So, RRSP season is done and over with. If you’re anything like the advisors in the Finaeo community, this has been a brutally busy, hyper stressful month for you. And now, the smoke’s cleared and you’ve probably had the first chance in quite a while to take a deep, relaxing breath of fresh air (though, if you’re a parent, your kids are probably on March break right now and at home, so maybe not).
This blog was inspired by a question that came in to Donald through our Ask the Coach series. One of our viewers, Jess, asked him the following question:
“I just had a hectic RRSP season, but now that spring break is here and the kids are off, everything is feeling a little bit slower. I was wondering what you do during this time. Do you prepare for your upcoming season or quarter, or do you just rest and relax?”
In Donald’s response, he gave a high level overview of the five things that he did this spring break and recommended other financial advisors do as well. Now, note that this is caveated heavily – if you’ve had a really stressful period, you owe it to yourself to spend some time resting and relaxing. After all, you need to be rejuvenated to do a great job. And, like an athlete looking for peak performance, you need to take some downtime to have a better season. So take a few days to yourself, enjoy lounging around, go on a hike, do some yoga, binge watch a Netflix show, or whatever it is you do to unwind.
Then get up off the couch and do the next five things:
- Reflect on your last quarter
- Plan your future campaigns
- Review your business metrics
- Evaluate your staffing needs
- Evaluate your use of technology
Since the video only clocked in at about 90 seconds, and Donald had a lot more to say, we wanted to elaborate on these five points more thoroughly.
Reflect On Your Last Quarter
The first thing Donald does during spring break is reflect on his previous quarter. This is all about evaluating the results of your actions. More importantly, it’s about trying to understand what actions you took that drove you towards these results. Perhaps you tried different marketing or sales tactics, perhaps you tried a different way of advising your clients, or perhaps you’ve stopped taking meetings in the office and have become mobile, going to your clients’ offices instead.
Sometimes the differences are more nuanced – maybe you’ve started sending out thank you notes or recap emails right after a meeting, and all of a sudden you had an awesome quarter. Your goal here is pattern recognition. It’s to figure out which actions you took led to positive results so you can repeat them and to figure out which actions you too led to negative results so you can make sure to avoid them in the future.
Did you make any catastrophic mistakes? Maybe you lost your cool with a prospect who was wasting your time, and word spread? Maybe you completely forgot to get some work done for a client that you promised to do. Whatever it is, this is a good time to spend some thought on how you can avoid repeating this mistake in the future. What processes or systems can you put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Now is the time to think it over and set it up.
Plan Out Future Campaigns
After a hectic season, it’s also always a great time to plan. At the beginning of each quarter, Donald sits down and writes out a plan for his next three months. This plan involves multiple pieces. He will consider what new marketing or sales campaigns he should try, if there are new processes worth testing, and what new tactics are worth experimenting with. Notice that we are talking in terms of experimentation – never get too attached to an idea. Try it out, see how it’s working (preferably track it with some quantifiable metrics), and if it goes well – awesome. If not, no big loss.
Also, make sure you write your plan down. This is for a few reasons. First, it keeps you committed. Psychologically, writing it down creates a feeling of ownership and reality. You won’t forget that this is something you were planning to do and, just as importantly, you can’t pretend that it isn’t a big deal that you didn’t follow through on the commitment. It creates a record for you and helps keep you focused. Second, it allows you to reassess it in a future quarter. In the previous suggest, we talked about reflecting on your last quarter. The value of writing down a plan is it allows you to reflect on what went right and wrong with this plan.
Once you’ve decided on your new list of activities, create a timeline for them. Make this timeline realistic – you are only one person, so don’t overload yourself with a plethora of new things all at once. If you want to try spending more time on social media, as well as writing a blog, and you want to adopt better client follow-up processes, focus on one per month. Turn it into a habit and, once it is, move forward to the next thing.
Review Your Book
The third thing Donald recommends is that you take some time to review your business metrics. I’ve written at length about the metrics that matter for a financial advisor. When you have a slower period, it is the perfect time to review your book of business and your overall strategy.
In terms of your book, this is a good time to do some analysis on your clients. Figure out which of your clients need more attention. Are there any you haven’t reached out to in a long time that you probably should? Are there some low value clients that have been taking up all of your time that you need to consider reducing your attention on? Try to evaluate your clients in a quantifiable way if possible – how much are they worth to you and how much do you think they will be in the future? One common technique is to sort clients into A, B, C, and D level clients. A-clients get the most attention and are worth the most to your business. D-clients are the opposite. However, clients change over time. Your former B-clients may become A-clients or vice versa due to situational changes. As such, the quiet time during spring break is a great time to re-evaluate and re-categorize your clients appropriately.
Likewise, take a look at your overall sales & marketing strategies. Are the expenses you are generating leading to commission? Are you spending money in ways that aren’t generating a good return? Now is the time to figure it out. Figure out which channels are producing customers and which are failing to do so. Moreover, for the channels that are productive, try to figure out how many dollars you’ve spent and what income it drove for you. This is a good time to cull poorly producing channels and strategies, so take some time to identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Evaluate Your Staffing Needs
This is also a great time to consider your staffing needs. Are you feeling swamped? Are you always just trying to catch up on your email? Are you starting to forget what you promised your client, or finding yourself working until 9pm regularly? Or do you find yourself in regular situations where you wish you could clone yourself, because you simply can’t make it to the multiple meetings you’d like to book? If so, this may be a good time to evaluate your staffing requirements.
Often times, advisors wait far too long to hire either an administrative assistant or a junior financial advisor. They worry that they can’t afford the hire. Often, this worry continues even when times are going well – there always remains a fear that a down season may be right around the corner and they won’t be able to afford such a hire in the future. But, honestly, if you’re working insane hours, you should consider a few things.
First, a second body will allow you to refocus your energies on high-value activities for your existing clients, as well as prospecting. An assistant allows you to outsource administrative work that keeps you away from building client relationships, old and new. Another advisor helps you prospect and take more meetings, while splitting the commission. In the long run, both are likely net gains to a booming business.
Second, by saving time, you can make sure that you’re not letting clients slip through the cracks. As mentioned above, even athletes can only peak for so long. You can only burn the candle from both ends for so long – keep working until 9pm every night and you’re going to suffer from serious burnout. When that happens, the quality of your work will suffer. You’ll find yourself losing clients, forgetting tasks, and all around underperforming. Hiring someone to help you will allow you to stay fresh. Your clients will thank you for it, and, in return, your business will thrive.
Evaluate Your Technology
This wouldn’t be a Finaeo blog if we didn’t talk at least a little bit about technology. As we’ve previously discussed, the future of the financial advisor is to become a bionic advisor. In light of that, there are technologies you can start adopting today to make you much more efficient. During March break, it’s a great time for a financial advisor such as yourself to step back and consider what gaps in performance existed. Could any of them be remedied through the use of technology?
Some simple examples – are you finding yourself sending the same email to a few dozen emails in a very tedious process? Maybe it’s time to look into a mass emailing service such as Mailchimp. Is your website completely outdated? Maybe you should check out advisor websites and get it rebuilt. Are you struggling with keeping track of your clients or remembering to follow up with them? Maybe it’s time to jump on the Finaeo beta! 😉
Overall, you cannot be afraid of technology. Financial advisors who take advantage of it are going to continue outperforming those who try to stick with the old ways. Unfortunately, the market is changing drastically. Clients are demanding more than ever, and if you don’t adapt, you will be left behind. A quiet period after RRSP season is a great time to try out some new software.