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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…
Micah Shilanski: Welcome back to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I’m your co-host and co-founder, Micah Shilanski and with me, as usual, the legendary, Matthew Jarvis. Jarvis, what’s going on, bud?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I am doing great, it’s another day here in paradise, also known as Western Washington in the rain, but otherwise, doing really good.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. We’re up in a winter wonderland up here. Snow is falling, which is beautiful. I always love this time of year, especially when the mountain’s going to open up, it’s going to be amazing. And it’s getting close to Christmas time, actually, when this podcast airs, that’s exciting. We’re always excited about that.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. This does air the week of Christmas, so Merry Christmas to everyone. Hopefully, you’ve taken this entire week off and the next week off because, really, there’s not much you’re going to get done between now and the end of the year, as far as in the office. This is, again, really your time to be intentional to say, this is my two weeks to recharge, to spend time with my family, the people I care about. The whole reason we have these practices, right? Is to live a life of fulfillment. And Christmas time is a great time to remember that and really step back and say, why? Why am I really doing this?
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. A couple things that I would say, and this isn’t on our podcast but a couple things that set you up for success. Now, granted, this is after the fact but this is what I’m doing right now while I’m in surge is, I’m letting clients know that says, great, we have to have everything done and wrapped up by December 15th. So, Roth conversions, year-end tax planning, distribution, anything we want to do to get done this year has to be done by December 15th. And the clients will ask why? I say, you know what? That’s a great question. The holidays are coming, everything takes longer.
Could we do it later? Absolutely. But it might be a two hour phone call with Schwab, it might be these other things. Things get delayed in the backend. If we get it done early, then we can make sure it’s done right and now, everyone has time to spend with their families during Christmas. Is that going to be okay with you? And guess what clients say? Micah, that makes total sense, absolutely. So, we’ve given them a deadline to make sure things get done early. Jarvis, to your point, this allows our team and us to be able to take more time off during the holidays, during Christmas season, because we’ve gotten all of our work done.
Matthew Jarvis: Well, Micah, this speaks so much to our rule about, be intentional, right? So, so many advisors before the year they’re like, I couldn’t take the last two weeks off, there’s such a flurry of, like you mentioned, RMDs, Roth conversions, gains, loss, harvesting, whatever the case is. But if you’ve been intentional, Micah, as you described and explain to clients, which we did during our surge as well, hey, listen, all RMDs have to be distributed by the 15th or we’re just going to distribute them for you.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely.
Matthew Jarvis: All Roth conversions are done by the 15th or it’s a discussion for next year. And, again, that goes back to being intentional. And, Micah, this ties really well to, this podcast is recorded a few weeks ahead of time, right? But I just got done doing the XYPN Live Conference, which is a phenomenal conference, it’s a great community. But what I heard again and again from advisors is, Matthew, I’m at capacity and I’d say, well, what does that mean? Because I literally don’t know what that means, Micah, right? They say, I’m at capacity, they say, well, I have 23 clients.
Micah Shilanski: You see a day? What does this mean, right?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And I want to draw this out, this is not to beat on the dozens of people that told me there were at capacity but I want to highlight the mindset that goes behind saying, I’m at my limit, right? As soon as you tell yourself, you’re at your limit, that’s a victim mindset, that’s a limiting belief, that’s head trash, right? Because my orthodontist, I was in her office the other day, she and her team see 40 patients every single day. Okay, I would say, maybe that’s at capacity but I talked to her she says, I’m not even at capacity, I’m trying to figure out how to go to 80 patients a day. But if your mindset is, hey, I’m at 23 and this is hard and this is as far as I can get, then guess what? That’s as far as you’re going to get.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, we were bringing this up with our team the other day because we’re, again, in surge, there’s a lot going on and I, kind of, brought up a mid surge, right? Again, our team is doing a stellar job knocking things out of the park. But saying, they’re talking about how surge is a lot of work and I said, you know what? We’re so blessed because we only have to do this a few times a year. Whereas, if you worked in a dental office, this is what I chose, if you worked in a dental office or any other medical practice, they do surge every single day for 48 weeks a year. And you’re lucky if you get two to four weeks off from that surge mentality, it’s surge all of the time in those offices, versus we can be very intentional about our lifestyle.
