Summer Strategies: Catch-Up, Rethink and Review
This is the first part of a two-part series on financial advisors’ ideas for making the most, in work terms, of the summer season.
Summertime means time off and time away for many wealth management clients. But some wealth managers say they’ve come up with ways to make good use of this so-called down time.
Advisors say the need for summer strategies is even greater for advisors in sunshine states like Florida and Arizona. Their clients return in droves to their northern stomping grounds in the hot months of June through October.
For some FAs in Florida, this seasonal exodus includes “virtually their entire client base,” says Sally Cates, communications chief at Dynasty Financial Partners, a New York-based firm that provides technology, investments and other operational support to RIAs.
Cates’ colleague Javier Rivero, who spearheads Dynasty’s efforts to help RIAs serve international clients, says summer months – which can be slow periods with so many clients away – “present an opportunity to perform some midyear tasks that can be valuable for the second half of the year.”
This means resisting the temptation to cut back on staffers’ hours and resolving to keep careful track of colleagues' days off to ensure clients get consistent service year round – even if their visits and calls are rarer in the summer months.
It’s as vital to encourage clients to tell their advisors where they’ll be on summer vacation. “This will help in knowing how to get a hold of the clients in case of an urgent matter or fraud alerts on their debit cards during their travels,” says Rivero. “There is nothing more annoying and embarrassing than being on vacation and having a card blocked.” So, he adds, being on watch for such annoyances can help a wealth firm “stand out from the crowd.”
With client support shored up for the summer months, firms can use this period to zero in on projects that are too time-consuming for the rest of the year.
Dynasty Financial Partners
To start, firms should “come up with a schedule and stick to it,” says Rivero. “Create daily, weekly and monthly calendars to keep track of the ongoing tasks and to-do lists” and share them with everybody on staff.
Getting down to brass tacks, Miami-based Rivero says summertime gives firms a chance to review internal processes — especially the vexed matter of client onboarding. “Are there any areas that you have always wanted to improve on or test a different process?” he asks. “Take advantage of the slower volume and do it.” Then “document the outcome and use that data to implement or improve.”
Midyear is also a good time for a tune-up. “Dust off the business plan and review your goals for the year," says Rivero. “Are you on track? If not, you still have time this year to come up with the reason why, and make the changes needed in order to achieve the goals.”
Finally, summer gives advisors the chance to hone professional skills. “Attend educational conferences, read a book over the summer, continue to improve and professionalize your business,” says Rivero. If in the summer months “you let your guard down,” a competitor “will take advantage of it.”