This article is the second in a six-part series on best practices for wealth advisors. You can read the previous column, “Unlimited Clients: From Referral Prospecting to Referral Mining” here.
Time is the greatest impediment to growth that a one-person business will ever know.
Running any business is hard. Running one by yourself is demanding and draining. There’s never enough time to get everything done. Eventually all business owners, including financial advisors, face the daunting task of delegating.
The financial advisor doesn’t see it that way. They think they’re handing off their baby to an utter stranger. That sounds like a lot of fear. And it is. But fear can always be overcome.
Delegating can be rewarding, when done properly. You can delegate and grow. You need to delegate to grow. The key is in the details.
The key isn’t to look at where you spend most your time. Hopefully you spend most your time in front of clients. That’s your job. That’s not the place to start.
Why Delegating Tasks is Important
The key is to look where you spend time working below your capabilities.
That’s the essence of an easily delegable task: one that takes your time, yet could be accomplished by someone else without excessive training.
Think data entry, answering calls, routine correspondence. These things don’t just chew at your time. They devour it.
There’s a compounding effect. When you stop doing the important task you’re doing to answer a call confirming a meeting, or some other important yet trivial matter, you’re distracted.
You don’t just lose the time for the call; you lose several times the time for the call. Interruptions are the enemy of production. Yet they’re key to great service. Someone needs to do this stuff. That someone doesn’t need to be you.
What, exactly, you should delegate is a function of your practice and your regulatory environment. Some stuff you can delegate, others you can’t. If the task needs to be done by a licensed person and you’re the only licensed person, then you need to do it.
Determining Which Tasks to Delegate
Some task are critical tasks and some are supportive tasks. Critical tasks are those that have to be done a certain way and have to be done in a certain order for you to conduct your business.
These tasks can be delegated to an appropriately trained and experienced person, but they’re not where you start.
Other task are supportive tasks. They need to be done. It helps if they’re done in a timely fashion. Filing is an example of a supportive task. Needs to be done, helps to be done in a timely fashion. Perfectly delegable.
People generally encounter two major roadblocks on their path to delegation.
One is the desire to unload the undesirable tasks. Perhaps you don’t care to phone prospects and convert them to clients. Perhaps you find this undesirable. This is a key task to your business.
You may ultimately be able to delegate this, but you’re going to need someone special, very special, to do this task. You can’t take a task that has to be done as effectively as possible and delegate it to an inexperienced person and expect good results.
Focusing on Growth
Remember why you’re doing this. You need to get control of your practice so you can grow or take time off or both.
Delegating a task that hurts the growth of your practice doesn’t move you toward your goal.
You can eventually move any undesirable task off your plate. But not any task at the start.
Let’s go to problem number two: perfectionism. Over 90 percent of financial advisors see a perfectionist looking back at them in the mirror each morning. Perfectionism is a multifaceted problem.
Perfection is a time thief all its own. Very good takes a bit of time; perfect takes a lot more. Which leads us to perfectionism’s conundrum.
You spend a lot of time creating perfect work — but perfect doesn’t exist. Perfect is a subjective concept. Your perfect is someone else’s extremely good, perhaps their very good. Their perfect is your very good. There’s no consensus as to perfect, especially in a service business.
Very good is objective. We can rate and agree on very good. The smallest detail doesn’t need to harm very good, yet it ruins perfect. Perfectionism needs to go.
Perfectionism is a roadblock to delegation because no one else can do it perfectly like you do. Remember perfectly only exists with the modifier of like you do.
Let go of perfection and embrace very good. Your clients thought your work was very good and they’ll still think so. The only one who can find a difference between your very good and your perfect is you.
All that time you put into perfect is really only for yourself. And a shrink might link it to some childhood-based insecurity or some such thing. Drop it like the problem it is.
Configuring Your Team
Delegable tasks may be front-facing, involving direct contact with clients. Your delegee becomes the face of your business.
It behooves you to consider this when selecting personnel for any front-facing positions. They’re ambassadors of your brand.
Their grammar and hygiene and other traits are inseparable from your reputation. If you want to be perceived as a professional, you’ll want to have professional help.
Many advisors want to keep costs to a minimum, which is understandable. But don’t save pennies to tarnish your brand, which will cost big dollars. That’s not a value enhancing proposition.
If you share office space with other advisors, shared staff may be a way to start. Sharing staff can have its own problems, but it can be a great bridge to ultimately having staff of your own.
The Bottom Line
Finding and training the right person, and ultimately the right people, will take time.
It’s an investment into your practice and an investment into your future.
Move forward thoughtfully and cautiously. But move forward. The largest impediment to the growth of your practice is the first impediment you should remove.
This article is the second in a six-part series on best practices for wealth advisors. You can read the next entry, “Building Trust With Clients and Prospects” here.