Increase efficiency by delegating

Most financial advisors face one or both of these challenges as their business grows:

  • Getting in front of enough qualified prospects
  • Building and working with staff that can support their growth

While many of the advisors and agents who have reached out to me over the years have been looking for help with the first of these, increasingly I find myself talking with advisors who have more business than they can handle. Yet, they can’t get enough production out of their assistant or team, which caps their growth.

They end up disappointed and doing the work the assistant should be doing. Applications are not prepared, money isn’t moved, and tasks like filing a change of beneficiary form get pushed off until they’re five weeks behind.

If you have business opportunities that are on hold because you’re doing the paperwork, follow-up, appointment setting with existing clients, marketing or anything else that could be done by someone else, you’re depriving yourself of the opportunity to grow your business.

But how do you delegate these other tasks in a way that ensures they will be done right and on time?

Stop expecting and being disappointed. Make clear agreements instead.

Management by expectation will almost always lead to disappointment. If you’re expecting that a task will be given priority, but your assistant doesn’t know that, this can result in disappointment. They won’t understand the urgency of this task and so will fail to give it the expected priority.

Often, I’ll hear an advisor say, “It’s just common sense that this needed to be done first.” My usual reply is that there is no such thing as common sense. Your sense may have been that this item should have been given priority. Their sense was that they already had priority tasks, and this just was meant to be added to the pile.

When you delegate to a staff member, take these steps:

  1. Explain what you want, when you want it by, and when and how you want progress reported to you.
  2. Ask what might be in the way of that happening.
  3. Ask if there’s anything they need to complete the task as explained, including anything they need from you.
  4. Ask if they will agree to the terms of the assignment.

When you have an expectation, there can be reasons that what you wanted doesn’t come in the time frame and in the form in which you wanted it. When there’s an explicit agreement, however, failure to give you what you want is a breach of that agreement. It rises to a much higher level of importance to your team and is more likely to be done in the way — and in the time frame — you were hoping for.

You’ll also want to calendar your own follow-up so that the task doesn’t fall through the cracks. And it may help you to have your assistant email you to confirm the details of the assignment.

Expectations lead to disappointments. Agreements get the work done.

Sandy Schussel is a performance acceleration coach who has been working with financial advisors for more than 20 years, helping them break through to higher production levels.

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