The Efficiency Problem

I want to know what parts of a financial advisor’s day are the most painful, the most mindless, the least efficient. I want to know this because I’d like to confirm my suspicions of an industry-wide problem: that the business of financial advice is largely inefficient, and that inefficiency lies in technology.

Two Problems, One Solution

I often wonder what the average day of a financial advisor looks like. I imagine there’s a good bit of variance between the young guys hustling to build their client base and the older guys serving their established clients as best they can until retirement. I imagine that each type has more than enough to get done every day, and I imagine if they could ask for only one thing it would be for more time (for themselves and their businesses).

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 Today, one of our coaches spoke with a young advisor who left his firm to go independent, but he’s signed a non-compete leaving him with the challenge of building his client-base from scratch. Obviously, our young advisor, Advisor 1, needs time to build presentations, make phone calls,  and get out there and meet people face to face–basically he needs time to do the things that only he can do. But as soon as he signs that first client, he’s got to go through the pain of account aggregation, and then he’s got the daily annoyance of reconciliation. Essentially, the quicker Advisor 1 moves to build his business, the less time he has to spend with his clients–he’s got a problem of scale.

Advisor 2, on the other hand, knows exactly what he’s doing. Let’s say he’s got 500 clients, their accounts are all aggregated, and he’s established TD Ameritrade as his custodian. His main duties are managing and investing on behalf of his clients, and keeping communication lines open. There’s not much new stuff to deal with on Advisor 2’s part, just doing what he’s always done while freeing up whatever time he can for himself to enjoy. Essentially, Advisor 2’s problem isn’t so much of a problem as it is a challenge: how can he he streamline his daily duties to provide better service more consistently in less time?

The Answer: A System

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What each of these advisors need is a system. A System that allows them to spend less time managing and more time earning new business (or finding a new hobby). A system that has them spending less time playing IT guy, and more time mastering the intricacies of the industry (or golf).

What this system might look like, I imagine, will be a combination of tools old and new. Take ourselves for example: We’ve got a solution to the data management headache that’s getting stronger every day. We’ve just established a new integration with MoneyGuidePro, and we’ve got more in the works. We’ve built, and are continuing to improve, a system that works.

Think about the system you currently have in place. How much annoyance does it cause you? How often do you find yourself doing mindless work?

And now ask yourself a second question: How badly do you want it to stop?

DJ DJ is a freelance writer, hopeful photographer, and social media has-been. He writes to financial advisors about lifehacks, science, technology, business and marketing for Blueleaf, a software that helps create dramatically simpler, more scalable financial advisory businesses. You can find DJ across the web (about.me/djswitz) or you can just follow him on Twitter (@djswitz)!