Time is money, and if you’re taking more than 15 hours to create a financial plan, you’re doing it wrong. Stop looking at Parkinson’s Law with a glass half empty perspective, and instead take the principle and apply it to your advantage.
Want to know how? Listen in as Matt and Micah break down what their financial planning process looks like, including how much time they’re spending on each area. You’ll learn their giant time-saving tips to get back more of that precious time in your life while still delivering massive value to your clients.
This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…
Matthew Jarvis: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I am your co-host Matthew Jarvis, and with me as always the man, the myth, the legend, Micah Shilanski. Micah, how are you, my friend?
Micah Shilanski: I am doing excellent, bud. Super excited to be here. We got some amazing things, not only stuff that happened in January, which are just outstanding, on the backstage pass, but we have some amazing things coming out. So super excited.
Matthew Jarvis: It is very fun. I was just thinking, Micah, as I was introducing you, I want to someday have sound effects for the show. The applause, the thunderous applause comp, something exciting like that. Listeners, if you’ll imagine thunderous applause, and for those of you that are new listeners are thinking who are these clowns, we would love to tell you all about us, but we’ve done that before. We want to honor existing listeners. So send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll send you our full background. But more importantly, we will send you some great information on time-blocking, on guardrails, on the one-page financial plan.
Just some things that will give you really kind of the foundations of what it takes to have a perfect RIA. So send an email, email@example.com. For our longtime listeners, you’ve seen a lot of that already, but feel free to send an email there as well. And of course, backstage pass members, you know how to get all this stuff and far, far more.
Micah Shilanski: This is just so important because the whole purpose behind the Perfect RIA is delivering massive value. So email us there. You’re going to get massive value right away, which will be great. And you’re going to get some continuous things, as we update things, you’re going to stay top of mind, which is going to be awesome. Really is.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, for today’s podcast, this is a question that came up in both of our offices, both Micah and I have hired advisors to join our teams, our respective teams. Of course, Micah has got his office up in Anchorage, I’ve got mine in the Seattle area. And both of us had our new advisors, Alex and Christian, respectfully say, wow, Micah, Matt, you guys create these things really quickly, these things being financial plans, tax projections, all these things. These are done really quickly. That seems unusually fascinating. It should take a lot longer than that, and that of course spurred this whole conversation, Micah, between you and I.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, it really did. Now real quick, and we’ll get into kind of a story behind it, remember when. I remember being in the office till like 7:00 PM in the evenings every night and stressing before prospect meetings, and trying to update everything. And then they upload a new statement, and I felt I had to update all of the numbers and redo everything and print everything out. And I would spend hours and hours of time. When really, I was just trying to make my own justification for how much it was worth. I was really just trying to justify my own self-worth in this little identity crisis of not being confident in who I was and the value that I was delivering. So, I can remember spending a ton of time on it.
Now we fast forward the clock, and I remember it was a conversation between our new advisor, and his comment was, because I was telling him how long things should take, and he politely pushed back, which is totally fine. And he was like, look, I think you’re underestimating how much time this actually takes you to get done. And I was like, okay, fair enough, let’s find out.
So, we were actually talking about tax projection. So I said, this should take me 10 minutes to do, probably going to take you 15 to 20. Not from a competency standpoint, but I’m just more familiar with the client, I’m more familiar with the technology. He’s just learning this right now. So it’s going to take him a little bit longer. So, I said, great, let’s pick out a client. We opened a client. I started Zoom session, hit the record button. And from start to finish, took like nine minutes and 37 seconds. And went through and built an entire tax projection. It was a fairly complex, not over the top, but we even found a couple of errors on a client’s tax return that was there. Now, I was also going to beat a clock so I was being intentional about my time.
But this is really, really a key skill that’s there because it gets back to one of our favorite laws, Parkinson’s Law. Things take as long as you will allow them to take. So how long are you allowing your financial plan to take?
Matthew Jarvis: Now a quick disclaimer, if you will, or a head trash alert here. Some of you are listening to this and saying, either you might be saying, hey, I think Micah is full of crap, I don’t think he can do it in 10 minutes. And I can assure you that he can, but that’s different. You might be saying, well, Micah’s clients must be filing 1040 easies, and Micah’s only tax advice is to fund a Roth IRA account. So there’s all this head trash that we go to saying, hey, whatever Micah is doing, this can’t work for me. And you’re entitled to that mentality, you’re entitled to think or believe whatever you want.
