What You Do and How You Do It

As we work with financial advisors and financial planners to determine their three key differentiators, we often share that it’s important to focus on the “how,” rather than the “what.”

At this point, every financial advisor has pretty much the same financial planning tools, access to investment managers, and some type of process for onboarding new clients, right?

Therefore, it’s not about what you have or do but how you do it.

Not sure what your “how” looks like?  Start by fully documenting what you (or your team) do for clients and breaking it down into individual steps.  This should include:

  1. Identifying why you are taking a particular step.
  2. Describing the tools you need to do it (g. software, documents, etc).
  3. Confirming the specific actions you need to take in as much detail as possible.

How much detail is the “right” amount of detail?  In general, aim to be as thorough as possible particularly when actions are often skipped.

In his book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right Atul Gawande discussed a checklist that reduced infections at a Michigan hospital by 66%.  The first item on this checklist was “Wash your hands.”

Presumably doctors and nurses know that they are supposed to wash their hands before beginning any medical procedure. However, the doctor that created the checklist observed that this step was commonly skipped.  Since it’s important to “get the stupid stuff right,” he added it to the top of the list.

Here are three reasons why documenting what you do can help your practice:

  1. It forces you make to decisions. You can’t document something you’re unsure about.  For example, do you want your assistant to confirm all your meetings?  If yes, what method should be used: email, phone call, or text?  If you’ve never really thought about it, documenting your process will require that you make a decision.
  2. It ensures quality, efficiency, and consistency. Excellence in your practice means doing the right things, quickly and repeatedly.
  3. It establishes a standard of “this is how we do it here” that your staff and clients will appreciate. Some practices have even branded their key processes and describe them in their marketing materials.

Additionally, if you intend to sell your practice at some point, having well-documented processes will make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Are you ready to stand out from other advisors?  Start with how!

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