Financial advisers in small and medium-sized firms are frequently overwhelmed by all the things they must get done. It is what Investor News (IN) calls the "adviser's curse." "It's the curse of feeling like you have to do everything yourself," IN said. "It's the curse of wanting to be in control of everything all the time because you don't believe anybody can do what you do as well as you can."
As a result, according to analysts at Independent Financial Partners (IFP), "advisors spend 22.1 hours [per week] on administrative and back-office tasks, accounting for 41.4 percent of the typical 53.3-hour advisor workweek."
That is three full business days!
Financial Advisors Doing More Administrative Tasks
Where does the time go? The administrative and back-office tasks advisors do themselves include:
- Scheduling meetings with clients.
- Prospecting new clients.
- Email management.
- Planning travel and filing expense reports.
- CRM data entry and contact management.
- Preparing documents for client meetings.
Technology has created the expectation that executives should be self-sufficient and do their admin work. Financial advisors are no exception. Executive assistants have all but vanished from most businesses—there are 65 percent fewer executive assistant roles in the U.S. than there were in 2004, for example. In today's talent shortage, job site Lensa found that administrative assistants are among the three most challenging roles to fill (just behind software developers).
Financial Advisors Delegate to Assistants
"Time is arguably the most valuable asset one holds," said IFA said. "To help advisors free up some much-needed time, we've compiled the five top time wasters hindering financial advisors from growing their practice." In-person client meetings with long travel times top the list.
Coming in at number two, "administrative and back-office tasks."
"Find ways to automate, delegate or outsource" these functions, the IFA advised. "Leverage innovative technologies to automate as much of your business as possible, delegate teachable, repetitive tasks," and "join the wave of advisors outsourcing parts of their business."
IN recommends a three-step process for identifying what tasks you should offload to others:
- Write down everything you do in a week—everything. Write it down if you get in at 8 a.m. and brew coffee.
- Next, look at that list. How many of those activities are worth your time? How many would you say fall within one of your core strengths? How many do you enjoy doing?
- Weigh the value of each task by your hourly rate. "If you bill at $250 an hour and making coffee is on your list, for $250 an hour, it must be the best cup of coffee ever made."
- Use your list to identify all the items you should not do. This is your delegation list.
Then, delegate to an assistant.
"Do realize, it may take you three to five times as long to train them on the task as opposed to you just doing it yourself," IN said. "But the goal here is to train them so well that you never have to be involved in the process ever again."
Outsourcing Admin Moving to Mid-Market Firms
Consider outsourcing if you do not have an assistant available to offload tasks. "Outsourcing is a favorite strategy of Fortune 500 companies, who often operate their shared service centers to streamline operations and enable their team members to zero in on their primary strengths," financial consultancy Auxis said. "But in recent years, there's been rising interest from middle-market companies that realize outsourcing non-value-added operations gives them an edge in today's fiercely competitive, global business environment by freeing up the time and financial resources they need to focus on their core competencies."
Payment processing firm company Ascendant found its growth stifled by its executives spending too much time on administrative work. Tasks like data entry, email outreach, scheduling meetings, and reporting were eating up hours every day. Ascendant turned to remote virtual assistants to:
- Schedule meetings.
- Prospect based on buyer persona criteria.
- Building lists and emailing prospects.
- Following up on leads.
- Entering and updating contact data in the CRM.
Virtual assistants also pull regular financial statements from the CRM and other sources, format them in templates and deliver them to the executive team.
Ascendant turned to a managed virtual assistant service to offload their administrative and back-office tasks. The service provider hires, trains, supervises the assistants and provides trained backup support for continuity. The management takes you out of the role that IN said could take up so much of your time—training and documenting processes so you can fully delegate tasks.
Delegating administrative tasks, internally or by outsourcing, empower advisors to "manage fewer accounts" and "create deeper relationships with the client," RIA data firm Terrapin said. This "allows advisors to build specialized roles and responsibilities, thereby delivering broader and deeper advice to clients with more complex financial needs."
"The adviser's curse is one of the biggest reasons adviser businesses stop growing and get stuck on a plateau," IN said. "Because when an adviser refuses to delegate, he eventually runs out of hours in the day." Do not let this happen to you!
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.