I would challenge you for this episode and every other to just say, what if it works? Even if your clients are in fact 10 times more complicated than Micah’s, which I doubt, but let’s say that they are, what are things from this episode that you can learn from? So just watch that head trash of saying, I don’t believe Micah, this can’t work, this doesn’t work in my situation. And instead say, what is Micah doing, what is Matthew doing that I can apply to my practice to deliver more value to my clients? Don’t let your ego or your cynicism, which I have a lot of, get in the way of delivering massive value to your clients.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And that’s a great learning lesson between anytime you’re listening to any podcast, you’re listening to a presenter. How do you get value out of that? I think it’s great. So Jarvis, before we get too far down this path, because I think there’s going to be a lot of questions, when we start talking about how long should it take to create a whole financial plan. Now I was just giving an example of just a tax projection. So, let’s talk about the whole plan at first. What is in, because I think if we ask 100 different advisors what a financial plan is, I think we’re going to get 106 different answers. What is a financial plan in our definition?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, and Micah, I think that’s a good distinction because I think as advisors, we often say like, oh, well so-and-so charges X for a financial plan, and it takes them Y? Well, that may or may not be true, but what they’re delivering is going to be, again, if you ask 100 advisors, you’ll get at least 106 different responses of a financial plan. So Micah, for our purposes, the Perfect RIA, we’re defining the financial planning process as the time from when someone agrees to meet with you, either in person or virtually in today’s world, to when they get dropped into your normal client routine, your twice a year, your value adds, all these different things. So, between when they first agree to meet with you and when they get fully onboarded to the cycle. Sometimes we call this the prospect process as well, but that’s what we’re going to define as the financial planning process or timeframe, if you will.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, that’s the timeframe. So in my world, there’s five elements that we make sure we want to go through. Estate planning, risk management, retirement income, investments, and taxes. So in my world, again, I’m dealing with pre-retirees, especially with federal employees, we’re moving from pre-retirement into retirement. Those are the aspects that I want to make sure that we’re covering inside of that timeframe.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s correct. And so Micah, for you that looks like an initial meeting that they’ve paid to have, and we’ve talked about that on the podcast, you can find those episodes. And then walk us through the rest of them if you would really quickly. So you’ve got those five core focuses, but how does it work on a timeframe?
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. So, when a client onboards, so the first meeting is not an onboarding, that’s our prospect meeting, to see if they’re a good fit, to see if we’re going to be helpful. And it’s about 50-50. Some people just aren’t a good fit for us or likewise. And so, we go on to other ways. That is absolutely okay. It’s again, another reason I love charging for that prospect appointment. Then when they decide to become a client, one of the things I step back and say, okay, great, our first meeting was a bit of a scatterplot. We talked about a lot of different things.
Now going forward, we’re going to be a lot more laser-focused. We’re going to talk about one, maybe two main topics in a meeting, and that’s it, so we can make sure we get things done. And that process is going to take about eight to 12 months to go through. And we’re going to break down one meeting, it’s just about estate planning. Then the next meeting is just about risk management. And we’re going to get risk management done. The next one is just about retirement income. So we’re going to break down in the next eight to 12 months, we’re going to have four to five meetings to deliver and implement their entire financial plan.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, just to make sure for our listeners, so you have that initial meeting that they pay for, we’ve talked about that. And then after that meeting, that’s when they decide if they want to hire you. So you’re not selling them a financial plan independently of becoming a client. It’s not a la carte, it’s sort of an all or nothing. Is that correct?
Micah Shilanski: It’s absolutely an all or nothing thing. They can’t pick and choose, You know what, Micah, I really just want to do estate planning, or would you just give me a TSP recommendation? Absolutely not. The initial meeting is kind of that a la carte option, we can talk about whatever they want for that initial meeting. But going forward, if they decided to become clients, no, they’ve got to do the full financial plan. Everything or nothing.
Matthew Jarvis: Now, Micah, we were doing some rough numbers on the back of a napkin before this call, before this podcast, excuse me. How many hours of your time did you figure that was from that initial meeting, which they paid for, to when you kind of feel like you’ve been through those five steps, they’ve kind of dropped into the normal client process?
