Control Yourself: Better Time Management, Better Business

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Financial planning is no easy gig.

It involves working nights, weekends, and overtime. That’s a lot of time poured into your work.

But according to the inaugural study by FPA’s Research and Practice Institute™, many planners don’t feel they’re in control of that time or their business.

FPA’s recently released 2014 Time Management and Productivity study indicated time management is an important aspect of a successful business and a self-identified shortfall among the 759 respondents.

“This study, and the resulting tools and resources FPA designs to help advisers positively impact their time management, are central to FPA’s focus on helping financial advisers run successful businesses,” said Lauren Schadle, CAE, FPA’s CEO and executive director.

The study, conducted in collaboration with Advisor Impact CEO Julie Littlechild, showed that when financial planners have a greater sense of control over their time and business, it leads to greater profitability and capacity.

In general, solo practitioners feel more out-of-control than their counterparts who were on teams. Only 13 percent of respondents feel in complete control of their time, and only 10 percent feel in complete control of their business.

Respondents indicated the top challenges they face when it came to productivity are trying to do too much, dealing with an increased administrative burden, and procrastinating. And business is affected for those hindered by these challenges.

Valerie Porter, CFP®, director of FPA’s Research and Practice Institute, said it’s important for planners to get a grip on time management and their sense of control.

“Obviously if only 13 percent of advisers feel they have complete control over their time there are going to be far-reaching ramifications on their businesses and their overall stress level,” Porter said. “As a practicing CFP professional myself, I know the impact positive time management has had on my business and my work with FPA and RPI.”

Tips for effective time management

While only 13 percent of respondents said they felt in complete control of their business and time, they have a few practices that other practitioners could learn implement for success.

  • Go through a time-tracking process to determine how you spend your time.
  • Have a set schedule of meetings every day. Time blocks don’t have to be rigid but make sure you schedule your priority activities.
  • Set specific goals for the number of client meetings you’ll hold per week.
  • Have a business plan in place that sets specific client retention goals.
  • Delegate tasks where you can. Advisers who feel most in control typically delegate things such as data collection, preparing documentation for client meetings, and conducting client-specific research, among other activities.
  • Have a block of time to respond to emails and phone calls versus responding to them as they come in.
  • Set aside time during the day to prepare for the next day.
  • Design a model day/week to follow to keep yourself on task.
  • Prioritize your tasks, tackle the most important ones first.

Take a look at the full study, which can be found here, for more in-depth tips on how to better manage your time.

The 2014 Time Management and Productivity study is the first in a series of quarterly studies from FPA’s Research and Practice Institute that are designed to help advisers run more successful businesses. Future studies will examine client communications, business development, and team training.


Ana2Ana Trujillo
Editorial Assistant
Journal of Financial Planning
Denver, Colo.

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