The title of this article describes how most established financial advisors exist in their financial services business: too many clients, working too many hours, for too little money. It's a shame because this is such a great business. There are very few professions where you can earn all the money you want to pay for a truly great present lifestyle plus all you need to fund all of your future goals, including your own financial independence, while doing something valuable for other people. This really is an amazing business! Sadly, most financial advisors choose not to actualize the true potential that is inherent in our great business.
This does not have to be your reality, however. You have a choice. Choose to be one of the financial advisors who transcend the norm to experience something better.
In this article, we will examine why most advisors end up with too many clients, working too many hours, for too little money. And we will identify some things you can do to create a business with the right number of clients, working the right number of hours, for the right amount of money ... for you.
Too many clients. Paradoxically, most financial advisors admit to being less than effective at consistently implementing prospecting, marketing and client acquisition systems, yet they end up with too many clients, especially too many of the wrong clients. How does that happen?
1. Continuing a pattern from early in their careers of accepting as clients almost anyone who will do business with them.
2. Inheriting "books of business" from advisors who leave the industry.
3. Buying "books of business" from advisors who leave the business (or are smart enough to sell their non-ideal clients to another advisor).
4. Successfully executing mass marketing prospecting systems (direct mail, seminars, radio shows, advertising, etc.).
Can you really have too many clients? Of course. Here are just four key signs that you have too many clients, any one of which is enough to prove the point. You can probably think of others.
1. At whatever point you have even one client who you would not recognize if you passed him on the street. (Exacerbated if you have clients you have never met face-to-face.)
2. At whatever point you have even one client for whom you don't have time to make sure all of the following action items are done for him, some completed by you and others coordinated through the appropriate subject-matter expert:
Comprehensive, written financial plan
Program to build and maintain adequate emergency cash reserves
Program to manage, reduce, and/or eliminate debt
Asset allocation, including assets not held with your custodian
Comprehensive insurance program covering every risk that could challenge your client's financial health and security
Legal documents that support excellent financial health (wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, living wills, health directives, business succession plan, etc.)
Taxes filed on time, accurately, and paid in full
3. When you have even one client who you can't meet with the several times per year necessary to keep him on track to make smart choices about his money so he achieves his goals and keeps his financial house in order.
4. When you have even one client who does not pay you enough to cover his fair share of your business economic needs. (Especially if what he pays does not even cover your costs to have him as a client or justify your time investment.)
Most financial advisors I've met would love to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with their clients, deliver truly comprehensive financial services so every client has his financial house in perfect order, meet with their clients frequently enough to hold them accountable to keep their financial house in perfect order, and be paid enough by every client so they have all the business revenue they need to make their business and their life work.
What's the problem? Not enough time? It probably feels that way, but enough time is not really the problem. You have all the time there is. Everyone who survived the week had 168 hours. The real issue is choosing to allocate your time so you acquire the right clients and serve them fully. I call this the Rule of 168.
Working too many hours. This challenge is driven by two admirable character traits. One is truly caring about helping people and, therefore, trying to serve them even though the amount of time that will take per client multiplied by the number of clients you have make it unworkable. Remember the Rule of 168. There are only 168 hours in the week. How you choose to invest those hours determines your success in business and your happiness in life. No matter how much you care, there is a limit to how many people you can help. Trying to serve too many people can wreck other areas of your life and create an unsustainable business.
The other admirable character trait is integrity: "By God, I promised to take care of these people and I'm going to do whatever it takes to do that!" This is a noble goal, but futile given the unchangeable truth of the Rule of 168. Please don't be upset with me for delivering this message about the Rule of 168. It wasn't my idea. God did not consult with me when he or she decided how long it would take the Earth to achieve a full rotation or how long it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun. It is what it is. Your job is to make your business and your life work within the boundaries of the Rule of 168.
If you are working too many hours it's likely because you are choosing to do things with your time that are not as necessary or as important as you might think and because you are working with too many of the wrong clients. Notice I didn't say "bad" people. I said the wrong people to make your business life effective so you can work a reasonable number of hours to generate the money you need to make your life work.
What does it mean to make your life work? That's really up to you. For most humans their life "working" includes some common elements: financial health, physical health, relationship health, mental health and spiritual health. Exactly what you do and how you do it in each of these areas can vary greatly. It is a great life and this is a great profession for achieving success in all five areas.
For too little money. Is there a "right" amount of money? Yes. That number is based on your and your family's personal financial plan. What has to happen for YOUR financial house to be in perfect order? How much money is required to pay for the present lifestyle you truly want? How much do you need to save and invest to achieve all of your goals? How much insurance do you need to mitigate all of the risks to your family's financial health and security, present and future? How much in cash reserves? How much debt to be reduced or eliminated? How much to pay your taxes, in full and on time? How much to get the relevant legal documents in place?