There are a fair number of challenges facing financial advisors—burdensome and ever-changing regulations, media intimidation, timid clients and prospects—but the biggest enemy facing most advisors may be the person who stares at them in the mirror.
Are you your own worst enemy?
There are two simple reasons why most advisors are not very effective: They do what they enjoy, rather than what is most important, or they don’t control or fail to stop interruptions. Here are seven simple techniques you should implement today to start increasing your productivity:
1. Become a list maker and task ranker. Write a list of all the things you have to do. Write this list every day, and add new items to the list as they arise. Each morning rank tasks as A, B or C. A-ranked items must get done that day, B items should get that done that day and C items are items you’d like to get done. Then rank the A items from most important to least important (A1, A2, A3, etc.), and then the B and C tasks, too.
2. Do the most important tasks first. Most people do what they are best at first and what is most important last. But the people who are most effective are those who start out tackling the important items.
3. Post these signs on your wall next to your desk. “What is the most important use of my time right now? Do it now.” The first question laser focuses your mind on your highest priority tasks, and the statement orders you to perform now.
4. Empower your assistant to punish you. Create a painful penance for each task that you fail to do and have your assistant hold you accountable. For example, put a glass jar on the office refrigerator and put $20 in per day for every A task you don’t get done. If you think $20 is too much, then you really don’t understand the true cost of your failure to get things done. Is it possible that every task you fail to do costs you $200 in lost revenue? Or $500 in lost revenue? More? You bet.
5. Hire an accountability coach. Executive or business coaches are probably one of the best investments that you can make, but most financial professionals only stay with their coaches for a couple of months. My company used to perform over $1 million worth of coaching each year. Most clients would quit after their one-year contract expired and I’d call them to ask why. Their businesses were almost always up 20% or more, but they would say, “I think that I can do it myself without a coach now.” Their results would almost always stagnate thereafter. Like a fitness coach, I think that people just get tired of paying for an intangible benefit and get tired of doing the work. I have a coach. The No. 1 financial advisor in the country has two coaches. Why don’t you?