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Can't Get to the Beach? Try Automating!

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I recently took my family on a vacation to Disney World. During the long lines in the Magic Kingdom, my wife and I played a lot of word games with our children to keep them from saying “Mom and Dad, when is this line going to end?” One of the word games we played was “opposites.” What is the opposite of fun? Bored. What is the opposite of Cinderella? Angelina Jolie, my 5-year-old did get that one.

What is the opposite of a financial advisor?

For many insurance agents and money managers, the answer is “business manager” (i.e., someone who has the opposite personality trait of the individual who is happy with a 9-5 job). Financial advisors who must also be salespeople or marketers often don’t like to be controlled by the clock or automation. They are slightly unorganized or off schedule because of their multi-tasking nature. Many of these advisors, too, are not good delegators, having built their practices with an “I wear every hat” activity list.

The opposite of you

All of these traits and habits are hard to break and are the opposite of how someone should behave to succeed as a life insurance professional–and be human (e.g., taking time off to go on vacation, to recover from a disability or to help ailing parents or children recover from a crisis). To succeed in their practices, advisors thus must learn to automate and delegate tasks.

Automation helps advisors to use their time and resources efficiently and cuts down on errors. Among the many automation tools is office management software that can store client data, keep calendar appointments and handle sales and marketing initiatives.

Programs to auto-populate life insurance or securities applications from client software can make processing applications a breeze. Scanning paperwork to the software can make it easy for an advisor to work remotely (say, from the beach) using a virtual private network (VPN) connection to the office.

With automation, office staff can more easily understand the sales process and undertake tasks the advisor delegates. Everyone knows what is next and who is to do it without fear or error. Staffers can, for example, download the correct life insurance application using on-site software or the company website and then populate the application using client software. The advisor can be confident the application is completed correctly because the software knows where to enter data and is virtually “flawless.”

Emulating the doctor’s office model

Such automation tools let advisors delegate progressively more tasks and, ultimately, adopt a doctor’s office model, wherein they devote their full time and attention to seeing prospects and clients. Staffers work independently, know their jobs and are accountable to the process using an office manual they can read and learn for themselves.

Automate and delegate. Then, with the extra profit, get to the beach house and work from there. Your kids will appreciate it. Become your opposite and thrive!

Paul Dyer, LUTCF, CLTC, is national education chair for the Society of Certified Retirement Financial Advisors (CRFA), Mustang, Okla. You can e-mail him at [email protected].