Some advisors don’t have to go very far to meet with their clients. Others, however, find themselves constantly on the go. How do they do it?
Rita Robinson of Oregon-based Robinson Financial Group notes two important things you need to succeed on the road: communication and accessibility. Technology goes a long way toward fulfilling both goals. “Shared calendars such as Outlook and iCalendar are very effective in helping your staff know where you are and when,” says Robinson, a member of NAIFA-Portland. “We’re also very dependent on email and telephones, too—especially when it comes to working with clients.”Keeping it together
John Enright, a financial planner with Wealth Management Services in Syracuse, N.Y., works out of the Syracuse office but also spends about one week per month meeting with clients out of his Vienna, Va., office. In addition, his clients are primarily in the construction business, and he spends time on-site with them. Here are his tips for keeping everything together.
- Create travel files for each client. The only things you’ll want to carry in them are the information you covered in the previous meeting and the information for the current meeting.
- If you travel often to the same location to meet with clients, get a cell phone with the area code for that location and simply forward it to your home office so clients in the area have a local number to call when you’re not in town.
- Have a staff member “mapquest” directions or use a similar mapping service from Google or MSN to get directions to all your meetings before you go. That will prevent you from getting lost or being late.
- Delegate effectively. A staff member should be responsible for responding to all voicemails and emails to ensure nothing is missed while you are away from the office. When you return, that person should provide you with a summary of what you missed and what was accomplished while you were out.
- Make full use of your days on the road by scheduling as many meetings as you can. Enright often leaves his hotel at 6 a.m. and returns as late as 11p.m. “That way I make the most of my time away from my family and the office,” says Enright, a member of Syracuse AIFA.
A tech tip: It’s all good
Marc Bregman of Bregman Financial and Insurance Services in Lodi, Calif., spends a lot of time on the road, both because he’s going from location to location for clients and because he travels frequently for NAIFA meetings. He stays in touch with his office through his Palm Treo and an online tool called Goodlink, available at www.goodlink.com. “What Goodlink does is synch my Treo with my Exchange server (Outlook) at the office over the cellular network,” says Bregman, a member of NAIFA-Stockton. “It’s in real time as long as I have a cellular connection. If the cellular network goes down, I can do all the work still on my phone, and as soon as the cellular connection comes back on my phone, it gets back in synch.”
This keeps Bregman from accidentally double-booking meetings, especially when one of his staff members is doing the booking. When a staff member adds something to his Exchange calendar, it shows up on his Treo immediately. And when he books his own appointments, his staff members can see it, as well. No phone-cradling necessary.
An added bonus, he notes, is that if the phone ever gets stolen, he can go to the Goodlink server and “disconnect” the phone—which wipes it clean, keeping his information secure.
Email is also synchronized through the Goodlink system. “Some people download their email to their phone, but when they get back to the office they can’t print it out because it’s already downloaded to the phone,” says Bregman. “Or, if you download it to your phone but leave it on the mail server, you end up having to go back and re-sort all the mail when you download it to your office computer.” With Goodlink, whatever Bregman does on the handheld device shows up exactly the same way on his office Outlook—sent items, deleted items, everything. “It’s a very resourceful thing to have because there’s always downtime when you’re waiting for somebody for an appointment, at a long stoplight, at the airport, at the hotel, wherever,” Bregman says. “You can get a lot of work done.”