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10 Productivity Tips for Financial Planning Practices

Jeremi Karnell
Jan 12, 2017
The financial planning industry is more competitive than ever before. A growing number of financial firms are competing for a limited number of clients, making customer service and quality investment advice more important than ever before.

If you want your firm to be successful, you need to focus on productivity as well as customer service. By making each financial advisor more productive, you enhance the productivity of the entire firm. That frees up more time for investment research, client outreach, and other revenue-generating activities, boosting your profits and helping you get more done.

Productivity gains do not just happen. They must be carefully planned. Identifying common time wasters and urging individual financial planners to focus on the most important tasks will boost the productivity of the entire firm and help you achieve the best results. Here are ten practical productivity tips every financial professional can use.

#1. Be Smart About Email

Email may be a great communication tool, but it can also be a huge time waster. The average financial advisor sees nearly 150 emails in an average day, and simply opening, reading and responding to those queries could destroy several productive hours.

One way to stop the bleeding is to authorize administrative personnel to review incoming messages and flag the most important. Instead of dealing with 150 emails a day, the advisor can focus on the handful of critical messages.

#2. Create a New Client FAQ

Many financial advisors find themselves answering the same set of questions every time a new client comes on board. From how to calculate stock and bond allocations to how to prepare for tax season, those questions are standard for most clients.

Instead of wasting time answering the same inquiries over and over again, financial planners can create a new client FAQ. Preemptively answering client questions is excellent customer service and an excellent way to boost productivity.

#3. Enhance Productivity with Time Blocking

It is easy to let unrelated tasks sap your productivity, so fight back with time blocking. Instead of taking each task as it comes, set aside a specific number of minutes for client outreach, proactive research, reading, email and meetings.

Time blocking can be quite an effective strategy, and implementing it is easier than you think. It will take dedication to keeping your time blocks intact, but you will find your days are much more productive.

#4. Keep Meetings Short and Sweet

Meetings are essential in the financial planning industry, but you do not have to let them sap your productivity and waste your precious time. You may not be able to dispense with meetings altogether, but you can make your meeting time more productive.

Start by setting a firm timeline for each meeting, and stick to that time limit. Avoid sideline conversations that can extend the meeting time and sap your productivity. Insisting that attendees follow up via email or other official channels is one of the best ways to keep your meetings short and sweet.

#5. Set Aside Time for Reading and Research

Reading and research are invaluable tools for financial professionals, but it is all too easy to get sucked down an online rabbit hole. What started as a single piece of research or the latest market news quickly devolves into a series of clicks, each one less relevant than the last.

Instead of falling victim to this productivity trap, set aside a limited amount of time for daily research. This time limit will force you to focus on what is most important, without the sideline trips into irrelevance.

#6. Protect Your Good Health

Even the best financial planner will not be very productive if they are sick at home nursing the flu or recovering from a nasty infection. A healthy workforce is a productive workforce, so give your financial advisors incentives that encourage wellness and discourage harmful habits.

From company-paid smoking cessation programs to lower insurance rates in exchange for a yearly flu shot and health screening, there are things you can do to foster a healthier and more productive workplace. You may not be able to banish illness entirely, but you can reduce the number of costly sick days.

#7. Educate Yourself

It is easy for financial planners to get caught up in the daily minutia of client service and investment research, but it is important not to fall into that trap. A well-educated and proactive workforce is essential for the success of any financial planning firm, so create incentives for the continuing education of your advisors.

Prioritizing education can make your financial advisors more productive, and the knowledge they gain will directly benefit their clients and the firm as a whole. From single-day seminars to week-long courses about upcoming regulations, time spent in the classroom is a direct investment in the future.

#8. Block Out Distractions

Sometimes you just have to shut the door and block out all distractions. Financial research and education takes concentration, and eliminating distractions, even temporarily, will make your financial advisors more productive.

As the owner of the firm, you can encourage concentration through the setup of your office. Giving each financial advisor their private office is a good start and it will make confidential client communication easier as well.

#9. Use Technology to Take Notes and Jot Down Your Thoughts

Taking notes and jotting down random thoughts can be a real boon to productivity, but there is no need to get out your pen and paper. Just use the record function on your smartphone or a note taking app to make your days more productive.

Note taking is one area where technology can improve productivity. Recording your thoughts can help you organize your day and make the most of your time at the office.

#10. Focus on the Big Picture

If you want your financial advisors to be more productive, ask them to focus on the big picture. Teach them to ask themselves how every action they take, from answering email to creating client education documents, serves the interests of the firm.

This focus on big picture thinking can aid productivity in some ways. The tight focus can eliminate time wasters and nonproductive tasks and encourage individual advisors to concentrate on the things that are most important.

Enhancing productivity is not always easy in the financial industry. With so many moving parts and so many clients to serve, just getting it all done can be a real struggle. Focusing on the productivity of each advisor is good for everyone, from the owner of the firm to the clients themselves.

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