The way to really grow your business is to stay in your Zone of Genius, doing the work in which you excel and moving the rest off your to-do list.
Let’s face it – you can only do so much by yourself. At some point, you run out of time and mental capacity!
After all, when you try to do EVERYTHING, something suffers. Your family, your health, your friendships, your business, your hobbies . . .
But delegating can be tough . . . what do you delegate? To whom? And how? These ten financial planners share their strategies for how they’ve been able to delegate successfully.
Not only do you save time by moving certain things off your list, you save money. Hayley Stewart, Senior Accountant at FA Bean Counters, says this about her clients’ delegating:
“Advisors can delegate their books – either those just starting their firm who know right away bookkeeping is not their thing, or those who have had a practice for a number of years and just want some help cleaning their books up or taking them off their plate completely. The bookkeeping that takes them four or five hours to do a month we can generally do in an hour to two hours. So not only are they saving time so they can go and hang out with their family, they can go and spend time with their friends. Or, they could actually be doing billable, productive work for their clients and making money. What they pay us is less than what they bill out during the same timeframe.”
Makes sense, right? When you are doing your most important work, your business will grow – and you’ll have more time to do the things you love. For instance, Sara Stanich (MBA, CFP®, CDFA™, and founder of Cultivating Wealth) says she wants to be “fully engaged with my client… and so if I can take some tasks out of my head, it helps me to be better at the big things that only I can do.”
Simple to understand, but not always easy to implement.
But, doing only the work you love and staying in your Zone of Genius can be challenging – there really IS a lot of work to get done! The solution to the “too much to do, not enough time” challenge is to master the skill of effectively delegating.
So what exactly is your Zone of Genius?
Your “Zone of Genius” is the intersection of three critical areas:
- The activities you love
- Your strengths, those tasks you do best
- The greatest value you bring to your business
These are the activities YOU do . . . everything else can be delegated.
When you stay in your Zone of Genius, and encourage your staff to stay in theirs, you’ll find your company’s productivity will increase. You can get more done in less time, doing what you love to do!
What should you delegate?
When you are able to delegate all the tasks that are not in your Zone of Genius, you’ll find that you’re focused on those tasks that really drive your business forward.
So, what are your strengths? Really ponder this – it may not be what you first think.
Angela Moore, MSPFP, CFP®, MPAS®, CRPC®, CFEI, founder of Modern Money Advisor explains how she defines her Zone of Genius:
“We’re all so different. Some people are super technical, and they love the analytical part of the job. Some people like me, love talking to people. I love meeting with people! I love helping people! I don’t necessarily like all of the admin stuff. In fact, I really hate it. So for me, efficiency is clearing out my day as much as possible so I can do the things that I love, which is to be on social media, meet with clients, doing speaking engagements and workshops.”
Richard Salmen, CFP®, CFA®, EA, founder of Family Investment Center, shares:
“Playing to your strengths is a whole lot more fun than building up your weaknesses. . .I want to be around people; I want to lead a team and work with the clients. The greatest value I add to the team is two things, in my opinion. One is continuing to be a rainmaker, being the person who shares the passion with prospective clients, helps bring them into the fold. And the other one is being willing, able, and skilled at having the different difficult conversations. Even if I am not in an entire meeting, I might pop in for 10 or 15 minutes to be part of an essential conversation, but then I can pop out again.”
Daniel Wrenne, CFP® and founder of Wrenne Financial, delegates “everything but meeting with clients, and sometimes I even delegate that depending on the type of service they need.”
Charesse Spiller (founder of Get Level Best) delegates repeatable processes such as parts of the client experience, including onboarding, meeting preparation, and meeting follow up.
Sara outsources presentation creation. “I found someone on Fiverr to turn a blog post into a PPT presentation with nice images. I could have done it myself, but she did a great job and it freed me up to do other things.” She also uses a marketing assistant to set up newsletters and blog posts and uses a company to send out birthday cards.
To whom should you delegate?
Good news – you have a list of things you can delegate. Bad news – actually delegating these tasks can be tough. Choosing who to delegate to is critical.
When working with clients, my two favorite resources are Virtual Assistants and your existing staff.
- VAs – You would be amazed at the large number of tasks that VAs can complete. (A comprehensive list of tasks you can easily delegate to a VA are located in my free resource, Delegate Like a Pro.)
- Existing Staff – “A lot of advisors don’t maximize their team,” says Charesse, and I agree! I find that about 80% of the clients I work with are underutilizing the skill set of the staff they already employ.
