activities (like dealing with emails, doing product research, social media responses.) It’s not that these activities are not important and don’t have to be addressed, but from a time management point of view you want to constrain how much effort you spend on them each day, otherwise they can keep you from the high-value client activities which benefit you and your clients the most. However you block off your time, make sure each time segment is devoted to a specific task and put it in your CRM calendar.
When it comes to weekly time-blocking, some advisors only book client meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They use Mondays for planning and prep, and Fridays for finishing off things that came up during the week.
Tip #6: Be diligent about managing meetings
Effective client meetings are crucial to your success, but if you are not careful about how you run those meetings, they can actually hurt your productivity.
From a time management point of view it’s important to set limits on how long meetings will run. Stick to those times. Be flexible about meeting client needs, but recognize that not all meetings need to be face-to-face. Some advisors only work online and never meet clients—keep in mind that this is an extreme strategy and requires that you are prepared to accept only clients who wish to work this way. Other advisors strategically determine the type and frequency of meetings they will offer for each of their client segments. So ‘A’ clients may get multiple face -to-face meetings each year. ‘B’ clients may get one. And ‘C’s and ‘D’s may get online meetings using Zoom, or Facetime or another video meeting app.
Tip #7: Utilize an advisor-specific CRM to take notes and record calls
Productivity best practices tell us to make sure to capture ideas and follow-up tasks in the moment they occur. That way they don’t get forgotten. Rather than scribble notes on a scrap of paper, input them into your CRM. Attach them to the relevant client file so they are easy to find later. Create the tasks necessary for follow-up and assign them to the relevant staff member. You will save time you would have spent searching for your notes, and your productivity will improve because your great ideas won’t slip through the cracks.
Tip #8: Utilize technology to free yourself from the office
Today’s technology enables advisors to work anywhere, anytime. If you haven’t already made the leap, you can save time and work more efficiently by transitioning to a cloud-based CRM. It will allow you to access your client data and find solutions for clients wherever and whenever you meet them. Also, going paperless with a digital practice will make you more efficient while doing good for the environment.
Improved productivity starts with clarity at a high level about what you want from your business. Once you have determined your focus you can implement time management and productivity strategies like time-blocking, technology adoption, and comprehensive documentation to find more hours in the day, and make each one of them worth more to your business.