For all those financial advisors who feel like they are struggling with their time management and productivity in the face of an increasingly complex advisory business, there’s good (or at least affirming) news: you are not alone. As the results of the latest FPA Time Management and Productivity Study show, only a mere 13% of advisors report that they feel in complete control of their time, while 3-in-4 advisors are working more than 40 hours a week, and more than 1/3rd are working 50+ hours every week!
So how can advisors regain some control of their time and productivity? The FPA’s research finds that strategies for success are focused around three broad categories: strategic focus, structural efficiency, and personal productivity. The first category is about having a clear plan for where the business is going (and what you want to get out of it personally); the second category is all about process, workflow, and team support; and the key to the last is creating structure to your daily and weekly life to regain control of your schedule. And notably, while many advisors seem to focus on the last two categories, it’s the first that may actually be the most important; in other words, just as with our own clients, it’s hard to implement effective steps to improve our (business or financial) lives if we don’t have a good (business or financial) plan to help guide us where we’re going in the first place!
Ultimately, the FPA research finds that the key to time management is not merely about spending less time in the business, but instead is about spending more time on the right tasks in the business; in fact, advisors “in control” of their time actually schedule significantly more meetings throughout the year – to the tune of another 50 client meetings, 10 prospect meetings, and 5 center-of-influence meetings – and do so by effectively focusing their business, their infrastructure and support, and their personal time, in the direction of those “highest and best use” tasks; the rest are either eliminating with business focus, delegated with team support, or managed with some structure to the day to avoid letting those necessary tasks become overwhelming. For those still struggling to figure out how to make these improvements, the FPA study provides a healthy list of tips and strategies to try to improve your situation. Overall, though, the clear theme of the research is to recognize the simple fact that for advisors, it’s “control your business, or your business will control you.”