Micah Shilanski: Sure. Let’s break that down. Now, I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten because these are back of the napkin numbers. So, it’s going to be pretty close though. So, let’s go with that first year. Let’s say I have five meetings in our first year. All of my meetings are about an hour, they’re about 40 minutes to 60 minutes to complete. I take a 15 minute break, then I have the next meeting. So that’s my forcing mechanism to make sure they get done with an hour. All right, so that’s five hours. Five meetings in a year, that’s five hours.
Matthew Jarvis: Plus that one that they paid for, so it really kind of six, right?
Micah Shilanski: I was including that, but sure. Yeah, because normally like investments in taxes, you can tag team those as one meeting, they normally don’t take two separate meetings.
Matthew Jarvis: Five meetings, five hours. Perfect.
Micah Shilanski: Then I have prep time that needs to be there. This is the key to my prep time. And I bring this up because so often when I talk to other advisors, in my opinion, they’re doing prep time backwards. They’re prepping for their meeting right before their meeting. What the heck, Micah, that makes the most sense. Well, actually it doesn’t. The best time to prep for your next meeting is after your meeting, because as soon as you get done with the meeting, everything from that client is top of mind. You know where everything’s at, you know how everything is in place. Everything is right there at the tip of your fingertips. So, that’s when you need to do all of your work for your next meeting so when you go into the next meeting, it’s ready to go. This is a giant time-saver.
So my meeting prep, I’m going to say it takes me between 15 to 20 minutes to do for meeting perhaps, let’s say 20 on the high side. So 20 times five, what’s that about, 1.6 hours, give or take. And then I’m going to say the initial plan review. This is going to take a little bit more, when I’m getting all of the documents, when I’m reviewing everything and going through. I’m going to say it takes about an hour to an hour and a half. I’m going to round it up to two in case I’m forgetting something just to be on the high side. I don’t really think it takes that long. Five hours for the meetings, two hours for the plan review, 1.6, that’s eight and a half hours?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah.
Micah Shilanski: Is that about right?
Matthew Jarvis: Sounds about right. And then time that your team spends on that process? Any round numbers on that?
Kitces had a great article some time ago, it always has great articles. This was back, I’m just pulling it up right here, this was back a few years ago where it was the length of time advisors spend on financial plans, this was back actually 2019, it was a survey he did. Again, I’m always very skeptical of surveys. This is not personal to Kitces. It’s just because you have a selection bias, the kind of people that take these surveys probably don’t have great practices, have too much time on their hand. And then they’re also guessing at it. But he said it takes 34 and a half hours to create the financial plan. And this seems to be primarily the advisor’s time. So Micah, we’ve outlined eight to nine hours of your time. Let’s say your team spends two hours, three hours. What would be a wild high side number for your team on this?
Micah Shilanski: We count kind of roughly 50 to 75% of the advisor’s time is going to be directly in the staff time. Again, this is a total swag. I have no documentation on this whatsoever, all of it. So let’s say it takes me, I’m going to use round numbers, let’s say it takes me 10 hours on a financial plan. That’s five hours of staff time that would be there somewhere between five and seven. Scheduling stuff, getting documents—exactly. All of those things. So, I’m going to say it’s between five and seven hours.
Matthew Jarvis: Let’s be really round up here, round it up would be 15, let’s say 15, let’s say 17, 18. So that’s half of the time that the average survey recipient of the Kitces thing in 2017 said they take. So they’re saying they’re taking 34 and a half hours. Micah, we’re rounding up, we’re saying maybe 15, 16 hours. How can we possibly have this big of a disparity between what we call the average and what you’re doing?
Micah Shilanski: Well, I would say a couple of reasons. Number one, does this pass the straight face test? Okay, well look at how much the average time a normal advisor takes out of the office, and how much time a backstage pass member or a Perfect RIA advisor takes out of the office. Double. So, I would say from a straight face test, it absolutely makes sense that we should be doing it in half as much time because we’re only in the office half as much as the normal advisor. And this is a big reason as to why. We’ve created forcing mechanisms in our lives to apply Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. Parkinson’s Law is always there. So often we apply it to our disadvantage, right? We say, great, I have a client meeting in two months or in whatever time period, I’ll slowly work on that plan. And all of a sudden, you’re going to pour all of this time into it.
