Time Squeeze - Business Management for Financial Advisers

Advisor Impact, a practice-management consulting firm in Toronto, did a study of the practice-management behaviors of financial advisers. In a question examining where the typical adviser spends his or her time, the results showed that only 39 percent of advisers’ time is spent on client service. The rest of their time is spent on other tasks, like business processing and administration.

One reason time is so elusive for many advisers is that they’re doing things they shouldn’t be doing and have no one to whom to delegate work. Even those who put adequate staff in place may maintain a death grip on the processes and on the client relationships because they’re not comfortable relinquishing control.

With his highly successful Strategic Coach process, Dan Sullivan has introduced many advisers to the concept of focusing on their unique abilities. But it’s hard for anyone to give up what’s comfortable and familiar and delegate appropriate work to others. Complicating time management, of course, is the general anxiety that small-business owners experience in not taking every piece of business that comes in the door.

But one adviser can handle only a finite number of clients. Our studies show that advisers who call themselves wealth managers—meaning they deal with myriad complex issues beyond investment strategy and implementation—can handle no more than sixty to ninety active client relationships. But if only 39 percent of their time is available to spend on client management, how many clients can they handle effectively?

The combination of client selection, process improvement, and effective delegation will mitigate the time-squeeze problem, but having the courage to live by such discipline is another matter. Service businesses have only two things to sell: expertise and time. But when time is not properly managed, it’s like watching your inventory walk out the door.

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