The Founders Dilemma: Navigating Time Traps

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

Last week, I hosted an Ask Me Anything session called “Ask Amar”. While I answered many questions on growth, marketing, strategy, first meetings, succession, valuation and so on, there was one that I had promised to cover in one of my Tuesday posts.  I did that because not only is this topic super important but also because many people had asked this question. While I have provided a hint about the question in the list, what do you think the question is?

Without wasting any further words, here it goes – What should I not be doing? Another version of this was – What should I not waste my time on?

While I have covered this question in my book “The HappyRich Advisor”, I have done it in a different format in this post.

But before answering this question, let me make a critical statement that you must deeply understand…World-class financial professionals focus their time and energy on activities that provide the most value to their clients and their business.

Read the line again and meditate on it for a while…

What does this line mean to you?

At the end of this post, I will share a powerful question that will act as a filter for you to decide if you should invest your time into a particular activity.

Here are several things you should not waste your time on:

1. Micromanaging Daily Operations: Automating routine tasks or delegating them to capable team members allows you to focus on thinking, high-level strategy, meeting ideal prospects and key client interactions.

2. Chasing Short-term Market Trends: World-class professionals understand the importance of a long-term investment strategy over trying to time the market or chase short-term gains.

3. Handling Non-Ideal Clients: Spending too much time on clients who do not fit your ideal client profile can detract you from servicing those who do. Successful financial professionals often define their niche and focus on serving it well.

4. Manual Data Entry and Analysis: Utilizing financial planning software and other technologies can save significant time, reducing the need for manual work and allowing for more time to be spent on analysis and strategy.

5. Excessive Marketing Tactics: While marketing is essential, it’s important to focus on effective strategies suited to your target audience rather than spreading efforts too thin across too many channels. This is where most go wrong…Your marketing should be a function of the number of clients you need and the kind of clients you need. More importantly where are these clients and what do they read, watch, or consume. This will help you figure out the best way to reach out to them.

If all you need is 30 ideal clients in a year, why are you wasting time on doing social media, digital marketing, and everything else under the sun. But if you need 3000 clients, then it’s a different story.

6. Frequent and Unnecessary Meetings: We do a lot of meetings many times to simply prove our value. But our value is not a function of time, our value is a function of the value we deliver to our clients. World-class financial professionals streamline their communication and meetings, opting for efficiency and effectiveness, and using technology to facilitate discussions and deliver a world-class client experience in every interaction.

7. Keeping Up with Every Financial News Piece: Staying informed is crucial but obsessing over every piece of financial news can be overwhelming and unproductive. While the best amongst us are aware of what’s happening in the world, they don’t waste their time watching business channels, reading market commentary, listening to forecasts, and so on.

8. Reinventing the Wheel: Instead of creating all processes from scratch, leveraging existing tools, platforms, and best practices can save time and energy. This is where a lot of time is wasted and it’s one of the biggest sources of wastage.

9. Doing Everything Alone: Not leveraging the expertise of others, can limit your effectiveness. Collaboration can enhance client experience, service delivery, client delight and share of heart, turning clients into your brand ambassadors.

10. Overanalyzing Decisions: While thorough analysis is crucial, there’s a point where it can become counterproductive. Decision paralysis can prevent you from taking timely actions that will benefit your clients.

 11. Engaging in Every Networking Event: Networking is vital, but not all events are of equal value. Prioritizing high-quality, relevant networking opportunities can be more beneficial than attending every available event. This is a big drag and if left unchecked is often the second biggest source of waste.

12. Inefficient Communication Practices: Excessive emails, messages, or poorly structured communications can consume a lot of time. Effective communication strategies streamline interactions without sacrificing clarity or relationships.

13. Attempting to Control Market Outcomes: Real Financial Professionals know the importance of focusing on what they can control, such as investment strategy and planning, rather than stressing over market fluctuations which are beyond anyone’s control. 

14. Manual Report Generation: With the availability of sophisticated financial software, spending excessive time on manual report creation is inefficient. Automation in reporting can save significant time.

15. Overcommitting to Clients: While striving to provide excellent client experience and client service is a must, overcommitting can lead to unrealistic expectations and burnout. Setting and communicating clear boundaries is crucial. You don’t have to be on call 24 hours a day. You are not an emergency room doctor in a hospital. You don’t have to pick up calls immediately or respond to emails within minutes.

 16. Failing to Prioritize Tasks: Not all tasks are of equal importance. Effective time management and prioritization ensure that critical tasks are addressed first, enhancing productivity and client service.

17. Manual Onboarding of Prospects/Clients: I had saved this most important thing as the last point…Your first meeting with a prospect is super crucial…What is the experience you are delivering in this meeting? This is your time to shine and let the prospect/client know that you are the right and the best professional to take care of them.

In the age of digital transformation, you should no longer be tethered to the laborious process of manual client onboarding and the first meeting prospect experience. Embracing world-class automated solutions not only streamlines the process, making it more efficient and error-free but also liberates you to invest your valuable time in what truly matters – crafting tailored strategies and building relationships that foster trust and longevity with your clients. By adopting technology for onboarding, you can ensure a seamless, welcoming first experience for clients, setting the tone for a professional relationship that values both time and quality service.

By avoiding these pitfalls, you can stop wasting your time and further enhance your efficiency and effectiveness. This will allow you to provide a superior client experience and service to your clients while also growing their practice sustainably.

There are 3 types of activities that you as the founder or the key financial professional of your firm must focus on – Revenue Producing Activities, Leverage Producing Activities, and Relationship (Share of Heart) Building Activities.

According to a McKinsey report, financial advisors spend a significant portion of their time on non-revenue generating activities, potentially up to 60%. These activities are neither leverage producing nor relationship building. The percentage of time you spend on operational and administrative activities and the above can vary widely depending on several factors, including the size of the firm, the type of client, your value proposition, the level of support staff, the use of technology, and the efficiency of your processes. This time allocation means less time is available for client-facing activities, strategic planning, business development and many other things, which are crucial for growing your business, for building enterprise value, for delighting clients and for building the firm of the future. This is a very heavy cost to pay.

Are you fine to pay this (approximately 200-400%+ of enterprise value)?