How about you just redesign that and take Parkinson’s Law and say, great, you’re only given a limited amount of time. Now, from a quality aspect of it, at no point in time, do I feel my quality in a financial plan has decreased. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. My quality has dramatically increased in my delivery presentation and ability to communicate with clients to help them achieve their retirement goals. So, less time does not mean less value. There is no reference to time and value in our equation whatsoever.
Matthew Jarvis: And that’s an easy place to get hung up on. We mentioned at the beginning of the episode, right? Hey, this client has paid me X or they’re going to pay me X or this much, therefore, I need to spend this much time. And again, I’ve never had any client or prospect ask me that. Say, Matthew, I want you to spend 37 hours analyze my situation. What they say is, Matthew, I want to retire and not run out of money. Matthew, I want to pay less in taxes. Matthew, I’m worried about what’s going to happen to my spouse when I die, and I’m not confident that he or she can take care of the money. Those are the questions they’re asking. They’re not asking me how long I can take.
Now, if you go back to this Kitces article, and again, my congratulations, my thanks to Kitces to providing so much information to our industry.
Micah Shilanski: Phenomenal.
Matthew Jarvis: He breaks down how advisors are spending this 34 hours. And he says that they’re spending over six hours analyzing the data, and another five hours developing recommendations. The average advisor is spending almost more time analyzing the data and developing a plan than Micah is spending on this entire process. My process is even shorter, maybe I have a shorter attention span than Micah, I don’t know. But Micah, in this process, how much time are you spending inputting data? How much time are you spending in financial planning software? What would be around number on that?
Micah Shilanski: Very, very low. I’m not inputting data in financial planning software. We do have some legacy clients that have old data in financial planning software to be 100% fair. That is absolutely out there. But now with our bucket systems that we put in place, with our executive summaries, our one-page financial plans, it’s very minuscule that we’re actually putting numbers inside of this. Quite frankly, what takes the most time, in my opinion, is insurance quotes. Comparing longterm care policies, comparing life insurance stuff. I would say that takes the most time to go out and to get that, compared to anything else. But we’re not spending a fraction of that time in financial planning software. I don’t see the return. I don’t see the direct value to the client.
Matthew Jarvis: No, I don’t either. In fact, later in this article, looks at the average advisor spending 10 to 15 hours per client using third-party financial planning software. This is things like eMoney, MoneyGuidePro, Moneytree, NaviPlan, etc. Again, I got to tell you, I spend zero time, I have not used financial planning software other than demos in several years, because what I discovered, and I would encourage everyone listening to try this test, I started asking prospects during the meeting, I would say, hey, we’ve done this big elaborate financial plan. It’s these 50, 60 full colored pages. I would say, hey, I’ve not stapled this, I’ve not bound it. Would you just pull out the pages that you want to keep and I’ll recycle the rest for you, I’ll shred them.
They would typically take zero pages because the pages didn’t make any sense to them. What they were looking at was a printed version of Google, they could have googled should I retired, and what MoneyGuidePro or eMoney, remember, this is not picking on specifically, spit out 60 pages of noise. What they wanted was the one-page executive summary, which is why I went to one page financial plans. Boom, boom, boom, action, action, action, specific, specific, specific, done, let’s move on.
Micah Shilanski: I can’t tell you how many clients I brought in that brought in a MoneyGuidePro plan from another advisor. And it’s great and they hand it to me, and like, would you explain this to me? They’re like, I have no idea what it says. I was hoping you would tell me it. Guess what, it says like 99%, 98%. Everything in there shows green and they’re good to retire. And the client is like, I have no idea what this says. The only thing I do like is a cashflow statement. Again, I’m going with pre-retirees to retirement, so that question about where’s my money going to come from. And they have pensions and multiple income sources. So we put together an income timeline so they can see where their retirement paychecks are going to come in. I think that makes a ton of sense to do, at least again, in my market.
But yeah, we spent so much time with these plans. And do they really deliver value to our clients or are we doing this as our own CYA or own justification for the fee that we charge?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, totally. People tell me, well, I work with younger clients or I work with business owner clients so there’s more cashflow. I still am not that impressed by what’s available. What I can do with my calculator, I need money for my kids’ college. Great, how much is that going to cost? 50,000 a year for four years. Great, that’s $200,000, you have 10 years until they go to college. This is easy math. We don’t need to do a Monte Carlo analysis on this.
