“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” — William Penn
Time—how do top advisors use it? How much time do they spend on specific areas like client contact or creating financial plans? See the breakdown and learn three classic methods for getting more done every day.
Be on time, be disciplined, and be in control of your business and your life.
Planning and structuring the use of your time will provide efficient and effective use of that most valuable and precious asset. Here we outline three fundamental tools for structuring your day and optimizing the characteristics that drive your success. It will take a bit of discipline for these tools to become regular habits and prove their effectiveness, so give it a little time. Soon you may appreciate the value they bring to your business.
These are three simple tools you can use to do a better job of managing your business:
1. Time blocking
With time blocking, you divide your day into chunks of time dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of tasks, and only those specific tasks. Instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things you’ll get to as you’re able, you’ll start each day with a concrete schedule that lays out what you’ll work on and when.
Calculating how much time to allot
As a student of management and a realist, I learned years ago not to try and put 10 pounds of stuff into a five-pound bag. Your schedule can only hold so much.
For example, let’s look at a client contact management model, given three variables:
You can easily calculate the amount of time per week required to make all meetings and calls. To paraphrase a cola ad, things go better with a plan.
You choose the days and times you will use for making these contacts, but the discipline is about executing the plan as scheduled (except for unusual circumstances) and sticking to the time budget. If one looks at the cost (time value) of a $500K producer, it’s $250/hour. With an annual client contact commitment of, say, 10 hours for A-level clients, costs per client would be $2,500 just for that proactive client contact.
To illustrate, let’s assume the following for each tier or segment:
Total hours =
850 divided by 48 working weeks/year = About 18 hours/week for scheduled, proactive client contact
For illustration, let’s say you allot 75% of the time for meetings and 25% for telephone check-in calls. You would block 13.5 hours/week for meetings and 4.5 hours/week for check-in calls, at whatever slots in the week work for you.
Annual breakdown of an advisor’s work hours
A similar process would be used for each major activity an advisor engages in. I estimate that on average, lead advisors use their time as follows.
Business planning—1% of time or 20 hours/year. Annual and quarterly
Relationship management—50%. Includes meetings, other contacts, life and financial planning and the other elements important to relationships that are in your service model.
Business development—20%-25%. Includes introductions from clients, introductions from COIs, educational sessions, other.
Practice management—10%. Includes oversight of your teams work and communications with external personnel, e.g., management, wholesalers and others.
Cleaning up messes. This is variable so it is not blocked, and it’s often done after hours.
I also always include two periods a day for reviewing emails and returning calls. I suggest a period at the beginning and end of each day and not reacting to emails and calls at other times during the day. Your assistant can handle calls that require immediate attention and interrupt you if and when needed.
2. Listing your 6 most important things
This is a simple concept but like many concepts it is not easy and requires discipline. This helps you make it a habit to do the most productive thing you can at every given moment. At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you must do the next day in order of priority and then follow that list in order. I also suggest noting during the day what else you work on, including non-work-related items.
Examples of these activities could include, but are not limited to:
Note that each of these activities fit into the five primary lead FA functions outlined earlier.
3. Tracking metrics
Tracking metrics lets you improve overall results and align your people and processes with your businesses objectives and your financial performance. Tracking provides an actionable way to achieve overall business strategies and goals as well as assigning accountability.
An effective set of metrics can include (1) the set of actions designed to produce results, (2) the results themselves that focus on your goals, and potentially (3) the core set of attitudes associated with both.
I suggest three parts in a metrics scorecard:
Time log. As a recovering industrial engineer, I have often used time logs to gather more detailed understanding of various activities and functions. This is a very tedious method; it is time-consuming and often not something that people care to do.
Today there are apps that can help (e.g., Clockify) but it still requires detailing each step or task in a process and gathering the time and effort to execute each task in the process to the appropriate level, and who executed the task. Think about the multiple steps in a comprehensive financial planning process and you can get a sense of the effort this level of tracking would take.
Parkinson’s law says, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I suggest the corollary is also true: “Work contracts if the time available for its completion is contained and metrics are incorporated to ensure its effectiveness.”
Time blocking, identifying your six most important things daily, and establishing action and results metrics will set you up for efficient and effective execution of your most irreplaceable asset, your time. More time means more opportunities for client service and new client acquisition.
David Leo is the founder of Street Smart Research Group LLC. He is an author, speaker, coach, consultant and trainer to financial professionals. David is an experienced business manager who works solely with financial advisors, planners and firms who want to organize, structure and grow their businesses by attracting, servicing, and retaining affluent clients. Contact him at David@CoachDavidLeo.com or call 212-598-4229.