Even in a Crisis, Find the Opportunity

Top advisory firms are focusing on organizational efficiency, time management, and client communications

Advisors and clients alike have felt the impact of the current financial crisis. Weathering the storm depends not only on positioning your businesses and your clients for continuing tough economic conditions, but also on taking advantage of opportunities to refine your business practices. Organizational efficiency, time management, and client communications are areas that advisors should be working on consistently, and are especially important during tough times. Adopting these practices from the most successful advisory firms should be one of your top resolutions for the new year.

Organizational Efficiency

Put simply, efficiency is doing a better job at the actions you are already taking. Utilizing organizational efficiency techniques will improve your ability to focus on the most important parts of your business and give your employees the skills they need to better serve your clients. Most importantly, it will help you maximize your firm's productivity and help you get more with less.

According to a recent Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking survey, most firms (89%) are interested in finding operational efficiencies to boost their productivity. In their quest toward heightened effectiveness, more than half of the advisors surveyed (61%) plan to automate certain functions and tasks, while nearly half of the advisors surveyed (45%) plan to focus on a specific client base and 39% plan to invest in training their employees. Only 11% of advisors surveyed are not planning to make any changes to their existing practice models.

  • Efficiency Tips

    = Automate or outsource routine tasks, if necessary

  • = Spend more time on client service and business development
  • = Leverage your employees' time and invest in training your employees
  • = Examine your client base and narrow your focus to a specific base
  • = Put into place strategic and marketing plans

Time Management

According to AdvisorBenchmarking studies, time management is a challenge for many investment advisors. Some advisors say they are too busy running day-to-day operations to think about strategic planning, but the most successful advisors have made time management an important part of their business practices. When we asked advisors what time management techniques they have time for, prioritizing daily tasks came out ahead (71% of advisors use this technique). Forty-one percent of advisors eliminate non-essential work and 39% delegate or subcontract work in order to give themselves enough time for strategic planning.

Weekly and daily planning are important elements of time management. After setting goals, decide what actions you could take that week to have the largest impact on your practice. Then, when planning the week, schedule those actions first. On a daily basis, following an example like Dr. Stephen R. Covey's time matrix will help you manage your time. First, determine which of the day's tasks are important and which are not. Then, subdivide the "important" list into urgent and nonurgent tasks. In order to reach your goals, you'll need to spend most of your time on important tasks--and delegate the less important ones to others.

  • Time Management Tips

    = Make time to be strategic--set goals and then plan weekly and daily so your actions are in line with your goals

  • = Prioritize your activities and eliminate non-essential work
  • = Delegate work--if you're doing everything, you're not doing any one thing well
  • = Automate tasks where possible
  • = Avoid tie wasters
  • = Set aside time each day to attend to phone calls and email rather than handling them as they come up--this will help you stay focused

Client Communication

While you can't control the markets, focusing on your relationship with your clients can help your business, especially when the markets are tumultuous. According to AdvisorBenchmarking research, most advisors believe that between 20% and 60% of their clients had unrealistic expectations prior to the market turmoil. Communicating with your clients will help ensure that their expectations are more realistic--and ultimately, will improve their satisfaction with your practice.

Communications Tips

= Have a game plan in place for communicating key issues to clients.

= Be aware of your clients' expectations and review their original goals with them on a regular basis.

= When the markets have a particularly volatile day, proactively send a quick e-mail to remind clients of their long-term plan.

Take Action

In short, the future of your own business is in your hands, even though the market is not. By focusing on organizational efficiency, time management, and client communications, you'll be more likely to weather the financial crisis and position your practice for success in 2009.


Maya Ivanova is a market research manager with Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking.com. She can be reached at mivanova@advisorbenchmarking.com.

About Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking, Inc., an affiliate of Rydex Investments

AdvisorBenchmarking is a free practice management program designed to help RIAs better manage and grow their firms. The analysis on Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking.com is based on the number of completed surveys and reflects only information from those surveys. This information is intended to be general, and these overviews are no substitute for professional, legal or consulting advice. This information should not be construed as advice from Rydex Investments or any of its affiliates.

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