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Are You Maximizing Your ROT (Return on Time)?

Do you ever feel like you are living your life by a checklist? Do you feel like you are constantly running from one activity to the next and that there is so much more to do? How often do you find yourself asking, “When did life become so chaotic?”

We feel that time is the most precious commodity of today. With an increase in industry regulations and administrative requirements, financial professionals are finding that they are spending too much time doing the wrong activities. How wise are your choices on where you expend your time? Are you allowing yourself to be held hostage to the reactive? Below we provide some basic best practice reminders to help increase your return on time.

  1. Build a team to complement your abilities so that you can focus on what you do best and assign all other responsibilities according to the natural strengths of others.
  2. Learn how to fully utilize your technology resources to create capacity.
  3. Do, delegate, delete. For each daily task, consider whether it is something that you actually need to do, something that you should delegate or something that you can delete as it has no bearing on your goals.
  4. Utilize a priority system so that no task is ever assigned without a deadline attached to it. This helps all associates understand levels of urgency and better balance daily activities.
  5. Proactively block to create a balanced calendar. It is important to allocate time to all essential business functions such as prospecting, client management, planning, team management, continuing education and so on. Don’t let an area of your business suffer by ignoring it.
  6. Making a commitment to creating, documenting and utilizing processes so that every repeated activity is executed in the same way every time will substantially impact efficiency.
  7. Identify time wasters. Conduct a time study on where your time is spent so that you can identify what (and in some cases, who) tends to drain your time. Determine the best course of action to take back control of your time and set parameters and expectations to better manage these situations.
  8. Consistently execute effective team communication. When communication falters, errors and frustrations increase and a vast amount of time is wasted.
  9. Maintain an organized client base. Segmenting your clientele based on each relationship’s value to your business helps to create scalability to efficiently drive client deliverables.
  10. Train your clients. Help them understand what to expect from the practice, when to expect it and the roles of each team member. Set realistic expectations for your team to respond to your clients’ needs.

How each associate chooses to utilize time will dramatically impact your results. Review each of the practices above with your team and gain specific commitments. If you are looking to grow your business, you must make wise decisions every day. There should be no excuses and no procrastination, but rather an ongoing commitment to consistently and proactively manage your time. What is your ROT?

Sarah E. Dale, President of Know No Bounds, LLC

Sarah E. Dale
Partner
Performance Insights
Atlanta, Ga.

 

krista_smKrista S. Sheets
President
Performance Insights
Atlanta, Ga.


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Create Time Budgets to Produce Results

An adviser’s time is precious. For each available work hour, there are countless ways to consume it, and with each hour productively applied, the adviser and his or her business prospers. However, advisers are not machines that can simply be programmed for completing tasks. There is a person at hand, a person with talents, skills, histories, ambitions and preferences.

Professional services firms connect an adviser’s work effort (see the blog “Your Product is You”) to the business. Essentially, the adviser and the business become one.

Important Business Work
An adviser’s direct client service—the firm’s product—can be captured within the broad categories of wealth and investment planning such that a client’s plan leads to investment execution. Advisers trained for these specialties find these activities intellectually appealing and personally fulfilling; it is a pleasure to do this work.

The business connection to these services arrives when a client pays the fee and the firm’s revenue increases. So far, so good.

A vibrant operating business requires much more than service delivery. Sales calls must be made to fill a sales pipeline; client reports must be produced; bills must be paid; employees hired, managed and nurtured; technology vendors evaluated and selected; investment research conducted; compliance requirements completed.

This list comprises many important activities that many advisers do not like to do. They are chores and are often held in limbo due to procrastination or even neglect.

Budgeting Time for Business Advancement

Like a financial budget that allocates limited monetary resources to the most important priorities, a time budget ensures that a business’s essential tasks are completed on time and within the optimal operating range. Tasks are linked together in order for efficient use of every employee’s time. Greater efficiency means less time on a task, and this is a worthy trade-off for important tasks, but those that are not personally fulfilling.

How a Time Budget Works
Foremost, a time budget is a planning document that considers specific allocations of time (i.e. a time block) according to business priorities, job responsibilities and task sequence. While similar to a project plan, a time budget integrates a person’s assigned tasks into a single view based on a rolling week-to-week evolution.

A time budget is not for regimentation but to be a guide as executed using these steps:

  1. While formal tools are available, an Excel or Word table suffices. Or, your CRM can be used to schedule activities through the workflow function.
  2. Divide the rows into one-hour time blocks and the columns into the days of the week.
  3. List the week’s tasks to be completed keeping in mind these parameters: tasks related to the firm’s strategic and operational priorities need to be given precedence.
  4. Batch related activities together.
  5. Without considering whether a task is loved or hated, ask yourself this question: what is the best time for this task to be completed optimally? For example, schedule sales and client service activities for the peak periods in the day. Place planning tasks at the beginning of the week (for assignment) and the end (for reflection).
  6. Place each task into its best time block day by day.
  7. For unappealing tasks, spread out the work over several consecutive days in order to have bursts of focus and avoid drudgery.
  8. Important tasks are scheduled when execution will be crispest such as in the morning or the beginning of the week.

Connecting Time Budgets
At the end of each week, evaluate the results from the time budget with these thoughts in mind:

  • If a task wasn’t completed, determine if it was from procrastination, interruptions or insufficient allocated time.
  • For repeating tasks week to week, consider if the results could have been better if allocated to a different time block.
  • For the next time budget, experiment with different sequences and time periods.
  • At the end of each month, compare the previous weeks’ time budgets and summarize the results achieved and the nuggets of learning.
  • Take the monthly summaries and use them with the chain of command for the next period’s business planning as well as employee reviews.

Time Budget Warnings
A time budget is a guide to reinforce results (good behaviors) and to inform about weak spots (procrastination).

Few things are more satisfying than looking into the rearview mirror of a year’s set of time budgets and seeing significant business results, on-time delivery, improved efficiency, personal growth and the absence of regret.

Kirk Loury

Kirk Loury
President
Wealth Planning Consulting Inc.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey