If you reach out to financial advisor Fred Hubler, he will get back to you, but only when the time is right.

Hubler, the founder of Creative Capital Wealth Management Group, a retainer-based advisory firm in Valley Forge, Pa., and his staff adhere to a strict time-management method known as time blocking. So, don’t expect to hear back from him right away.

Hubler, an early adopter of the time management technique, said he and his staff block their schedule in half-hour increments. The idea, he explained, is to get your workweek to match 80% of what your perfect workweek should look like. He has software, for example, that allows clients to schedule appointments, but only on the days and times earmarked for client meetings.

Time blocking is not new. Cal Newport, a professor and author of several self-improvement books, including "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World," has been preaching it for years. Bill Gates is known to block his day out in five-minute increments, as is Elon Musk. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was said to conduct work meetings in as little as five minutes due to time blocking.

Newport estimated that a 40- hour time-blocked workweek produces the same amount of output as a 60-plus-hour workweek without structure.

Time blocking, Hubler said, is a perfect strategy to help financial advisors control their busy workdays. “It’s a discipline that takes time, especially if you are in sales, and most financial advisors are in sales one way or the other,” Hubler said.

Time blocking can seem counterintuitive to advisors because it’s natural for them to feel that if a client calls them, they have to call the client right back, he said.

“But the truth is that if you call them when you are ready to call them back versus right after they call you, you are going to have a better conversation and, frankly, you look more professional to the client,” he said.

“If you call a doctor or a brain surgeon, you don’t expect to get them. You are expected to be slotted into their schedule at the next available time. A financial professional time is just as valuable in a certain way,” Hubler added.

If financial advisors feel that they are not going to get the business if they don’t return a prospect’s call immediately, then that leads to them being more reactive to anything that comes up in their day, whether it’s an email or a phone call, he said. “But if you are very busy or very successful and that call comes in, you would call that person back on your time,” he said.

Hubler, who has seen his business double in the past three years and the average net worth of his clients grow by a factor of 10 since he shifted to a retainer-based practice, credits time blocking for his discipline and success.

Because of his use of time blocking, Hubler said he never feels burned out, partly because he is able to not be in the office on Mondays and Fridays. But he makes up for those days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when he is heavily time blocked.

Overall, he said, time blocking spreads out the work, as well as the stress, during the week.

“Working 20 hours one day and nothing to do the rest of the week, that’s not fair to anybody, probably least of all the clients,” he said. “If you have five clients in a day, that’s an ugly day and your fifth meeting is not as good as it could have been had you only had two or three meetings that day.”

Hubler suggests that his fellow advisors do three things: Map out what you want your week to look like; make the most of what your week looks like; and do this on a daily basis.

"A lot of people may think they are too busy to do this, but if they did this, they wouldn’t be so busy,” Hubler said.
 

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