As a financial advisor, you juggle many tasks – daily. But some tasks are more important than others. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of financial advisors – and here’s a list of 7 critical items they make sure to check off their to-do lists each day.
1) Prospect.The day’s not complete if you haven’t picked up the phone and called someone on your target list. Because if your business isn’t growing, it’s probably contracting. Maybe you’ve got a list of people you’ve spoken to in the past who weren’t interested – or who weren’t ready to commit. Maybe you were introduced at a social gathering or by a mutual friend. Now’s a great time to follow-up and see if they’d like to meet with you for a complimentary review. You also can follow-up with strategic allies to talk about helping their clients. The best advisors block out time for prospecting every day – ideally in activities, you enjoy such as taking people to lunch, attending networking events, hosting educational workshops or giving speeches. Always have a pipeline full of potential clients. One advisor I spoke to a while back set a goal to prospect 500 hours annually – which translated to at least two hours per day. Prospecting is truly the engine of your business – and a daily essential.
2) Talk to clients. While on the hunt for new prospects, you also must dedicate yourself to communicating with and serving existing clients. Servicing clients (as well as preparing for client meetings) may take up as much as 1,200 hours per year or five hours a day! But meeting with your clients and delivering consistent service can make prospecting that much easier. Because your “A-rated product” can sell itself. If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of meeting with all your clients or have let that aspect of your business slide, figure out how many A and B clients you have, and put together a service matrix. (For a sample client service matrix used successfully by an advisory team in New York, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
3) Conducting due diligence on the market, money managers or the economy is probably something you want to do every day but find easy to push to the side during your hectic day. One advisor told me he likes to do his research and portfolio monitoring at night – to avoid distractions, and to make sure that he stayed ahead of the commentary the next day. Another advisor kept a reading file in her briefcase to peruse while waiting for appointments. Even if you don’t run individual portfolios for your clients, you should devote time to manage research and making sense of the markets and economic news. Develop a narrative that can enlighten clients about a possible downturn or geopolitical development.
4) Do paperwork. It’s a fact of life that you have to spend time on compliance and other paperwork issues. In addition to delegating as much as you can, try blocking out a half hour or more each day to finish off paperwork tasks.
5) Review clients’ estate plans. One advisor I talked to said that he spends time daily reviewing his clients’ estate plans, rechecking beneficiaries, and updating the plan to reflect any known changes in his clients’ lives. He stays on top of estate tax exemption levels as well as home and business valuations, coordinating with the client’s CPA when needed. The more clients’ lives changes, the more you need to stay on top of their situation – especially as life events can precipitate the need for changes in insurance levels and revised legal documents.
6) Think about the future of your business. Not only should you plan each day’s activities but you should think about how your business is growing – and what challenges/opportunities might lie ahead. One major opportunity is getting to know the children of your clients. As your existing clients pass on, you will need to already have a relationship with their heirs. As you take a few minutes each day to think about the future, think about your future clients, as well – and make a goal to connect with them.
7) Be grateful. Gratitude may seem like something you could skip – but scientific studies actually show grateful people are happier, healthier, sleep better – and able to cultivate a larger volume of positive relationships. (Isn’t that what you’re trying to do as a financial advisor?) One advisor starts his day taking a few moments to be grateful for his life, his clients, his team – and walks around the office greeting his staff and expressing his positive vibe. Another advisor makes sure he ends each day writing a thank you note to a client or a friend or a someone who made a difference in his life.