This is a question I ask many of my advisor-clients as they gear up to hire yet another service-oriented team member. “Are your office policies and procedures documented?” I ask. “Do you have institutionalized systems and processes around client acquisition, client service and client engagement?” “How clear are team members on company objectives and quarterly goals?”
Teams are not always at capacity as quickly as they think they are. Often advisors will feel the need to bring on additional support when work begins falling through the cracks or when team members aren’t meeting deadlines. More times than not, that additional hire fails to “solve the problem” and simply falls into the same inefficiency trap as everyone else; and the work that can be done by two people has now been distributed among five. (Technically speaking every 100 clients / 100 million in assets can be managed by one lead advisor.)
Consider the following three questions the next time your team tells you they feel they are at capacity:
1) Are expectations clearly set with clients during the onboarding phase?
Imagine never having to “chase” clients down for business reviews, or never having to field a phone call from a client with an issue that could be managed by someone else…
The client onboarding phase is critical. It gives you and the team the opportunity to set expectations with clients about service, as well as their relationship with your team. By the time they are officially a client they should know: how often they will be meeting with your office and when, who specifically they will be meeting with, whom to call with questions and concerns, where to find important information about their accounts and policies and what to expect overall from you and the team over the course of their life cycle.
2) Do you use technology effectively?
And I don’t just mean, “do you have a CRM system?” I mean, is there someone in your office dedicated to keeping up to speed on technology and artificial intelligence.There are thousands of programs and apps designed to create efficiencies for financial advisory organizations; from digital scheduling tools to internal team communication systems (e.g. Slack), each year you should be finding more ways to use technology for day to day operations.
3) Are there more exceptions than there are standards relating to client planning needs?
Although each client situation is unique, you should identify several client profiles that exist within your book. If you don’t already, create a standard way of thinking around how to approach a client’s needs; the way in which you build your advisory models, the way review meetings are run, what documents, tools and resources are brought into each meeting, and the way the plans are updated each year.
The most powerful conversations you can have around day to day efficiencies will come from the conversations you have with your team members. Begin by engaging them in a discussion around the above questions.