9 Time-Saving Tips for Financial Advisors

9 Time-Saving Tips for Financial Advisors

Are you asking your brain to do too much? 

It takes a lot of energy and time for our brains to shift gears.  I’ve seen stats ranging from ten to twenty minutes.  This means each time you’re interrupted by, let’s say, a phone call, it could take up to twenty minutes to re-focus on the task you were doing—IF you even remember what that task was!

You’ll work much more efficiently and be more effective if you keep “like” activities together.  Here are a few ways to start structuring your time so that you do more and feel more productive each day.

  1. Tomorrow Time
    I’m presuming you have a business and marketing plan you’re using to guide the growth of your business.  That plan includes goals and action plans with dates.  Set your phone’s alarm clock to ding thirty minutes before the end of the day.  Clear off your desk and wind down.  Then review your action plans and write a list of what you need to do tomorrow to keep on track to reach your goals.  An added benefit is that winding down will help you be more present at home.
  2. Today Time
    Each morning, give yourself an hour of setup for a successful day.  Start the day without answering the phone or looking at email.  Delay those activities for one hour after you’ve arrived in the office.  Instead, prioritize your “Tomorrow Time” list.  Add or subtract anything new you’ve learned.  Look at the rest of the day and schedule it.  Meet with your assistant to communicate what you’re doing, when you’ll be available to return phone calls, meet with people, etc.  Do whatever research you need to do to set the pace for the day.  Then open your email and answer it for 30 minutes.  Note: Some of my clients have their assistant open their email and just let them know what’s most important to answer during the “AM Inbox Run”.
  3. Inbox Runs
    Tim Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, talks about setting up an auto-responder (an email automatically sent out to someone who emails a certain email account) for your inbox that also help you run your business more productively. “Inbox Runs” are certain times of the day you or your assistant answers your email.  Set up a schedule, for example:  one hour after you’re arrived in the office, one hour before lunch, and one hour before you leave the office.  I know that many independent advisors answer emails after hours (I do, too).  I highly recommend talking with your spouse to find a time each night that is agreeable to all, but also a few hours away from your bedtime, so you can wind down again. VIEW SAMPLE AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE
  4. Calling Day
    Spend an entire day calling clients or prospects.  Call your strategic partners, companies, or organizations you may be able to speak to or do business with.  This is the day to schedule client calls, where you can spend quality time with them on Skype or the phone.
  5. Free Days
    Thomas Leonard (1955-2003) was a brilliant financial planner who left the industry in the mid-1980s and became known as “the father of the personal coaching profession.”  He created the concept of putting aside the fourth week of each month (and fifth where there is one) as times to NOT work with clients and TO work “in” your business.  Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach went one step further, with his concept of “Free Day” – a day each week for you, away from your business.  Oh, I can hear all expletives you’re shouting at me now!  We all need free time to regenerate from giving to our clients, business, staff, etc.  Start somewhere.  Maybe attending an Integrity Day would get the ball rolling?
  6. Meeting Days
    Schedule one day a week for client meetings.  Let’s say you choose Wednesdays.  Sure, there will be times when a client, no matter what times are available on Wednesdays, cannot meet with you, not even using Skype.  Have a back-up day or afternoon for those situations.   You’ll be surprised (like I was) at how many people CAN meet you on “Meeting Day” – if you only ask them.  “What time on Wednesday are you available?” is a good way to start.
  7. Research Time
    Some research needs to be done ASAP for clients.  Much doesn’t.  If you find that you’re doing a lot of research during the week, schedule “Research Time” and let everyone in the office know that time is sacred and off limits.
  8. Say “No” More Often
    Most advisors would never think of turning down a new client.  But turning down a prospect exhibiting “red flags” or firing a client from hell is the right thing to do for your business, not to mention your sanity.  The prevailing thought in business is that if you aren’t losing 15% of the bottom tier of your clients yearly, you’re doing something wrong.  As business owners, we need to make sure that we’re about taking care of clients the right way at all times.  When you don’t have a niche and stick to it, or you work with everyone who breathes, you’re doing a disservice to your business, team, and family.
  9. Multiple Email Addresses
    I’ve seen this done numerous ways, but here’s the way I prefer.  I created various email addresses; some I look at three times a day and some I look at when I have time.
    • Newsletters
      I subscribe using the same email address each time. I open it when I have time.  As a side benefit, doing this allows me to know when someone is spamming me.  If I get a newsletter that is NOT using my newsletter email address, I know it’s spam.
    • Website
      I have one email address on my websites that I open three times a day. If this address starts getting spam, I just change it.
    • Family/Clients/Vendors
      I have an email address family uses. I open it three times a day.  Plus, they know to send me a text if they’ve emailed me something that needs my attention right away.  My clients get a special email address and so do vendors.
    • Your Needs Here

Related: Simple Ways To Build Trust With New Clients

In Outlook, I have each of these email addresses forwarded to separate folders I created (managed folders).  When I open my email, I look at the important folders first.  All else can wait.

The way you structure your day, check your email, and choose your clients all have an impact on how effective and productive you can be.

