Hands Off

Hands Off

Financial advisor Kristin Harad is a master at finding other people to do her work for her.

She’s not lazy, nor does she possess Tom Sawyer’s ability to convince others that chores are actually fun. As a lone practitioner and a marketing consultant to other financial advisors, Harad understands more than most the value of time. Whether it’s finding a video editor for her site, Next10Clients, or simply transferring data from an old PC to a new Mac, she is looking to maximize her time anyway she can.

Based in San Francsico and being a tech-savvy type, Harad often turns to online sources to outsource some basic functions. TaskRabbit, for example, lets pre-screened job seekers bid on small jobs like taking clothes to the laundromat, basic office help or pet sitting. She also used Fiverr, an online bulletin board connecting job seekers with providers and where fees start as low as $5 for a quick gig.

 “The dream of being an advisor is creating freedom in your life and a fulfilling practice,” says Harad. “But what happens is advisors get inundated and overwhelmed by all the tasks that running a business requires. And that kills the dream of what it is you want to be doing.”

Today many reps are looking to push out nearly every part of their advisory businesses. Sure, technology support and marketing help are areas where many would consider hiring outside help. But reps are also outsourcing far more, including core areas of their jobs such as management of their client’s holdings.

Wealth management firm Northern Trust recently released a survey of 510 advisors in October, and discovered that 60% outsourced the management of more than half their clients assets. Why? More time to spend with clients and prospects, the advisors said. By delegating the investing to another source, advisors had more flexibility to spend on other areas of their business.

Eric Schweitzer, senior vice president at Northern Trust and a former advisor himself, believes th practice will grow as advisors feel pressure to devote even more attention to clients. He saw the survey as a confirmation that reps are looking for partners in to help craft client portfolios, particularly as the market has grown more complicated. Many advisors are not investment experts but still want to provide clients with the best and most consistent returns.

“Their practice can be compromised if they’re spending time on investments, due diligence and asset allocations,” he says. “That takes away from what they’re good at which is acquiring and gathering clients.”

But there were other tasks that reps in the Northern Trust survey were happy to outsource, including quarterly billing, record keeping, account on-boarding and performance reporting.

Even while many are comfortably outsourcing, 54% of the reps surveyed still consider it their job to keep those tasks close at hand. “They truly believe investment management is integral to their firm’s value proposition,” says Laura Gregg, vice president at Northern Trust.

The disparity can be in part attributed to generational differences, said Jennifer Goldman, president of My Virtual COO (www.myvirtualcoo.com), an online outsourcing firm that caters to advisors. She says younger reps seem better able to grasp the temporal nature of the work world, and are comfortable transitioning tasks to virtual assistants.

“The younger generation of advisors are all about outsourcing,” she says. “They look at other advisors and say, ‘That’s hard to manage everything.’”

Harad concurs. There’s no shame, she believes, in finding a trusted source to handle tasks that help advisors streamline their days more effectively. For some that may mean outsourcing their technology needs, while other reps may enjoy those digital details. And while some advisors relish getting their hands into the investing mix, others should feel fine about handing that piece of their practice to another. The goal is to find balance while keeping their clients content.

“You want to spend time with your clients, or doing the technical work you enjoy like planning, or investment management, or taxes,” she says. “Outsourcing allows you that freedom. And nothing beats tossing it over the wall.”

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