Apr 22 2022 / Round the Table Magazine
Check your ego at the door
By Clay Gillespie, CFP, CIM
Seeing the big picture is difficult if you spend too much time working in your business rather than on it. If you’re handling too many administrative duties, you’re losing time that should be focused on value-added activities and reaching other goals that can move you to Court of the Table and ultimately to Top of the Table.
During your early days as an advisor, perhaps you spent hours on the computer running reports and financial projections, and handling office tasks because you had a small pool of clients and you needed to be cost conscious. But now it’s time to delegate. Hire an assistant. Pushing tasks to somebody who can perform them cheaper than you is a good move because doing that busy work yourself is keeping you from being successful. You’ll find there are many people who enjoy this type of work, and they can be a very successful part of your team.
Second, trust your employees. If you’ve hired a team member for a particular task, let them do it their way. Realize that employees have different methods for completing these duties and still reach the outcome you want.
Third, don’t micromanage. If you can’t let go of the reins and allow your team member to handle administrative functions, then all you accomplished is adding more overhead cost while reaping half the benefit. Start getting people involved by having employees sit in on meetings with you. This inclusiveness will make their job easier because they’ll understand what you do and what you’re asking for.
Take delegation to the next level
So far, you delegated some day-to-day functions to free up your time to work on more productive, client-facing activities. But I will argue that you’re only halfway there. True and deeper delegation is the stage where you can go from an MDRT-level producer to Court of the Table or Top of the Table.
To really embrace productive delegation, you must start handing off client-facing activities. You may believe that you are the face of the organization and holding on will ensure that client interaction is handled the way you want to do them. That might work, but you need to build the perception of a strong and competent firm in the eyes of clients and prospects. If you don’t, every single client interaction will have to go through you, and you will be constantly putting out fires rather than working on building your business. Spend time and effort extending your client relationships to include your team. Doing so will enable you to scale your business in so many more ways beyond basic delegation. After all, clients are more comfortable knowing there’s a team behind you because they don’t always have to talk to you to get their things done.
Let go of your ego
Delegating is a difficult transition for advisors because we’ve built our careers on being client focused and the face of the organization. Now it’s time to step away and let team members become more prevalent in the eyes of your clients. It’s very difficult but necessary to master the next level of delegation because you’re building a business, not a lifestyle practice.
If you don’t delegate client-facing activities, you won’t realize the full benefits of delegating. Everything in your practice is not there to support you. We may assume we are the driving force, but everybody on the team should be there to support the business. So, you need to adjust from expecting services to be provided to you, and rather make sure your firm is delivering the appropriate offerings to your clients at the right time. Make your team more important than you in the eyes of your clients. A big ego is bad for building a business.
In addition to having team members sit in on meetings, have them present the financial plans they’re already creating and assign them to call clients after all the quarterly statements. As you have them start building client relationships, give them opportunities to provide advice. When you receive an email, allow your staff member to answer it. Instead of personally responding to a phone message from a client, have a team member handle it.
Teach and technology
Prepare your team to be more successful by immersing them in the learning process. Let them prepare the file and include them in strategy sessions. Discussing client situations with all your employees ingrains in them the type of advice you would give and how you would give it. You can’t just expect your staff to know that. Also, you have a certain style, a certain strategy, and you want to expose that knowledge to your entire team. The result should be that whenever clients talk to anyone at your company, it’s as if they’re talking to you and hearing your strategy. Meanwhile, you can increase your productivity by devoting more time with higher-revenue-producing clients and on other value-added activities.
We may assume we are the driving force, but everybody on the team should be there to support the business.
Finally, embrace technology. Even though you delegated client-facing responsibilities to your team, if you are stuck doing some functions the same old way, completing those tasks may be taking too much time and effort. Adopt and learn what technology can do to make your process more efficient, which in turn can make delegating more productive.
Not only can delegating help your business grow faster, but it can also make your firm more attractive to sell because you’re not the only person in the business. You have a team that delivers a consistent, repeatable service to clients. Delegating is not about servicing you the advisor. It’s about building a business and making sure all the activities are being taken care of by the appropriate people. By using the best way to provide consistent service to your clients, you will establish a more profitable and enjoyable business model.
Clay Gillespie is a 21-year MDRT member from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View Gillespie’s presentation from the 2020 MDRT Annual Meeting and Global Conference Virtual Event at mdrt.org.