Maria Marsala
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Maria’s passion is helping experienced advisors make a bigger difference by building client and team-centered, focused, and senseable business processes that double their gr ... Click for full bio

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Written by: Chris Shuba, Helios Quantitative Research, LLC

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  Your investment decision is logical to you. But you have choices:  You could a) simply invest in a traditional index like the MSCI EAFE, b) invest in a fund that systematically emphasizes a single factor (like a value fund) that only buys specific stocks related to that factor, or c) invest in a developed fund that blends several factors together, like the JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN).  What is the best choice? 

Investing in a traditional international market capitalization index like the MSCI EAFE is not a bad choice. It has delivered nice returns for a US investor, especially uncorrelated outperformance in the 1970s and 1980s, and helped to diversify a US-only portfolio.

Your second choice is to invest in one particular factor because it makes sense to you.  Sticking with the example of a value strategy, you might believe a fund or index that chooses the cheapest or most attractively valued stocks based on metrics like Price to Earnings (PE) is best.  

You could go find a discretionary portfolio manager who only buys stocks he deems to be cheap.  Typically the concept of “cheap” is based on some absolute metric that the manager has in mind, such as never buying a stock with a PE greater than 15.  If there are not enough stocks that are attractive, he will hold his money in cash until he finds the prudent bargains he seeks.  This prudence also obviously risks possible underperformance from being absent from the market.

The alternative is to buy a value index or fund that systematically only buys the cheapest stocks in a particular investment universe.  So if there are 1000 investable stocks available, the index ONLY buys the cheapest decile of 100 stocks and is always fully invested in the 100 securities that are relatively cheapest.  This is an investment approach that a discretionary manger may disdain.  The discretionary value manager may look at those same 100 stocks and think they are pricey.  But nevertheless, academic research has shown that always being fully invested in the relatively cheapest percentiles of stocks in the US has produced superior returns over many decades. 

Such a portfolio is called a “factor” portfolio.  Why the name?   In the early 1960s, academics introduced the concept of beta and demonstrated that individual US stocks had sensitivities to, and were driven by, movements in the broad market.  In the early 1990s, academic research began to show that other “factors” such as value and size also drove US stock returns.  Since then, several factors have been identified as driving individual stock outperformance: value, size, volatility, momentum and quality.  Stocks that are cheaper, smaller, less volatile, have more positive annual returns and higher profitability have historically outperformed their peers.  It turns out these factors also work internationally.

Related: Who Gets Sick When the U.S. Sneezes?

Of all the factors, value is the factor that has been the best known the longest (even before it was academically identified as a “factor”), thanks to the books of Warren Buffet’s teacher Ben Graham.   And if you look abroad at an array of developed global markets and create a value index and compare it to its simple market capitalization weighted brother, the historic outperformance of value has been stunning.  Until recently.  

While there was some variability by country, on average from the mid-1970s up until 2005 a value factor portfolio in a developed market outperformed its market cap weighted index by about 2% a year.  That’s a lot. By contrast, since 2005, the average developed country value portfolio has underperformed a market cap indexes by about -40 basis points.  Which is the danger of investing in one factor.  It may not always work at every point in time.

So if investing in one factor like value runs the risk of underperforming, how about a multi-factor international developed equity portfolio?

Below is a breakdown of individual factor portfolios’ performance in international developed equity markets since 2005, an equal weighted factor portfolio as well the performance of the MSCI EAFE as our performance reference.  Note that, for the last 13 years, value has been the poorest factor by far, while the others have handily beaten the EAFE.  An equal weighted portfolio of all 5 factors, while not as optimal as some of the individual factor results, beats the EAFE by 1.6% and has an information ratio, or risk adjusted returns that are superior by 37%.  The equal weighted factor portfolio also has the advantage of not having to predict which factor will work when, so even when a factor like value does not beat the market, the other factors can pick up the slack.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

The equal weighted factor portfolio has one other advantage over the market cap weighted alternative. Note in the chart below how well the portfolio outperformed in the 2008 crisis, so it tends to do relatively well in highly volatile sell offs.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

While it’s not inconceivable that one or two of these factors could erode, or underperform for a stretch, the fact that you have exposure to multiple factors in a portfolio that seems to do especially well in crises suggest the multi-factor blended portfolio remains the most attractive way to invest in developed markets.

So, when asked the question: Multi-factor or not multi-factor?  The data speaks for itself.

Learn more about alternative beta and our ETF capabilities here.

DEFINITIONS: Price to earnings (P/E) ratio:  The price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings.

DISCLOSURES: MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI): The MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI), is an equity index which captures large, mid and small cap representation across Developed Markets countries* around the world, excluding the US and Canada. The index is based on the MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes (GIMI) Methodology—a comprehensive and consistent approach to index construction that allows for meaningful global views and cross regional comparisons across all market capitalization size, sector and style segments and combinations. This methodology aims to provide exhaustive coverage of the relevant investment opportunity set with a strong emphasis on index liquidity, investability and replicability. The index is reviewed quarterly—in February, May, August and November—with the objective of reflecting change in the underlying equity markets in a timely manner, while limiting undue index turnover. During the May and November semi-annual index reviews, the index is rebalanced and the large, mid and small capitalization cutoff points are recalculated.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full  prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit ww.jpmorganetfs.com to obtain a prospectus.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management
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See how ETFs differ from other investment vehicles, learn how to evaluate them, and discover how ETFs can be used effectively to achieve a diversity of investment strategies. ... Click for full bio