I would, again, look at your results. If Micah is onboarding these clients spending 15 hours and you’re spending 30 or 40 or 50 hours for the same client, are you delivering more value or could that time have been spent on other activities? Whether that’s personal time, spending time with your family, training to be a better advisor, listening to the Perfect RIA podcast, thank you very much. Is there a correlation between the time spent and the value delivered? And I think there’s not, or at least it’s quickly diminishing.
Micah Shilanski: Quick little fun story. So Jarvis and I, when we were especially first getting to know each other, I went down to his office, learned how he operated. He came up to mine. So, he about laughed out of, fell out of his seat laughing when he’s in my office and he saw I had a 12C calculator. He’s like what in the hell are you doing with a 12C calculator in your office running projections for clients on the fly and going through these things? So, sometimes calculators are helpful in those numbers, but I love your point. It’s really not that complex. How do we make it simple? There’s a lot of moving parts. We make it more complicated than it needs to be. How do you make it easy? Clients don’t want to see the 50 page analysis that you put together. If you feel you need to, okay, fine. They want to see the basic summary. What action items do they need to take to help them meet their goals?
So Jarvis, let’s pivot this a little bit to you because you have a slightly different process. How much time do you spend creating and implementing that financial plan for the first year?
Matthew Jarvis: I was doing the math on this. And again, I didn’t run a timer on this, but I’ve done a lot of these and I work to be efficient. So we have an initial meeting, that takes an hour, the meeting itself is an hour. I don’t do any prep for that. My team spends an hour getting all of the client’s data into a spreadsheet, just a spreadsheet. In fact, I’ll be sure to post that to the backstage pass. So Nathaniel in our office spends about an hour getting all their information into that spreadsheet. I spend an absolute maximum an hour building a one-page financial plan. Quite proficient at it now, but earlier in my career, I would set an egg timer on my desk for an hour. And when that clock ran up, then I would turn off the financial planner, I would walk away from it, I’d come back the next day. Otherwise, again, Parkinson’s Law would consume endless time.
So now we’re at three hours. I have a meeting with a client or the prospect to present the plan. That’s an hour, that’s hour number four. And then from then they decide if they’re going to become a client or not. And then they have an hour onboarding meeting with me. My team spends about an hour behind the scenes doing different things. And then we drop them into our normal client meeting cycle, which would be two more meetings in that year. I kind of rambled through that quickly, but that’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, plus two hours of miscellaneous stuff, call that 10 hours in the first—
Micah Shilanski: And you do an initial meet and greet as well call, a 30 minutes?
Matthew Jarvis: 15 minutes. I didn’t factor it in. I put that in kind of that miscellaneous block of time. I’m end-to-end, and again, this is where as a listener, you could scoff and say, well, geez, these must be really simplistic clients. I don’t know, yesterday, not yesterday, a few weeks ago, I closed a dentist client, guy’s worth couple of million dollars, getting ready to sell his practice for a couple of million dollars, inheriting a few million dollars on top of that. If you’re doing the math, it comes out to six million. One page financial plan, and he loved it.
He said, “Matthew, I’ve met with dozens of financial planners over my career because I’m a dentist, I’m always being bombarded. None of them could tell me how they would justify their fee.” He didn’t even ask my fee. He says, “Matthew, whatever this is, I want to hire you because this is amazing, this is exactly what I want.” And I said, “Well, great news doctor, we’re accepting a few more clients. Here’s how our fee works. The first quarter you feel like I’m not delivering value, which could be if you wanted a 60 page financial plan, great, we’ll part ways as friends.” And there it is, one page. In fact, I’ll make sure that’s posted, it’s actually already on the backstage pass. I posted it the other day.
Micah Shilanski: These are things that we think that the more complex the client is, understand, the doctors, and I love to pick on doctors, they are highly educated. They’re extremely intelligent in their field. Their field is not finance. We feel that we need to overwhelm them with all this information. Why? I don’t know, it’s just what doctors do when they come into us. They drop a lot of this terminology on us. We have no idea what in the hell they’re saying, and then they leave, and we get a $50,000 bill.
