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This article first appeared on RIA Biz

Did you become an independent financial advisor to manage the nitty-gritty of your entire practice? Or was your real mission to serve clients “the right way” and safeguard their wealth?

Way too often, the “busy-ness” of business gets in the way of an advisory firm owner’s best intentions of growing a practice. The secret is to catch yourself at the point where you begin to wear too many hats. If you don’t, client services, your bottom line, and your personal life are sure to suffer.

An Honest Look

If a business owner isn’t careful, your business model may resemble a job with very long hours and a paycheck rather than a business. When this happens you’ll end up working “in” your business, instead of “on” your business as a boss.

Often advisor-owners will be heard saying, “I’m overwhelmed, working 60+ hours a week, trying to service my current clients the right way, and I don’t have time to do much else — let alone bring on more clients.” You’ll never hear them say, “I’m not coming in today, I decided to take the day off!” or “I’m going on vacation for the month. My team can handle it!” This is because when they take any time off, their firm makes no money. Nada, not a penny.

If you’ve been running a solo practice for a while or are responsible for your own book of business, chances are that your practice is running you instead of you owning a business. It’s like you’re captaining a burning ship — running a business stuck in “practice mode” and frantically putting out fires.

Often, independent financial advisor-owners get to this point and start questioning if they’re in the right profession–or wondering if they should go work for a company again! The answer can usually be found by planning for and developing the right team to service clients and run the firm for you.

Take a look at the list below and review all the tasks you’re trying to do by yourself. It is an exhausting list!

• President/CEO
• Salesperson
• Purchasing manager
• Business planner
• Planner
• Trader
• Office manager
• Event planner
• Technology specialist
• Speaker, trainer
• Coach and/or consultant
• Social networking/internet guru
• Human services manager
• Marketing director
• Accounting/finance manager
• Compliance/legal manager
• Desktop publisher/designer
• Customer service rep
• Quality control manager
• Para-planner
• Organizer
• Writer
• Janitor
• Interior Designer
• Assistant to you
• And at a minimum, assistants to all the managers/specialists above

Make the Shift

When you are determined and make the shift from running a practice to owning a business, your entire operation and culture will reflect the change. You become the CEO of your business, looking at it from a bird’s-eye view. Your activities are focused on what you enjoy doing the most and on the best use of your time.

Transitioning from being a lone advisor-owner to the CEO of your firm starts with three shifts:
1) shift in your mindset about hiring others and delegating
2) shift in your business structure
3) shift in developing and putting processes and systems into righting

Begin the mindset change by looking at your business for what it truly is; a place to service clients the way they deserve to be serviced, a great investment of your time and talents, your retirement nest egg, a valuable asset to sell later, or a legacy to leave behind.

Advisor-CEOs give themselves the gift of time and others the gift of a paycheck (and the pleasant experience of working with a well-rested boss), when they hire a team.

Who Should Be On Your Team?

Advisor-CEOs plan for the growth of their firm. If you’re a financial advisor who is ready to start planning for growth, below is a list of activities you’re probably working overtime “in” your business in order to best service clients.

Your team can consist of part-time or full-time employees. They can work for you virtually or they can work in your office. They can also be consultants you hire on a project basis.

  1. Operations
  2. Administration
  3. Marketing
  4. Sales
  5. Human Resources
  6. Technology
  7. Client Services
  8. Research & Development
  9. Finance & Accounting
  10. Facilities/Logistics
  11. Compliance/Legal

Most of the above listed tasks are better left to your team members and technology. Once you have reassigned all your firm’s busy-ness activities (See Action Step), your business will operate like a well-oiled machine on most days.

Take Steps Today

Today, take a step towards being a CEO. Look to get rid of as many hats as possible and create a more sustainable, scaleable business model based on living your ideal life and owning an ideal business. If you aren’t yet able to hire more employees or consultants, create a 12-month plan and start taking the steps to get there.

Transform your business model into one that serves your life and allows you to help as many people as possible, fulfilling many dreams in the process—which is the real reason you started your business to begin with, right?

Action step

Ask me for a copy of my client “Activity Audit”.   You’ll use it to record the accumulated tasks you do daily, monthly, quarterly, etc.

For this system to work, there is no need to record how much time each task takes, unless you also want to.  It’s more important, in part 1 of this system, to see what the tasks are, so you can determine which tasks to delegate.

The process of filling in an Activity Audit can, over time, help you to reduce the number of ‘hats’ you wear. Here are some of it’s benefits:

  • help you spend more time with your clients.
  • delegate fairly across your team
  • determine hiring gaps
  • define more accurately job descriptions
  • be used to determine who to cross-train
  • plan for future hires
  • be a first step towards living a better life.

It’s time to take all those hats off your head, and lighten up!

(c) 2012 Updated 2019, 2021 Elevating Your Business

So what system do you use to work smarter? Share your thoughts in the comments below!