So, back to the capacity question, rule of success number two, be intentional. So, what is our intention, right? And maybe this is a little bit of word terminology but words matter in this and say, great, when I say I’m at capacity, I’m putting this fake limit on what I can do. Now, if you want to say, look, I only want to work four weeks a quarter. Okay, well, perfect, right? Now we’re being intentional and maybe you’re at “capacity” for that four weeks a quarter. I still wouldn’t call it that, I would say, great, I’ve filled my calendar for how much I want to work. Perfect, I am full in that period in time that I want to be… Now, if I want to see more clients, I can work longer, I can reschedule my meetings, right? I am still not at capacity. Even with 200 households and I’m going down to 100, I am not at capacity, I could easily double the number of clients I have.
Matthew Jarvis: Totally. And, Micah, this is something that comes up in our masterminds all the time. We look at it from a mindset of, not I’m at capacity but how would I double, if I needed to double the number of clients I was serving, I need to 5X the number of clients I serve. And for advisors who feel like you’re at capacity, and I 100% believe you, I believe in my heart of hearts that you feel like you’re at your absolute limit. But if there’s somebody else who’s serving more clients than you are, then it has to be possible.
One advisor I met at XYPN, great guy, he actually took a month to motorcycle tour around Vietnam, which was super cool. He works with about 60 clients, representing 80 million in assets, working part-time with no employees. So, he says, Jarvis, do you think I can make it to 100 million in assets with no employees? I said, man, if you’ve made it this far, you can make it to 100 million. I wouldn’t want to do it, that’s not the practice life I would choose but we’re just showing that, even in advisors that have no team members, which I think is a bad plan, but even those people can still get to, geez, $100 million in assets, it can be done.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And I agree with you. I would say, team members are essential, right? Even if they’re remote work, even if they’re contractors, et cetera, but team members are central. Now, if you have no team members and you’re growing like crazy, over 60 million in assets plus and you want to have a conversation, I would love to have you on the pod and chat about that. Because, you have hacked some pretty interesting things to get there without any team members. The rest of us mere mortals, team members are huge, right? They really help us grow, they allow us to on the best value of our time. And Jarvis, that’s the point that I would get out in the capacity is, when people say, we’re at capacity, are you really focused on the best use of your time? Or are you playing office 90% of the time or more? I’m going to argue, at least, talking to some of these advisors, that they’re playing office 90% of the time.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. That’s right. Because a lot of times I would ask them, well, 23 or 27 or whatever that number was, how did you get to that number? And they would say, well, I got to that many clients and I just felt like I couldn’t take on anymore. Okay, so this wasn’t being intentional. Micah, an exercise you always take advisors through is, mapping out the hours that are in a year, back out their vacation days. We won’t necessarily do it on the podcast but really, for any advisor to say, how many hours am I spending in the office? And how many of those hours are directly client facing and all others are playing office?
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. Another mental hack that I love to use, Jarvis, and I use this one on my myself because, again, some of my natural thoughts, the first thoughts in my mind, are negative when something comes up. This can’t be done, this can’t happen, et cetera. And it’s something I have to be active in combating. Which is, kind of, unfortunately, I don’t want to be in mixed mindset, it is what it is right now and this is how I’m dealing with it. So, one of the things that I love to say is, okay, great. Whenever I get a new idea or pushback and I don’t think it’s possible, can at least two other people in the world do this?
And I can’t use one because I would justify that as superhuman strength with some person, right? One person is unique, two people is duplicatable. If, at least, two other people in the world can do this, this is a duplicatable skill that now I can learn and now I can do and now I can implement. So, for me, that’s a really good mental hack that I can resonate with, hey, have two other people done this? Yes, perfect. That means I can do this as well.
Matthew Jarvis: I love it, I love it. A lot of advisors, we would talk about capacity and they would say, oh I have 23 or 27 clients. I’d say, well we’re at 150, 160. They say, well, how is that possible? An easy one, which you talk about on this podcast all the time, Micah, is email, right? So, study after study shows, the average person spends three to four hours a day on email. So, I could tell them, hey, listen, just by delegating my email, I’ve doubled, doubled, my capacity and there are dozens of other things like that. I think email, Micah, is the most egregious but there’s several of those where we can say, all right. If you feel like you’re at capacity odds are, you’re spending a lot of time in email, you’re spending a lot of time planning out at Morningstar, whatever the case may be. We could hack some serious time out of your schedule.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. Email’s one of those things that’s so convincing that you’re actually being productive with your time. I should say, deceiving that you’re being productive with your time, right? Because you’re checking things off a list, they’re disappearing out of your inbox, you feel like you’re responding to someone, you’re analyzing, you’re doing all these things. When really, you’re just playing office 99% of the time. So, granted, no, we’re not talking about the 1% of communication that you need to be involved in but that’s 1% of communication. 99% of those communication should be handled by your office for two reasons. Number one, the client is going to probably get a better response to their questions and more timely because you should be in meetings with clients and building a practice.
