Have you attended a conference recently? Do you find yourself realizing that there are some fantastic ideas that will impact your business that should be implemented? The challenge is that you don't have time to do all the things that are already on your plate. One thought many advisors have is to add an additional staff person to the team to implement the idea.  

Before taking on the added expense of more headcount, you should take a look at your firm’s current processes and activities to see if there is an opportunity to increase capacity through greater efficiency. Often you will find that there are activities or tasks that aren’t really necessary or that could be shifted from a high-cost resource (e.g., advisor) to a lower-cost resource (e.g., para-planner). The following six steps will help guide you through this process.

  1. Have everyone in your firm write down all of their regular daily, weekly or monthly activities, including the amount of time spent on each activity. The more granular the detail the better, because often you can’t eliminate an entire activity but you may be able to eliminate some of the steps involved in that activity. Instead of everyone trying to think of what they do over the course of a month, have them keep a log of activities for a month to better capture the amount of time and frequency of each activity.
  2. Everyone in the firm should sit down and share the information from their log. This creates a great opportunity to better learn what everyone does on a day-to-day basis, but it will also help uncover inefficiencies such as duplicate work, activities that could be passed to a lower-cost resource, or unnecessary work.  (Although the goal is to eliminate work, you may also find gaps were necessary work isn’t being performed.)
  3. As a group, decide on which activities, or steps within an activity, can be eliminated or shifted from a high-cost resource to a lower-cost resource.  You might not be able to do this for all of the firm’s activities at once, so start with just a couple of processes, such as preparing for client meetings or quarterly reporting.
  4. Phase out or shift the activities as agreed upon in the previous step over the course of the next month. Habits are hard to change and there might be some training involved, so don’t expect the activities to change overnight.
  5. After a month, review the results or effectiveness of the changes. This will not only help you understand the benefits, but it will also help hold people accountable because they know there will be a review of the changes.
  6. Select one or two new processes to work on and repeat steps three through five.