Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

Digesting news and sharing it with clients is part of every advisor’s daily routine.  Doing that efficiently, however, in such a way as to better position yourself with your clients, requires a structured approach that is far from obvious.

A recent conversation with a successful financial advisor named Robert highlighted the importance of a disciplined, consistent approach to every aspect of your business – including how you stay on top of markets and the economy.

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Like many in the business, Robert was historically haphazard in how he gathered information. Based in a mid-sized community, he started his day by glancing at sports scores from the previous night, then turned to the business section of The New York Times. Working for an independent investment firm, he also tapped into a daily conference call and research from a number of leading firms.

Even though the transactional component of his business very small, he also glances at news alerts throughout the day should a client call him about breaking news or to identify an idea to share with a client.  Finally, every week or two he attends lunch presentations from fund companies in his boardroom or goes to presentations by fund managers at a local hotel.

Increasing the payoff from reading

Last fall, Robert met with a coach to develop his 2012 business plan. Leading up to their meeting, the coach had Robert keep a detailed record of what his day looked like for a couple of weeks.
In reviewing his daily routine, Robert identified three problems with how he was gathering information:

  1. While he was spending a fair amount of time during each day staying on top of what was happening, the fragmented nature of how he was doing this meant that he wasn’t always absorbing the information fully. The coach also felt he was reactive to developments.
  2. Almost all of Robert’s time was being consumed with short-term daily news and that he wasn’t spending enough time on bigger picture, longer term issues.
  3. Finally, Robert wasn’t taking full advantage of the opportunity to share breaking information and fresh insights with clients.

As a result, starting in January Robert changed his routine. He still glances at sports scores and headlines over coffee, but now gets into the office at 7:30, half an hour earlier than previously. In that half hour, he does two things.

First, Robert invested $500 to sign up for the online sites for the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times and spends 30 minutes going through those. As part of that process, he focuses on articles that might be of interest to his top clients and prospects. Each day, his goal is to email one or two articles to someone among his top-20 clients or top-10 prospects.

Then, each evening Robert spends another 30 minutes online, looking at other sites such as the Economist, Forbes, Fortune or Bloomberg Business Week that might provide useful additional insights. Again, he tries to identify someone among his top clients and prospects that might find an article he read helpful

Finally, each Sunday morning Robert carves out an hour from 10 to 11 to dig deeper into reading on bigger picture, macro issues.  As part of that, he spent another $100 to subscribe to Barron’s online and has found that an exceptionally useful resource.

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