And then, number two, this empowers your team for knowledge and education. So, now when my team can’t answer an email and they come to me to find out what the answer is, perfect, this is a wonderful learning opportunity that now my team gets to grow in this area of expertise. Had I had handled it for them, my team is not going to grow in those areas. That means, I always have to handle those types of communications but now my team is learning and understanding. So, again, their expertise is all is growing, as is mine, which makes it phenomenal.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, speaking of your team, I noticed that every one of these advisors I talked to, who said they were at capacity, had no employees, not a virtual employee, not a part-time employee, just straight no employees. And on this podcast we are known for having strong opinions on things because—
Micah Shilanski: Really?
Matthew Jarvis: We’re successful. We’re known for having strong opinions. My opinion, Micah, and I’d love for you to push back on this or jump on board with it is, if you are running a 100% solo shop, you’re not a professional, you’re playing office around the world. I can’t actually think of any exceptions I would justify for not having, at least, a virtual assistant, a part-time virtual assistant. Because if you’re going to your clients and you’re saying, hey, I’m going to charge whatever your fee is and you’re also the person checking the mail, there’s just such a disconnect there, right? No high level professional is doing this completely alone.
Micah Shilanski: Exactly. Take any other profession, right? Step out of finance just for fun, take any other professional service that’s out there and the top players in that field aren’t taking out the trash and vacuuming. And these tasks aren’t beneath them, right? So, don’t even get on that bandwagon. It’s what is the best use of time. And, again, checking the mail, you should not be doing, it is not the best use of your time. And by the way, email is called electronic mail, just to draw those dots together for you, you should not be checking the mail in any capacity. Either, the team should be empowered to help with that.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Because what you’re doing, right? You’re saying that, my client’s time is less important than me checking the mail, it’s less important than me sending out the paperwork, right? Never mind that you’re probably not doing a great job at that and it’s distracting you but you are saying that, hey, I would rather spend my time playing office than serving clients. And even if you say, hey, listen, 25 is my number and I thought about this and this is as many clients as I want. Think about how much more value you can deliver to those 25 clients, if somebody else is doing this other work that’s not highest and best use of your time. And so, we had advisors ask, say, hey, could you do some episodes for people that have no employees? This is that episode, hire an employee.
Micah Shilanski: Hire an employee. You know what? The other thing that we’re going to get in this concept is, well, I only have X amount of clients because I do comprehensive planning. Now, this is definitely a pet peeve, especially when you’re at another financial planning conference and an advisor saying, well, I do comprehensive planning. Okay, well, what you’re saying, just to be clear, is nobody else there does, you are the only one that’s special and unique. And unfortunately, here’s the reality, you’re not a unicorn, you’re not special and unique, the vast majority of financial planners do comprehensive planning.
So, you don’t get to hide behind that anymore as an excuse, as to why it takes so much time working with a client, you haven’t implemented time hacks to add massive value to your client and reduce your time. That’s the reality. If you’re limiting yourself because you do “comprehensive planning” and everyone else out there who is highly successful in your area has more clients and is doing comprehensive planning, that’s not a real excuse. This means, you haven’t become hyper-efficient with your time. How long does it take you to create a financial plan? We’ve had a podcast on this, right? Do you put an egg timer on that says, I’m not spending any more than 45 minutes on this. And when this egg timer goes off, I am leaving and I cannot touch it until tomorrow. It’s amazing what deadlines do, forcing us to get amazing things done.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And it’s also, this goes back to these limiting beliefs, this head trash, right? Like, my situation is unique, therefore, I can’t do these other things. These systems that have worked in so many perfect RAs, they can’t work from me, right? I work with complicated situations with executive comp. Yep, we have advisors who run wildly successful practices in that area. Any niche or area you can think of, we’ve got advisors that have implemented surge meetings, that have implemented email delegation and have doubled, tripled, quadrupled, their productivity. And then, that time either goes to serving more clients or it intentionally goes to spending more time with their family or some combination of the two. But, again, it goes back to that rule B, intentional. By not hiring, I think, your intentionality is, I’m going to take the lazy route out. And I know that’s a strong angle to take, that’s what we do on this podcast. You’re doing your clients a disservice if you’re not… if you’re sending an email, you’re doing your clients a disservice.
