Max Bolka is a 30+ year veteran of the financial services industry who developed and served a nationwide planning and investment clientele. Today he “Builds First-Class Financial Advisors” of all kinds through his dynamic speaking, insightful writing and comprehensive business development mentoring program.
Ever have one of those days where you spend so much time playing tag on the phone, having entire conversations via email, and getting lost on social media and the internet that the entire day was a bust? Could you feel your stress level climb with each non-productive activity you undertook? Did your head start to spin with brain fog as you got further and further away from your to do list for the day?
With so much distraction, dysfunction and noise going on, it’s more important than ever to streamline your practice by systematizing all your processes.
A system means you don’t have to think about it; It’s a no brainer. This saves you time and energy.
It’s documented, it’s trackable, repeatable and delegate-able. Anyone can follow the steps A-Z to get the job done.
When it’s just you, it may be easy to keep it all in your head, although it’s usually still mentally draining. When you add an assistant, you may still use the “Manual Intercom System,” where you shout instructions to each other from room to room all day long.
However, the minute you add a third person, one of you will be left out of most conversations. Hence the need to create and maintain well-documented systems. Doing so from the beginning will also be your best defense when it comes to an audit or lawsuit.
What To Systematize
What should you systematize? All aspects of your business, including:
- Marketing - Automate it. Many Advisors either can’t or won’t do any marketing, no less develop a cohesive marketing plan. The good news is that dozens of low cost/no cost traditional marketing methods are still effective, and technology has evolved to the point of enabling FAs to hire outside digital marketing agencies with end-to-end programs.
- Sales - Know how to qualify, introduce, explain what you do for a living, and close new business in just one meeting. (Yes, it’s possible, really!) The icing on the cake? When you systematize your sales process, you can get pre-qualified referrals who are expecting your call…Guaranteed.
- Client Intake - From the moment your prospect says, “How do we get started?” you need a system for efficiently handling all the paperwork without killing yourself or your new client. Again, proper use of technology can help here. Whether you use DocuSign, LaserApp, or your client signs in person at the office and then you take them to lunch/dinner to celebrate your new relationship, have a system in place for what happens with all that paperwork, including follow up, to make sure it all lands where it’s supposed to.
- Client Service - An extension of #3 above, what happens after your client hires you? Have a plan for the first day, week, month, quarter, six months and one year from now. Think of these as your Deliverables, both tangible and intangible, and have an automated, documented system for tracking and implementing.
- Operations/Admin - Operations usually connects everything else on this list. Document the daily running of your office, from opening to closing. If you don’t write it down and assign responsibility, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t get done.
- HR/Staffing - Have a documented system for hiring, firing, training, supervising, motivating, compensating and incentivizing employees. Good recruiters can do a lot of the heavy lifting and sort through candidates to help you find the right ones. Start with a well defined job description.
- Time Management - All time management is ultimately self-management. Having clearly defined goals, a meaningful mission and a business plan will help manage your time. Also learn personal habits such as how to structure your day for maximum productivity and least amount of stress. And finally, learn how to graciously say, “No thank you” to illegitimate request, and how to handle the multitude of daily interruptions from email, phone and staff.
- Project Management - Once you have a sound list of goals, business and strategic plan, you can begin to chart out the action steps necessary to accomplish your goals weeks and even months in advance. Try for at least 90 days out. This is how successful people get things done.
- Financial Management - Finally, you might be surprised how many Advisors do not keep adequate books. You should have an easy system for tracking all your finances; Everything from where the money comes from (Pipeline/Client Tracker) to a monthly Business and Personal Profit & Lost Statements, to Quarterly Personal Net Worth Statements that track the progress towards your own financial independence.
In most cases, someone has already done exactly what you’d like to accomplish. Templates and help are available. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Whether you do it yourself or seek the help of a professional, systematizing all aspects of your business will save you time, money and energy, and is an essential key to growing your practice.