Have You Cleared the Clutter from Your Advisory Business?

Jan 31, 2019

Every month, the Practically Speaking team gathers to discuss the results of our content and social media activities. We look at which topics have generated interest, we share feedback that we have received and we talk about future topics. I was particularly interested when Brian Briggs mentioned that January was National Get Organized Month. We both talked about writing a piece that addressed getting organized. Brian’s Business Planning for the Business of You, aimed at our millennial readers, talked about organizing a career. I wanted to be more literal than that. And because I’m not that organized, I ended up writing it for February.

It’s not just for spring

The first week in January brought with it an interesting meeting request. The calendar invite was titled Family Clutter Project – it was from my wife – and it recurred weekly, for an hour every Sunday. She also invited our sons. She said, this isn’t traditional spring cleaning; it is a weekly look at our house and how we can free ourselves from things that impede progress. Sounds like a good idea for the office, too – right?

I admit it: clutter is my nemesis. I have never been very organized and it shows on my desktop and around my workspaces. There is no such thing as a real filing system on my computer; sticky notes and “to do” lists strewn about are the norm. In the “it takes one to know one” file, I look at a lot of advisors’ businesses and see the same issues. Small accounts and/or non-profitable accounts, one-off portfolios and marketing with mixed messages are all forms of clutter in your business. To alleviate the problem, there has to be an ongoing commitment to fix it.

One hour a week?

Ok, so maybe an hour a week is not realistic for some of you, but the goal of decluttering is one that needs to be addressed. Think about what time you can set aside and schedule a de-cluttering. Items that could be addressed are:

  • Your message. Is your marketing consistent, or is the message cluttered and too general? Start with a persona, build the ideal client and decide if your value proposition “speaks” to that client. Look at all of your marketing events, messaging and activities and align them with the persona. The message should be clear and targeted.
  • Your website. What does your website look like? Does it have consistent message, is it clean and direct, or is it filled with numerous messages for a general interest reader? 
  • Your accounts. Is your book cluttered with a bunch of one-off portfolios? Look to streamline your accounts to a consistent investment process. Too many one-off portfolios or investments decrease your ability to service an account the way that it deserves. Bring your client portfolios to your best thinking with your best execution.
  • Your book of clients. What about one-off clients in your book? Do you have unprofitable clients? What about those clients that you (or your staff) no longer want to deal with? What about clients who don’t take your advice and challenge everything – is it time to find them a new home?
  • Your operations. Have you discussed workflows with your staff? What about incorporating workflows into your CRM? I can’t think of a better way to ensure a ball isn’t dropped somewhere down the line than by creating or implementing workflows for your processes.
  • Your work environment. Does the office need a good de-cluttering? I go to many advisors’ offices and notice stacks of papers and files sitting on desks and filing cabinets. It’s ok to look busy, but not sloppy. A potential client will be looking at your attention to detail and wondering if their personal info will be just lying around some day.

Get it? Good. Get on it .

It would be easy to go on and on about all the areas that could be looked at, but I’m sure you get the idea. If you start to eliminate what gets in your way, the office functions better. When the office functions better, you become better at what you do and the business should begin to grow. We know this; it is just time to focus on it. Don’t make my wife send you a meeting request – get on it now.

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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