Micah Shilanski: Well, and let’s focus on that. Hiring somebody is a lot of work, especially zero to one. That is a huge increase in workload and I don’t want to short change that, right? It’s a lot of work, it’s a pain in the butt. You got to freaking do the interviews, you got to post the ads, you got to do the interviews. Even if you hired someone to help with that. And there’s agencies that you can hire that specialize in helping hiring backend office for financial planning firms. So, there are agencies that you can hire and that’s really what we would recommend to do, have them do most of the screening. But guess what? You still got to do the interview and when that’s done, you still got to train them, you still got to supervise them, you still have to do these things.
So, we agree, it is work and I don’t want to shy away from that. The question is, are you going to be doing this job for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 plus years or not? Now, if you’re willing to do this for another year, eh, okay, fine, don’t hire somebody, fair enough. I don’t know if I’d put that energy in, if I was selling out and wrapping up in a year. Short of that, if you’re going to be here for any period of time, investing in your business is getting the right team to deliver massive value to your clients and not resting solely on you.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And a real advantage that advisors have today that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago. Micah, I hate to acknowledge that you and I were in the industry more years ago than that. A real advantage exists today are all of the virtual assistants that are available. Now, I’m not talking about the $5 an hour virtual assistants coming out of third world countries, I’m talking about highly qualified, domestic-based virtual assistance that you can get at 10 hours a week, at 20 hours a week, that they’re not on your payroll, right? They’re a contract employee, so you can fire or hire them as you please. There’s so many resources, in fact, XYPN just release a resource for that, I haven’t vetted it myself. I would imagine that anything they do is great. But to hire someone even for 10 hours a week or 20 hours a week and start handing off to them tasks, even non-client facing tasks, will incredibly increase your productivity.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And the biggest thing when you hire an employee and I know this is a slightly off tangent on where we’re at, biggest thing when hiring an employee is to really empower them by delegating tasks, right? You are not doing any service to them whatsoever by retaining a lot of tasks. You need to push as much and as fast to that employee as you can. Can they hack it or can they not? Is really one of the things you’re finding out. The other thing you’re finding out is, what areas do they specialize in? Again, Jarvis, you’ve done a phenomenal job with Colleen, she kind of fits two roles, an RM and an Ops person. A lot of people don’t fit those two roles, so which side of the fence are they on? Finding that out sooner, to make sure it’s the right seats on the bus, is really important.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Even small things, something that we’re starting to implement in our office, using Ruby Receptionist to help screen out all of the spam calls that come in. There are a lot of tools available, where you can… And, again, you may decide, hey, 25 clients are all the clients I want to serve. But if that’s my number, I want to serve them as efficiently and as effectively as possible, so I can deliver as much value as I can while I’m in the office. And then, when I’m out of the office, I can leave that all to the side. So, it’s really, the number’s not the issue, the issue is if you’re saying, hey, I’m at some kind of limit, those are always self-imposed.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And the biggest thing is the lying to yourself. The saying I’m at capacity when I’m at a handful of clients, just isn’t the case. Again, be intentional. If that’s where you want, that’s the lifestyle you want, sweet, rock that and say, look, I’ve built my firm, this is how many clients I want. Rock on. Don’t be delusional thinking you’re at capacity and you can’t grow, because we all can grow.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And some of this, Micah, comes back to, we always like to say, if willpower were enough, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Any place where we have a weakness in our willpower, it’s really easy to say, oh, it’s not that I don’t want to go through all that hard effort to hire somebody, it’s just that I’m at capacity and so, I don’t need to hire someone. Look for that head trash, because we’re very good at putting head trash in front of whatever limiting belief we have.
