This past week was one of my busiest weeks of the year, and it had nothing to do with preparing for the Super Bowl. Financial plan updates have begun and year-end account reviews are in full swing. According to personality tests I have taken, my personality is a Creator/Refiner. Simply put, I like to create things and continue to refine them. Add to this the fact that I am an efficiency buff, and as you may guess, my mantra becomes: “It can always be improved.” With this in mind, in this post I will make a few suggestions which I hope will help some of you. 

It has been said that financial planning is a labor-intensive, low-margin business. Because of this, many advisors have abandoned the practice, opting to concentrate on the more lucrative component—asset management. Many advisors, myself included, are still firm believers in the value of financial planning, however. 

In January, I updated two plans and will conduct a few dozen account reviews. As an independent advisor, my focus must be on servicing clients. However, at the same time, it’s important to address the needs of potential clients. Add to this the ongoing search for new technologies and processes which will increase efficiency, and you have a busy schedule. Therefore, you must be organized to be efficient.

Here are the four things I would recommend to help: 

  1. Determine exactly what information you will include in all account reviews and delegate as much of the task of preparation as possible.
  2. Create a matrix of every repetitive task. Across the top row list the months and in the left column list the tasks. Then place a check mark in the appropriate box. With this, you can easily see what needs to be done and when. After this, put reminders into your contact management system, again, delegating them to the proper person.
  3. Your annual budget should already be in place, but if not, here are a few suggestions. Start with expenses as they are usually easier to predict. Then project your income. If you are fee-only, this will be much easier and more accurate. If commissions are a large part of your business, then your income projection will be subject to more variance. In any event, setting out your budget is a good way to assure that you live within your means.
  4. Create your 2012 initiatives. What can you incorporate into your practice that will add value? If you haven’t done this yet, call your clients who have a mortgage and see if refinancing makes sense. With the slow economy and housing market, plus the Fed’s Operation Twist, mortgage rates will be low for quite some time.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!