Slideshow Time Management & Productivity: 10 Smart Tips

  • April 28 2014, 7:34am EDT
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Time Management & Productivity: 10 Smart Tips

Many financial advisors struggle to gain control of their time and business activity, according to a recent study by the FPA Research and Practice Institute finds. Out of 750 professionals across the country who took part in the FPA study, just 13% of advisors felt like they had complete control over their time.

Why that matters: Having more control over your business is key to improving both capacity and profitability for your firm.

The study identified several important habits and behaviors that set apart the advisors who felt in control from the rest of their peers. Read this story as one-page list here, or click through to see several of the ways in which advisors effectively manage their time and productivity. -- Kayan Lim

Images: Thinkstock

1. Know Your Firm's Goals ...

To be productive, you need have clear ideas and goals to guide you. This is the starting point for improved time management and productivity: When advisors know where they are headed and what they are trying to accomplish, they can make decisions that increase their efficiency.

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2. ... And Define Personal Goals

Those advisors who felt more in control were more likely to have defined their personal goals, the FPA found. Having a clear plan for yourself is important because it helps you prioritize by clarifying which activities you should focus your attention on.

3. Have an Effective Business Plan

Only 59% of all advisors said that they had a formal, written business plan in place -- yet those who had a business plan in place were more likely to feel in control than those who didn’t.

An effective business plan incorporates goals for the business and, often, a description of the ideal client experience. Those advisors who felt more in control were more likely to set specific client retention goals and incorporate team roles and responsibilities into the planning process, the FPA found.

4. Carve Out Time to Plan

Setting aside time to plan can help you bridge the gap between a longer-term business plan and the day-to-day operations of your business. While 49% of all advisors spend at least 30 minutes per week planning their schedule, the solo advisors who felt in control were almost much more likely to carve out that half-hour of planning time than their out-of-control peers.

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5. Have a Team

In general, advisors on teams were more likely to feel in control of their businesses. Smaller teams tend to just include administrative staff, but advisors are increasingly hiring other roles, including non-advisor management, the FPA study found.

6. Prioritize Activities

Make a list of the activities that you perform on a weekly basis, and rank them in order of importance to your firm's growth. (Most advisors, for instance, put meeting with clients and prospects on the top of their lists, said the FPA.) Once you know which activities are most important, you can start focusing more of your attention on those.

7. Delegate

After you've prioritized your list of tasks, delegate the ones that are less important to you and your business. Teamed advisors that have greater control are more likely to delegate in the following areas, the FPA said: workflow management, communications plans, and administrative tasks such as business processing, onboarding new accounts and front-line triage and administration.

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8. Set a Schedule

To ensure that priority activities get done, make sure you are scheduling effectively. Although only 28% of advisors said they have a set schedule of tasks and activities, those who do were more likely to say they have greater control.

9. Block Out Your Time

Many advisors try to accommodate clients’ schedules rather than setting defined time blocks for meetings -- but that makes it difficult to control your day. Try instead to block out times during the day for certain types of tasks. One-third of advisors who felt in control block out time to respond to emails; teams who block out time to respond to phone calls also feel more in control.

And be realistic: The average client meeting lasts one hour and the average prospect meeting lasts 75 minutes, so plan accordingly.

10. Use a Time-Tracking CRM

Formal time tracking is another way to assess if your day is fully aligned with your objectives. Although 43% of advisors have a CRM with a time tracking ability, just 17% use it; the usage rate was higher, though, among advisors who felt more in control.