Successful firms stand apart from their peers in three key areas:
They have a clear target client; they have efficient systems, such
as for scheduling and delegation; and they reserve time for
Sunit Bhalla, who spoke at a recent National Association of Personal
Financial Advisors conference about better business planning, says
advisers simply need to spend time on the right activities.
A Fort Collins, Colorado-based adviser to engineers and technology
professionals, Bhalla said good planning allows him time for family
and volunteering, and more revenue and profit than he ever imagined.
He said he focused on infrastructure first, putting revenue and
profit aside to invest in technology. He chose software programs,
for example, that integrated well and eliminated most manual data
entry that takes up an adviser’s time.
“I never type a client’s name or Social Security number even once,”
Instead he has clients use an online questionnaire to enter their
personal information. That data is then used to fill out investment,
insurance and advisory forms, as well as his financial planning
software. His account and data aggregation tools, ByAllAccounts and
NetX360, feed the data into his performance reporting software,
"Every morning, I find up-to-date balances in my clients' accounts,
ready for a meeting,” he says.
Richmond, Virginia-based adviser Dave O’Brien calculated that
technology frees up 30 percent of his time. While Bhalla uses his
free time for family, O’Brien uses it to take on more clients,
generating more revenue.
“It also establishes trust when clients see how efficiently I handle
my own business,” O'Brien says.
O'Brien and Bhalla's approach underscores a 2014 study by the
Financial Planning Association showing that the 13 percent of
advisers who report being in control of their time average 50 more
client meetings per year.
[to top of second column]
Debbie Whitlock, a Seattle, Washington-based adviser who recently
sold her firm and now mentors advisers, found that taking time to
plan has been key. In her practice, work stopped 30 minutes early so
everyone could plan out the next day.
“Where we fall apart is waking up and flying by the seat of our
pants,” she says.
Odenton, Maryland-based adviser Jim Ludwick, continually implements
new systems for productivity, which is how he produces annual
revenue in excess of $300,000 without selling products or managing
money, he says.
He also eliminated free consultations because they weren’t
converting into business. He now charges $100 for them, and he said
nine of 10 prospects become clients.
He also shaved time off meetings by using Google Drive, an online
storage tool, so he and his staff can review projects and prospects
together weekly in real time.
Because of his systems, he’ll soon be able to work remotely from
Italy part of the year.
“My life is satisfying,” he says.
(Editing by Tim McLaughlin and Linda Stern)
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