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Streamlining a practice with the 4D approach

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Wish you had more time to spend with clients?

I had the same problem and solved it with my 4D approach. Maybe it can work for you, too.


Much of what you’re doing probably doesn’t have to be done. You only think it does. If you don’t do many tasks, no one will notice or care, so, take that task and dump it.


Obviously, there are some things you can’t dump. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be done right away. Often you can delay certain things.

I’ve learned to put things off for a while. Often they resolve themselves, or the issue somehow vaporizes, and no one notices or cares. Delay is a wonderful thing.


Even though I’m a big fan of procrastination, some tasks must be done immediately; delay is not always acceptable. But just because something has to be done right now doesn’t mean it has to be done by you. You must delegate.

If you think, “There’s no one else who can do this,” that’s your cue to start hiring. That’s why my firm now has 500 employees. My wife and I certainly didn’t start out thinking we’d hire hundreds of people. But we soon discovered that there was more work than we could handle, that much of the work could be done as well by others, and that our doing the work was preventing us from seeing more clients, thus limiting our ability to grow.

So we hired people to handle the office, IT, HR, operations, marketing, accounting/finance and compliance. I bet that you’re still doing most or all of these yourself. That’s why your practice isn’t as big as mine: You’re not letting yours grow.

We didn’t suddenly hire 500 people, of course. It’s been an evolutionary process over the past 27 years. Still, it’s how we got to 120 advisors serving 28,000 clients and managing about $15 billion as of Sept. 30.


After you dump, delay and delegate, you’re left with tasks that must be done now, and which only you can do.

So get on with it. You’ll discover you’re spending time almost entirely with clients, and that’s how your practice can grow.

So if your top complaint is a lack of time to spend with your clients, develop a 4D practice, or join a firm that has one in place for you.

Ric Edelman is chairman and chief executive of Edelman Financial Services LLC, a registered investment advisor. He is an investment advisor representative who offers advisory services through EFS and a registered principal of (and offers securities through) Sanders Morris Harris Inc., an affiliated broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/RicEdelman or on Facebook at facebook.com/RicEdelman. Follow him on Twitter at @RicEdelman.

This story is part of a 30-day series on how to prosper as an advisor.

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