So when clients come in, we don’t want to repeat that process. Just because that’s how it may feel on the other side, we want to make it as simple as possible for them to say yes to accomplish their goals. And if we make things complex, it’s not going to happen, which is where the one-page financial plan comes in. That quick little executive summary that says, great, here’s where you’re at, and here are things that you need to do. The 10 minute tax projection I had, it was for a self-employed client with a retiree. We were doing Roth conversions, we had defined benefit options. We had other things going on. It wasn’t just two w-2s and calling it a day. You can do complex things quickly, especially with repetition.
Matthew Jarvis: You totally can. Again, if you’re listening to this and you’re saying, wow, this is a fraction of the time that I take, I want to know how to speed my process, if you had that kind of open mindset, if you set aside the head trash, the best way that I’ve found to get faster at this is to find an advisor who’s doing it faster than you and watch them. Now, that’s easy to say, and it’s very hard to do. I still remember when I had the opportunity to have Tom Gau, who’s a legendary financial planner, sit down with me and look through a tax plan, not a tax plan, a tax return. And he just, in a couple of minutes, he says, oh, this, this, this, this, this. And it blew my mind how quickly and efficiently he was able to do that. And it forever changed how I do my own tax projections.
Micah Shilanski: You know, Jarvis, just thinking about that, why don’t we throw it out to the nation? If you would like Jarvis and I to jump on live, we’ll get some information, maybe you guys can send it in anonymize, and we’ll go through and build a one-page financial plan. Do a webinar just on that. If that’s something that you’re interested, I’m just throwing this off the cuff, Jarvis.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, we’ve done that a couple of times for our backstage pass members. Maybe we’ll do one for the entire nation. To be able to watch another advisor do it. And Micah, you and I talked about this before we hit record. That’s the danger in a lot of these surveys, and this again is no disrespect to Kitces, he’s gathering valuable information. His surveys, sometimes we use them, we say, 34 hours, that’s how long I should be spending. No, no. We don’t know if that’s actually how long people are spending. We don’t know how good their practices are. We don’t know if after 34 hours, the person’s actually implementing a plan, which is the only measurement in my mind of the quality of the financial plan is if it’s implemented, we can’t see any of those things from the surveys.
What you want to do is find an advisor who’s crushing it by your definition, and figure out how to learn from him or her.
Micah Shilanski: And this is where masterminds are so powerful by the way, because you get those like-minded people that are coming together and you get a walk through those steps. Now, very successful people have a habit of undervaluing how much time they put into it because it’s so easy. So, yup, that’s absolutely there, but you get those masterminds, as you see what other people are doing, you join communities that are out there that are just focused in this excellence. It’s amazing the tools and tips that you’re going to pick up because the bad habits you’ve gotten into overtime.
Matthew Jarvis: And we’ve talked about masterminds a lot, the trick is you have to get a group of advisors who are willing to be totally transparent. And so, Micah and I, last year, we did four different masterminds, all with advisors who, a lot of them said, hey, this is the first time I’ve ever been transparent about my practice, about what I do well, about where I struggle. These are the most honest conversations I’ve ever had, because no one is there, or if there are those people, we don’t let them come back, trying to tout their ego, trying to say, hey, I’ve got this better way, but I can’t tell you. That stuff doesn’t help.
Micah Shilanski: It doesn’t right. We have an abundance mentality. There’s a ton of clients out there, we all can have amazing clients and drive great phenomenal lifestyle practices. We all need to push each other to that next level. Speaking of pushing, this podcast is all about delivering value and action items. We want you to take away things that you can implement this week in your practice. So Jarvis, kick us off. What is the first action item our listeners should do?
Matthew Jarvis: Action item number one is that only the things you measure will improve, or said another way, anything you measure will improve. You need to time how long it’s actually taking you to create a financial plan or time to do case prep, or really anything you’re doing, you need to time it. Now, I wouldn’t put a stopwatch on your desk and time every single activity for the entire day, but next time you have a financial plan to draw up or a client meeting to prep, I would set a timer, a visual timer on your desk and watch that time go. Better yet, turn it the other way, and every hour stop and say, why am I still on this? Can it be done more efficiently? So step one is time how long it takes you in this process.