One of the challenges I initially hear from my clients is that they just can’t afford to hire more help. But VAs are engaged hourly, so you have complete control over the budget. And, if you are underutilizing your current staff you actually aren’t going to be paying any extra!
Other things to consider –
- Personality – One of Sara’s non-negotiables is “finding someone you can trust.”
- Skill Set – Richard believes another key for successful delegation is, “Surrounding myself with people who complement my weaknesses. I am not detail-oriented – never have been, never will be. I can do it when forced, but given the choice, I would rather have people on my team around me that are making sure that the ‘I’s are getting dotted, the ‘T’s are getting crossed – that’s their strength.”
- Automation vs. Delegation –
- Arielle Minicozzi, CFP®, CSLP®, and founder of Sphynx Automation, finds a nice balance. “Some people get a VA, some people will go the automation route. The important thing is that you need to stop doing the task.”
- Derek Hagen, CFP®, FBS®, CFT-I™, CFA, Money Health Solutions, agrees with Arielle’s idea. “I don’t look at delegating to people but instead, figuring out how to automate with software. How do I pick my software platform or my tech stack in such a way that I’m minimizing the amount of stuff that I have to do and the amount of stuff that anybody on my team has to do?”
How should you delegate?
You have some ideas of what to delegate, and to whom to delegate. Now, how? Delegating is a skill – and you don’t want to just drop the task and run! I promise, that is a recipe for disaster!
Be thoughtful about how you move the project off your to-do list and onto someone else’s.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, create a checklist that identifies the key points in your delegating process . . . the steps you’ll take every time you delegate. (The 3-step process I use with my clients is here.)
- After you consider the process, think about the task itself. Charesse adds, “When you have repeatable processes in place, it’s easy to free up your time and delegate.” How many repeatable processes do you currently have? Start with these tasks first.
- Once you know your overall delegating process, figure out the process for each task/project. Cameo Roberson, AAMS® and founder of Atlas Park Consulting, says:
“In order to empower your people to do what you need them to do, they need direction. And if everything lives in your brain, it’s going to be hard to then tell them what they need to do. The first thing advisors have to do is get all of that information out of their heads and into a checklist. Once that checklist is created, the firm can then take that checklist and start to build in those workflows within the CRM that can then be assigned to different people to then get the work done.”
Remember, the idea of delegating is so easy to understand – but it certainly isn’t simple to implement. Here’s some advice:
1. This process takes time!
- Daniel explains how he began the process. “I started out by micromanaging and worrying whether everything would get done correctly and on time. Then I moved to the other end of the spectrum and delegated everything I could think of, but I wasn’t clear. Finally, I was able to enter into Phase 3 of my delegating style, when I was able to be clear about what needed to be delegated and to offer the right amount of support needed. But it took time.“
- Hayley shares from a bookkeeping perspective. “It’s going to be a little bit more upfront work. For us to really know their books, we’re going to ask a lot of questions in the first month or two, and then it’s really going to taper off and they’re going to be able to just let us handle it and do it on a month-to-month basis.”
- And in my experience, it will take you about twice as long to delegate the task the first few times you do it. Then, the person you’ve delegated to understands and can work without your supervision.
2. It’s never too early to start delegating!
If you start now, you’ll have that much more time to focus on your most important tasks. “My first step was to delegate the paperwork. I’ve been delegating that for years but I could have delegated that even sooner,” Sara tells me.
3. It all starts with a process!
As Charesse says, “A lot of advisors share with me that they don’t think that the other person can do it to the company standards, but that’s just because the company standards don’t exist. So once you have your standards in place, then it’s easier to delegate and people can plug in to the firm policies a lot easier.”
Sara suggests you delegate selectively: “I actually think it’s better to limit their tasks to one area because it just makes it more manageable for them and also for me, so my virtual assistant does paperwork doesn’t also do marketing stuff. My marketing person doesn’t need any access to any client information.”
4. The benefits far outweigh the costs!
It does cost money to hire people, but Amy Irvine (Rooted Planning Group) says, “I think I’ve shifted my mindset from, ‘That’s going to cost money’ to ‘How many clients do I have to get to pay for this person’?”
In conclusion, now that you have some concrete guidance on ways to effectively delegate, how will you apply these ideas to your own business?
- Define your Zone of Genius
- Know your staff’s Zones of Genius (or look into outsourcing for that area of expertise)
- Create a delegating plan
- Revisit and tweak
- Enjoy your extra time
And when you’re ready for some assistance to create your own delegating plan, schedule an Action Call!
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