Financial Advisors: The Hour Of Your Day That Matters Most

August 18, 2015

by Dan Richards

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Two weeks ago, in the article Five Small Changes that Boost Productivity, I described how an advisor saw a big boost in motivation and productivity from small changes to her routine.

Since then, I’ve heard from many advisors who’ve seen results from other changes in how they work. These conversations yielded insights into the three decisions that drive productivity: how you start your day, how you end your day and what you do in between. Advisors who have given careful thought to these questions have seen big improvements in productivity.

How you start your day

For most advisors, how you spend your first hour at work is the most important decision you’ll make all day. That’s because that first hour can either boost your confidence and enthusiasm to carry you through the rest of the day, or it can leave you feeling like you’re dragging a huge rock behind you. Indeed, a recent article outlined how Merrill Lynch trains new advisors to employ the 15-85 principle, where 85% of daily results are determined by what happens in the first 15% (or hour) in the office.

Here are other examples from my conversations with advisors:

  • One advisor starts his day with a stand-up huddle with his three-person team. He does it standing to convey a sense of urgency and to ensure it’s short. Every team member answers three questions: Is there something important that the other team members need to know? What’s the most positive thing that happened yesterday? What’s the most important thing you’re going to get done today?
  • A second advisor found that he’s become much more productive since beginning to spend his first two hours from home, responding to client emails and initiating calls. Not only does he avoid the distractions that he would have in the office, but he has to deal with less traffic.
  • I’ve written in the past about the power of short proactive calls to key clients. A third advisor takes half an hour first thing to check in with key clients that she hasn’t talked to in the last 60 days. She also has incorporated the idea of “happy birthday calls” – calling clients first thing on their birthday and saying, “I just wanted to be among the first to wish you a happy birthday.” Even if she leaves a client a voicemail, she still receives a terrific response to these calls.
  • Another advisor has boosted his enthusiasm and motivation since he began listening to interviews with Olympic medalists on his morning drive to the office.
  • Another advisor spends her first five minutes reviewing her five key goals for the current quarter and asks herself what she can do that day to move forward on each of those goals.

The advisor I featured two weeks ago took Michael Bloomberg’s advice in his book Do the Hard Things First. Bloomberg maintains that you should begin your day by tackling the most onerous tasks – like calling a difficult client or having a tough conversation with a staff member. These tasks can otherwise drag out and hang over you like a dark cloud, sucking up energy and enthusiasm.

Before leaving the office, this advisor wrote down the two or three most important things she needed to do the next morning. She tackled those before she did anything else. She was skeptical at first but since she began doing this, she has been astonished at how good it feels to have those difficult conversations behind her. As a result, she feels energized, and her motivation and enthusiasm get a boost that lasts through the morning.

There is no right way to start your day. What is important is to develop the habit of starting your day the same way each morning to build momentum in the first hour. Here are some other suggestions from Fast Company on What Successful People Do in the First Hour of the Day and from Business Insider on How Successful People Spend Their First Hour at Work.

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Financial Advisors: The Hour Of Your Day That Matters Most