Micah Shilanski: Step two, group like-kind activities together. This is so important. This is the assembly line concept of things, is, if you go from the first 30 minutes a day, you’re going to create a financial plan, the next 30 minutes, we’re going to do a marketing plan. The next 30 minutes, you’re going to do compliance. And you start rotating through those things. That’s a horrible way to design your schedule, you ain’t going to get crap done because you’re having to shift too many gears.
So, if you have a couple of new clients that have come in, you’re going to build a financial plan, awesome. Take out a couple hours and say, great, this is what I’m going to build a financial plan for three clients that’s going to be there. Limit your time for each one and pivot and move on to the next. You’re going to find that repetition, you’re going to be faster at those things. So, just because you got a new client on Monday, doesn’t mean Monday night, you got to build that financial plan, right? When is that time, but make sure you allot it and get it done.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, and of course, related to that, is make sure there aren’t any other interruptions. So if we looked at this 34 hour time block, let’s say that’s in fact an actual time that the software was open, how much of your attention, there’s no way you spent 34 hours focused on that. Most likely, you had pop-ups, you had alerts, you had emails, you had people walk into your office.
Micah Shilanski: Well, I guess this is new clients. I was doing, real quick, I said 34 hours, how many clients does a typical advisor bring on? How many hours is that throughout the year? Because if you ask this study, most people say they bring on anywhere between 15 to 20 clients. So that’s got to be what, 700 hours. It doesn’t pass the straight face. Sorry.
Matthew Jarvis: So make sure that that time is in fact focus time. If you’re writing a financial plan, turn off everything else and only do that. Another action item, we’re kind of, this is like it’s own rant in itself, another action item, cut in half the amount of time that you’re spending to do prep or that you’re doing to just to see what happens. Let Parkinson’s Law work for you instead of against you. Instead of saying, I’m going to do it until it’s done, say, all right, whatever time it took me, I think it takes me an hour. Great, give myself 30 minutes. What can I get done in 30 minutes? And what got actually cut out versus just bad efficiency?
Micah Shilanski: Now, when you’re doing time blocking, and again, if you don’t know what that is, email firstname.lastname@example.org, you’re going to get more information on that. But as you’re doing time blocking, allot enough time that after your meeting, you can immediately move into the action items for the next meeting. So if I meet with someone in November and our next meeting is going to be in March the next year, guess what, in that November dictation, I’m outlining everything that has to get done and doing the things for March as much as possible, so I can roll into that meeting prep as soon as possible. This is another great way to cut down on that time.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, I’m going to confess, Micah, to you and to the whole TPR audience, this is something I have not been good at. So it’s actually an action item I’m going to take on personally, especially with our new advisor, after the meeting is done, instead of just dictating my memo, to really say, all right, here’s what we’re going to work on next time. Same with prospects, that’s when we’re going to build the one-page financial plan. Otherwise, as you mentioned earlier, in this episode, I’ll wait a week or two or three weeks to do it, and then I’m trying to remember, and I’m spending a lot of time racking my brain, what did they say about this, what did this cryptic note meant that I wrote down?
Micah Shilanski: As you’re starting out, this is really a tough one to work on, but as your team grows, you need to focus on only what you can do. Use delegation to your advantage. Make sure in your team that you are the only one that’s helping build the parts of the financial plan that only you can do. You’re not answering the phones, you’re not scheduling the appointments, you’re not doing the followup. That is your RM’s responsibility, relationship manager. That’s where your team needs to help out with. The more you’re doing only what you can do is the more value you will bring to your clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And I would say related to this, and we’ll use this as a final action item, whether it is your team doing it or you doing it, look at each step and say, is this in fact increasing the value I deliver to clients? So if I run the 437th Monte Carlo simulation, adjusting their retirement spending from 4,000 to $4,001, is that in fact delivering massive value or is that just me entertaining myself? So really be, critical is not the right word, but really be strict about that. Is this extra report, is this extra page, is this extra simulation adding value or is it just busy work, it’s just office work.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, really, really important. All right, this podcast is all about taking action. You’ve got a list of things that you can go and do. Take one of those, implement them this week, make improvements of your practice. And of course, as always, share this with more advisors. This isn’t a competition thing. We want more advisors to grow their practice successfully and vote early, vote often. Jump on iTunes, give us a five star review, you know we love it. And until next time, happy planning.
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