Everyone follows certain routines in their working lives.
You might have a routine when you first walk into the office. Or when you conduct client meetings. Maybe another when you deliver advice. Routines help us self-manage and make the most of our time at work.
Perform the same routine day-in and day-out, and it becomes a habit.
Good habits, like only checking emails at the top of every hour, keep us productive throughout the day. They also provide a sense of familiarity – an emotional indicator that makes us feel comfortable when performing a task.
But therein lies the problem. Getting too comfortable with your business habits and following the same routine year-after-year can negatively affect your efficiency. That’s how good businesses suffer. Most of the time, we don’t even realize these habits are damaging until performance begins to slip.
So identifying your bad habits early and adjusting your business strategies can clear roadblocks in your way and leave the door open for continued growth.
Neglect your bad habits, and it can be an uphill battle to optimize your performance when there’s no other option.
Consequences of Standing Still
The financial service industry is always evolving. So financial professionals don’t have the luxury of following the same habits to execute their service.
Take the very recent example of the DOL fiduciary rule, which has many advisors rethinking their operations. The processes and habits they’ve followed for years now have to change in order to remain compliant.
Do you think this rule will be the last government regulation to affect your business?
Of course not!
Change is the only constant. You need to remain vigilant to incoming and outgoing trends within the industry and know how well your business stands up to change. Otherwise, you’ll forever play catch-up. Those who aren’t prepared or unwilling to adapt will leave opportunities on the table. Not to mention all the time, clients, and money lost in the process.
So let’s take a look at how you can identify the gaps in your service that could cause you trouble down the road.
Analyze Your Comfort Zone
I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that you know your business inside and out.
Most advisors do. But have you ever formally outlined your workflows or business processes on paper? Or are they simply a set of unspoken rules?
If you haven’t written out your workflows in the past six months, it’s probably time to do so.
“Writing things down” is a common viewpoint shared by leading productivity gurus. The belief is that documenting your processes not only clears your mind to think of new ideas, but it also lets you visualize how you run your business. That’s powerful.
Seeing your workflows and procedures mapped out, step-by-step, you’ll have an easier time identifying the areas you should update. You’ll see what steps slow you down and where you can implement changes.
And once you’ve finished mapping out your workflow, set a goal.
Make business efficiency a tangible idea that you can work toward. Maybe it’s increasing client retention or generating more plans in a week. You preach the importance of goal planning to your clients – and now, you can apply it to your business.
Break Bad Habits
If you’re having trouble identifying the areas of your process that need improvement – ask yourself the questions below. You’ll see that financial technology takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting in your business operations. That leaves you with more time to come up with strategies to reach your end goals.
What part of my process can I automate?
Many advisors find manual data entry and updates tedious. Try looking into aggregation software that can pull client account information, like balances and holdings, into a single platform. That information will then update automatically each night. And some wealth management solutions actually feed a client’s aggregated data into their financial plans so it’s consistently up-to-date.
What tasks can my clients complete on their own?
Speaking of data entry, having clients fill out long, printed fact finding documents in your office eats up your time—and theirs. Instead, look into digital Client Onboarding tools that clients can complete at home or whenever it’s convenient for them. And digital document storage solutions provide a secure environment to share financial statements and important documents between you and your clients in seconds.
What aspects of my business can I enhance or modernize?
Personal financial management (PFM) websites have taken the industry by storm because they give clients anytime, anywhere access to their entire financial pictures. Offering a client-facing PFM portal, branded to your business, gives your clients the digital experience they’ve now come to expect.
Where could I collaborate with my clients more often?
Now more than ever, collaborative planning is important. Look for interactive planning modules that allow you to make real-time adjustments to a client’s financial picture during meetings. They’ll be able to visualize the kind of impact their financial decisions make, and you’ll know instantly how to best serve their needs.
You Got This
Never settle for “good enough.” Operating a business that only gets you from point A to point B means you’re not reaching your full potential. So make changing your habits a habit. Regularly look for ways to improve your business operations and you’ll set yourself up for continued success.