Time management and how to select a winning team

One of the most important decisions most financial advisors make is when and how to add a staff person or build a team. This is a decision that is usually made when an advisor’s activity and productivity have reached a point of critical mass. The advisor feels like they’re spread too thin and both their work and personal life are suffering.

Your time is being divided between prospecting for new clients, moving new business through your process and servicing your existing clients. There is only so much time in the day. How can you possibly live a Whole Person life, or have work-life balance, without letting one of these balls drop?

The answer is hiring help. A staff person or assistant will be an expense but the benefit to both your productivity and your work-life balance will be well worth it. You may even be able to share a staff person within your agency or pay by the hour for support from a pool. Partnering with a junior financial advisor might be a good way to get some support while providing that advisor with valuable experience as well.

As you begin to plan for adding staff or partnering with another financial advisor, here are some simple steps that you can take to make good decisions about hiring or partnering:

Step 1: Make a list on an Excel spreadsheet of all the tasks, activities and actions you perform each day. Be very thorough and include everything!

Step 2: Divide the list into personal and professional areas.

Step 3: For one week, create a classic time management study by keeping track of your time by quarter-hour blocks on the spreadsheet. Be disciplined and honest with yourself, otherwise, the data will be useless to you.

Step 4: At the end of the weeklong data collection exercise, evaluate the results. Remember there is no emotional judgment. This is objective data, but it can teach you much about your activities and the most valuable resource in the world — time!

Step 5: Take the highest amount of time categories and evaluate them according to this rubric:

  • Incompetent — These are the things you are doing where you make a lot of mistakes and there are a lot of do-overs.
  • Competent — These are the things that you can do but which are drudgery for you and drain your energy, however, they are necessary to do.
  • Capable — These are things you can and probably should do because they rely upon your specific knowledge or your licenses.
  • Strengths — These are the things that excite you and inspire your creativity and motivation. You could do these things all day long and never get bored or tired! 

Step 6: Write a job description around those areas where you are incompetent or competent. Use this job description as a tool for posting the job online or in your office. It will become the centerpiece of your hiring interviews or partnering conversations and agreements.

In addition to helping you hire or partner with the right people, this is a good personal observation tool that you can repeatedly use to monitor your time and evaluate its effectiveness.

The goal is to build an organization that supports your strengths and allows you to spend 80% of your professional time doing what you excel in, which maximizes your productivity. This will also create more personal free time by adding to your energy and allowing you to live a more balanced life.

Thomas Levasseur, of Dover, New Hampshire, USA, is a 33-year MDRT member and a Court of the Table member.

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