1. Deception. As an advisor working from home, it appears you don’t have your branch or sales manager looking over your shoulder. It’s tempting to work when you feel like it, while talking a good game on the weekly team video calls.

Why it’s a bad idea: Senior management can measure “ringing the cash register” activities like new accounts opened, new assets and trades done. They know if you are not putting in 100%.

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2. Resignation. Not from your job. It pays too well. It’s the feeling you are currently treading water, waiting for life to come back to normal. You’re waiting for the “Big Bang” when the firm will say: “Everyone back to the office. Masks off. The virus is history now.”

Why it’s a bad idea: You have numbers to hit. Unless you find a way to make progress in the current environment, there will be a day of reckoning.

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3. Procrastination. Your book is a wasting asset, losing value as time goes on. Over time your clients will pass away. Shorter term, others will move to another state, wanting a face-to-face relationship near their new home. Competitors are prospecting your best clients.

Why it’s a bad idea: You need to be prospecting. If you are working from home, many prospects are, too. Many are lonely. They are spending more time on social media. Reading emails. Answering phone calls. After Election Day, the tsunami of robocalls should subside.

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4. Neglect. Annuitized business is a double-edged sword. You get paid regardless of how often or rarely you call clients. As long as the assets stay at the firm, fees come in. It’s tempting to not call clients, or to rationalize “I called once. They said they were fine.”

Why it’s a bad idea: Competitors are prospecting. A leading question is “When did you last hear from your advisor?” Calling your clients lets them know you are thinking about them.

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5. Lack of discipline. When you were in your office, you had a routine. You time-blocked. You scheduled reviews. You attended sales training meetings. You earned CE credits. Working from home might not have the same discipline. The weekend chores might become daily chores, especially if your family thinks you are not really working.

Why it’s a bad idea: Business falls through the cracks. You forget to call about assets coming due. A client leaves a message on your office phone. You don’t check. They call again, wondering why they haven’t heard from you. You are playing catch-up.

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6. Complacency. You gained two hours by not commuting. At last, you have the time to implement a social media strategy. Unfortunately, you default to scheduled postings from the firm’s approved article archive and clicking “Like” a few times when reviewing others’ posts.

Why it’s a bad idea: You are missing an opportunity. Instead of being passive and reactive, you can be proactive, building name recognition and growing your network. One of your goals is to be the first name in your connections’ minds when they say: “I have a question involving money.”

(Photo: Shutterstock)
7. Sloth. You have embraced Zoom. Sort of. You schedule calls with clients. Your background looks like an unmade bed because … it is an unmade bed. You don’t put care into your appearance.

Why it’s a bad idea: You look unprofessional. You don’t have the wow factor that clients experience when visiting your office — big building, someone bringing them coffee. A better-dressed competitor making a Zoom call can suddenly look like a step up from you.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

One More Deadly Sin

This is the most dangerous.

8. Greed. One of the reasons fee-based income is good is the “same side of the table” aspect. That doesn’t bring in revenue quickly. It can be tempting to take money out of fee-based products, putting it into ones with high up-front charges. Perhaps you don’t explain the finer points. Later, you sell the higher fee product to buy a different higher fee product.

Why it’s a bad idea: It’s not in the client’s best interest. Compliance will catch you. Your client will catch you. Your client’s accountant will catch you. Your client’s lawyer will catch you.

It looks like we won’t be having a “Virus Victory Day” anytime soon. Put another way, it won’t be like a “Big Bang” when everything immediately goes back to the way it was. It’s likely to be a gradual process. We will all be working from home for a while.

Let’s look at the seven deadly sins of working from home. Remote work presents opportunities, but we need to avoid temptations.

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