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How to Maximize Advisor Productivity While Avoiding Burnout

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What You Need to Know

  • The pandemic has created a new level of stress, adding to advisor burnout.
  • Use yourself as a gauge to determine how much advisors can handle before hurting the client experience.
  • Add advisors before service people to increase your growth. It will pay off.

Managing a growing advisory firm is never easy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult. While the drastic and immediate shift to remote work has created new problems, the hardest part of running a business remains the same: managing people.

You want your advisors to use their time wisely and be productive, but you also need to understand how they work and what their limits are to avoid causing burnout.

Burnout has been a persistent problem in American businesses. As far back as 2012, 40% of workers said they were so stressed that they felt burnt out. And now in 2021, the pandemic has led to new levels of exhaustion.

What’s an advisory firm owner to do? The answer is found in modeling a workweek. Here’s how to do it:

Begin With Your Client Experience

Before designing an action plan, it helps to understand your advisors and what they can handle. Not causing burnout is the most important thing.

If you’re unsure how to gauge what an advisor on your team can handle, look at your own capacity. How many clients can you reasonably work with before your client experience begins to suffer?

For instance, you may have found that you can handle three client meetings a day without feeling stressed. At that level you still have time to address phone calls, emails and other immediate issues.

All advisory firms offer different client experiences, though, so not all firms can answer the capacity question in the same way.

In general, break out the client-to-advisor ratio like this:

  • Semiannual client meetings: 85 clients/advisor
  • Annual client meetings: 144 clients/advisor
  • Team approach: 220 clients/advisor

Model Your Workweek

Once you have an idea of how many clients you can serve without creating an inferior client service experience, set up an advisor’s ideal workweek to maximize productivity.

Structuring a workweek helps each advisor to know how many prospect and client appointments and miscellaneous tasks they can reasonably handle without getting worked into the ground.

Consider this if you’re still having trouble with planning out a model workweek:

  • The average advisor has two prospect meetings a week
  • The average advisor has 2-3 client meetings every day
  • The average advisor spends an hour in each client meeting

You should be able to track your own schedule against these averages and adjust from there to plan out the maximums each advisor should expect in a week. Once the limits have been reached, it’s time to hire.

Hire More Advisors

Knowing when to add more staff is the other side of keeping your team from burning out. And somewhat surprisingly, adding more support staff is not the answer when you want to grow your team fast.

Instead, focus on building and hiring more advisors so you can continue to add more clients and maintain a rapid growth trajectory.

This does mean that advisors will need to continue performing service work instead of spending all their time prospecting and providing advice; it’s only temporary. The faster you grow, the faster you climb toward the right time to add those service staff members instead of another advisor.

Productivity and growth go hand in hand. Determine what a maximum efficiency workweek looks like, and you’ll serve clients (and prospective clients) better. As your service improves, you’ll likely see your firm start to grow as referrals become more common.

And best of all, you’ll grow with a positive culture and an intact team that levels up instead of burns out.