Micah Shilanski: Yep. Another thing that can really come up is paperwork. There’s still a decent amount of advisors doing a lot of their own paperwork. That needs to stop, right? The only thing you should be doing with paperwork is signing it. Other than that, everything else should be done. So, this is the same, kind of, concept of email is, well, nobody else can do it. Really, the client has a question just for me, yada-yada, nope. Any conference calls with third-parties should be done by team members, any paperwork should be 100% done by team members. And the initial line of response for any client communication should all be done by team members. And if your team member cannot handle that, you may have the wrong team member, that’s what that shows us, right?
Because, again, if we take this other role, can at least two other advisors do this anywhere in the United States? The answer is, yes, it’s Jarvis and I, right? We can do it. There are hundreds of advisors that are on The Perfect RIA backstage pass, they are or moving this direction as well and more than half of them have team members and assistants that can do this as well. So, this is all very doable things.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, it is. Another thing that could really help break through this capacity mindset, right? Which is all head trash is, and this is something we’ve talked about a lot, is how having a mastermind. We just did a webinar on this a few weeks ago, the importance of masterminds. I thought, Micah, and I’ll just confess again for mine, for years, I thought I can’t hire another advisor to be on my team and I had all these reasons, the liability, the headache, I can’t find someone as good as me, yada, yada, yada, all these excuses. And then, in a mastermind we said, all right, it’s possible, people are doing it. One of the guys in our mastermind had done this successfully many times, set up extreme accountability around that. As you all may recall, that involved my Tesla and Uber pool which, thankfully, that did not come to fruition but it was talking to advisors who say, Jarvis, that’s a limiting belief, that’s head trash, I hired somebody and it worked, lots of people hired somebody and it worked, you can do it too.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. All right, Jarvis, this podcast is all about action items, so let’s go ahead and focus on, especially this Christmas week, what action items and things can we be thinking about during this time? One, you should be having a lot of time off and you know what? With time off, that doesn’t mean we stop our PD, our personal development, especially our entrepreneurial mindset, right? We always crave to grow and to do these things. So, just because we’re taking time out of the office, doesn’t mean we need to stop PD. This is a great time that I maybe change where I’m looking at getting PD, I look in different sources but I’m definitely going to fill that need when I’m not meeting with clients with more PD, that’s personal development.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that, I love that. And to do it away from your computer. I keep a couple of whiteboards up in the wall of my home office. And even last night, I was just, kind of, sitting at my office, sort of, meditating, looking at my hand drawn out business plan so that I’m not distracted by the computer. But yeah, the PD is essential.
Micah Shilanski: That’s great.
Matthew Jarvis: Next action item, do the math on paper, not in your mind, on paper, of your capacity. So, that’s where you would take, how many work hours are there in a year? About 2000. Or how many weeks in the year? And then, break that down and say, how much time do I want to spend in front of clients? How many weeks do I want to spend in surge? Therefore, with that intentionality, how many clients can I serve? Back into it, don’t look at it from, well, I’m here and it’s hard and therefore, I can’t go any further.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. Number two or, I guess, this is number three, change your mindset, really, really important here, right? Look and see, who has double your “capacity”, who’s at double the level of clients, double the level of success that you’re currently at and how are they doing that? Now, real quick, one thing that we instantly do, and we found this a lot in the BD world, when you start seeing people that are double years, well, clearly that’s because they’re doing A, B and C and I would never do that. And you start coming up with all these excuses that are not real. So, no, someone’s at double your capacity, someone’s at double your success, for a reason, learn what those reasons are and say, great, how can you apply them to your service model, your practice, et cetera?
Matthew Jarvis: Well, I love that. And I think, Micah, that ties to our last action item which is, find things that are trigger words for you or what I would call excuses or head trash, right? We all have things like, I’m at capacity, that’s what we’ve been talking about today. That is a trigger word for, this is hard and I don’t want to find a solution. I’m a comprehensive financial planner, therefore, I can’t do this. Again, trigger word, you’re finding an excuse for why you can’t be more productive or why someone else is more successful than you are.
Micah Shilanski: Awesome. Well, Jarvis, like always, this has been a blast. Thank you for taking the time and going through this. And I hope this is really motivational and encouraging to a lot of advisors, because there’s almost nothing we cannot do in this field. Blessed to be a part of this, blessed to be a part, really excited about 2022 and all the exciting things that are coming out across the board.
Matthew Jarvis: Love it. Well, until next time, Merry Christmas and happy planning.
Micah Shilanski: Merry Christmas.
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