Since March, the market has bounced back and the doom and gloom most investors and advisors felt has faded. But the new market environment has left many advisors rudderless. The adrenaline rush of putting out fires and solving catastrophes has dissolved, and many advisors are having a hard time putting a proactive — rather than reactive — strategy back in place. Too many advisors tell me they're sitting at their desks with blank calendars, idle telephones and paperwork piling up.
Financial advisors are generally quick thinkers and novelty seekers, and become bored and frustrated easily by a lack of stimulation and structure in their work environment. Ted, one such advisor, recently sought me out for behavioral management training. Ted, 38, is an average producer in his branch. He told me that over the last seven to eight months he had been distracted at work, focusing on his iPhone applications, fantasy football, and personal calls. The other advisors on his team felt he wasn't carrying his weight, didn't use his time wisely and would try to delegate paperwork and follow up calls to his already overworked administrative assistant.
When I asked to see his daily planner, he opened up a bound calendar book to the present date. When I flipped through it, I noticed that my appointment was the only one scheduled for the day and the rest of his pages were blank. He proceeded to tell me he had been feeling deflated since his phone stopped ringing off the hook. “Even when clients called to yell at me almost a year ago, it was more exciting around here,” he said. Without the adrenaline produced by constant crisis and client demands, he had lost his concentration and begun to procrastinate.
As Ted well knows, even without a collapsing market, the work of a financial advisor can be very hectic. The only way for an advisor to maintain discipline and focus is to set clear guidelines for time management and organization. Here are two helpful tips that allowed Ted to organize himself and get back into a self-starter mentality:
Ride The Wave: Everyone is more or less productive at different times of the day. Make sure you know what time of day is best for you and concentrate on completing your most difficult tasks and projects during this time. Ted had trouble focusing on follow up calls to some of his difficult clients in the morning because he felt unprepared to deal with them. We discovered that if he spent time doing research in the morning, and warmed up with easier clients in the early afternoon, he tended to feel more confident about following up with his tougher calls later in the day.
Impose Your Own Structure: If Ted continued to wait for someone to fill his calendar up with appointments and tasks, his business would have fallen apart. I encouraged him to sit at his desk every evening before he left work and fill up his schedule for the following day. I encouraged him to put his priorities first in pen and “housekeeping” activities in pencil. It can be very inspiring to know that you have a good reason to go to work each day and a scheduled plan to follow. Ted took it a step further, and asked the advisors on his team to hold him accountable for meeting his daily goals, printing out a copy of his daily schedule for them each night. They agreed to call him out if he got off track.
Dr. Alden Cass is a New York City-based clinical psychologist and performance coach for Wall Street advisors, traders and bankers. For more info visit competitive-streak.com.