Where is an Advisor’s Time Best Spent?

October 14, 2014

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

Would you say it is more important for an advisor who leads a firm to spend time with clients or with staff? We have an ongoing argument here and would appreciate your opinion.

Lloyd S.

Dear Lloyd,

This is certainly one of the more loaded inquiries I have received. Of course, I wish I knew whether you were the leader of the firm or whether you are trying to get fodder to make your point to the leader!

It’s also a loaded question because I can’t help by defaulting to the non-direct, “it depends”. There are so many variables in this situation (as well in as most situations where human behavior is involved!) Here are the questions I need answered:

      1. Are clients at risk? Does the leader need to be in contact because clients know the leader and would feel vulnerable without that one-on-one connection?
      2. What exactly do employees need from the leader? Is it moral support, or are they lacking in some skill that the leader needs to provide?
      3. Are there opportunities for the leader to manage his or her time differently so that the choice is not so black and white but rather allows for focus on both of these areas?
      4. Where does the “argument” part come into play? Why is there tension over where the leader is spending their time?

It seems to me that there is a lot more underneath this question than can be addressed in this column. In general, many firm leaders do spend a great deal of time with clients. This can be okay as long as they are also spending the time necessary to manage their teams and run their firms. However, some advisors bring in a chief operating officer or some partner to divvy up responsibilities and have specific areas of focus.

It might make sense to get your whole team in a room, with the leader, and talk about the current obstacles. What’s missing? What’s not happening now that needs to happen? What struggles does the leader have that might be getting overlooked?

This could be a great opportunity to pull the team closer together if, instead of finger-pointing and arguing, you could use this as a chance to strengthen communication throughout the firm.

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