The Super Efficient Planner

31 Oct 2016

In cricket, it’s not only about hitting the ball hard. It’s the right timing which makes more impact to the final result. Financial planning profession is no different. It’s not just about writing plans and meeting goals of client. It’s a lot more than that. Knowing and doing certain things can make a planner super effective than an ordinary planner. Also, being effective is not just about time management. It’s much more than that. I summarize few thoughts on being a super efficient planner.

Higher Assets under Management

In the long term money is where the assets are. So it is important that besides doing comprehensive planning for clients, planners should also keep an eye on the assets they have under management. Many planners think their job is to write plans and not engage in any kind of product selling beyond financial planning. My experience tells me clients graduate with time and they grow beyond financial planning. There should be continuous fact finding with clients and planners should consider engaging in wealth management for clients rather than just focusing on financial planning.

This is more relevant in the Indian context where cash flows of clients and its use are more erratic. It is also very important that planners should do their own due diligence before accepting a client as to whether they have the potential to grow over time and become a wealth management client or not. Not to say that small clients can’t become big but a planner should decide judiciously his business model, growth potential and aspirations before signing up with a particular client. Efficient planners know it quite well that the time needed to manage a 1 crore portfolio and 10 crore portfolio is almost the same and so they focus on assets under management rather than just clients.

Higher Fees

For most planners fee from client is a large part of income or will become a large part of income going forward. Unfortunately, many planners get is absolutely wrong here when it comes to negotiating fees with clients. Charging a fee is good but charging the right way is called ‘efficiency’.

A fixed fee for writing a plan or annual review is not scalable. There is also a limitation of writing plans. Moreover, many clients may not give a review fee after some years. Further, increasing this fixed fee for plan writing or review is very challenging. It may not even keep pace with inflation. The best way to charge is to link the fee on the ‘assets under management (AUM)’. This way, planners can link their growth with the growth of clients. It may be a bit challenging to set up fees on AUM basis, but it is well worth the effort. Efficient planners charge on fixed fee model, super efficient planners link it to the AUM of the client. Over time, the rewards are multifold. This is what I call the reward of ‘efficiency’.

Sustainable Business Model

Many planners work hard day in day out for years and yet find themselves at crossroads in terms of sustainable business model. Super efficient planner believes in the power of being passive. For e.g., they are passive when it comes to management of funds under management. They also set up their business model on trail or fees which is linked to AUM which is again passive in nature yet powerful and sustainable. This frees them from day to day effort of managing clients. This eventually leads to handling more client accounts in the same time frame as other planners and thereby growing their business further. Initially, it takes an effort to set up the practice on such business model but as time passes, it runs on auto pilot.

Higher Respect

Money alone can’t meet the aspiration of being respected. Respect comes from doing a good job as a planner. Higher respect comes when the world knows about you. There are several planners who are highly successful but the world is unaware about it and they do not get the level of respect and acknowledgement they deserve. There is an easier way to do it. Super efficient planners find time to write their thoughts on their profession, ties up with some magazines and websites and get them published. Some planners work towards speaking assignments. These things get instant recognition which in turn makes them more favorite of their clients.

Managing time

As we have seen above, being efficient is much more than just managing time. Having said that, super efficient planner is also quite methodical when it comes to time management. There is limited time available in which they have to meet clients, write plans, manage portfolio’s, do periodical reviews, execute  transactions, provide regular service, reading to stay updated and so on. Out of all this there is only one area where they can save time and it is on execution of transactions and servicing. It kills a lot of time and must be delegated to assistants. While it may be challenging to hire but increased efficiency can more than make-up the cost of hiring support staffs.

Summary

Just a few things separate a planner with a super efficient planner. They are

(1) targeting higher assets under management by moving from financial planning to wealth management
(2) linking fee to AUM
(3) applying passive mode of managing funds and revenue model and
(4) delegating servicing and execution related work to support staff.

We are in a profession which is expected to see high growth in the near future. Knowing and applying some ideas can greatly enhance productivity and help achieve our own aspirations along with our clients.

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