Today, I want to give you one tip that I believe will change your life and your business. It certainly helped me grow my business and significantly reduced my stress level 18 months ago when I hired my first professional virtual assistant. Did you know the majority of financial advisors today are still working independently without any support staff?
While advisors who are working as part of a team have increased by 25% in the last four years, the majority of independent advisors are still one-man shops. Barron’s reports that many advisors make the transition toward a team when they approach $100 million in AUM.
Working on your own has many benefits, but one of the downsides is that you have to do everything yourself and your productivity suffers as a result. The most valuable use of your time is meeting with clients and creating financial plans, but when you run your own business, the majority of your time is spent elsewhere.
How Many Hours Per Week are You Working as a Financial Advisor?
What would you say to one of your top clients, a physician struggling to retire on time, who told you he was only working in his practice four days a week because he needed one day each week to mow his lawn and maintain his yard? You’d surely urge him to hire a gardener to free up his valuable time to earn 25% more! Hiring a virtual assistant offers the same benefit for a financial advisor, putting more hours of your week towards tasks with the highest profitability.
Think about the work you did this week. How many hours did you spend working as a financial advisor on tasks that generate maximum revenue?
Are You Productive or Busy?
Of all the advisors I work with, the ones that are the most successful are without a doubt the advisors who have a support staff. Whether they’re part of a larger firm with full-time team members or a one-man shop with a good virtual assistant, top performers know how to get the help they need.
I hired my first virtual assistant after reading the bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. Author Tim Ferriss built his empire on outsourcing repetitive or menial tasks to keep his time focused on writing books and growing his businesses. “Doing less meaningless work so that you can focus on things of greater importance is not laziness,” Ferriss says, “We need to focus on being productive, instead of being busy.”
In another classic, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen encourages people to delegate everything they can to increase productivity. “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Sometimes the biggest gain in productivity comes from clearing your desk.” By having an avenue to outsource meaningless tasks, you free up your time for the big initiatives. Virtual assistants provide a pressure valve to reduce your workload of urgent but non-critical work.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is a professional who provides administrative or technical support to their clients remotely. Whereas hiring a full time administrative assistant may cost you $50,000 per year plus benefits, virtual assistants bill hourly as contractors, so you are not responsible for employee-related taxes, insurance, or benefits. What’s more, virtual assistants only bill you for the time they actually work, so you don’t waste money on idle employees.
Professional virtual assistants are highly trained and experienced problem solvers that are familiar with technologies and productivity strategies to save time. I find that my own virtual assistants complete complex tasks in much less time than it would take me and often with better results. Because they’re highly organized and laser focused on each individual task, virtual assistants make sure everything is completed on time and nothing falls through the cracks.
How Do Financial Advisors Use Virtual Assistants?
The first virtual assistants I saw advisors using years ago were appointment setters. Some advisors started out hiring an answering service to answer their calls while they were away from the office. But today, most advisors I know use virtual assistants to do technology and administrative work.
Here are some examples of tasks my virtual assistant service has helped advisor clients with this week:
- Adding prospects’ email addresses to a database
- Making changes to the advisor’s website
- Calling prospects to remind them of an upcoming event
- Troubleshooting technology issues
- Making required compliance changes to documents
- Updating social media profiles
- Proofreading and editing communications
- Making dinner reservations and finding nearby parking
- Researching flights and hotel for upcoming conference
The beauty of working with a talented virtual assistant is that you can easily get things off your plate as soon as they come to your mind. Those nagging to do lists and problems you meant to solve can be crossed off and completed with a short email. And don’t be afraid to outsource personal tasks, it makes no difference to the virtual assistant and can often save you hours and reduce stress.
What to Look for in a Virtual Assistant
We’re all wary of the $4 per hour virtual assistants working from the Phillipines. I recommend finding a professional virtual assistant in your location who you can meet in person and review references before hiring. My top virtual assistant, Tammy, lives near me in San Diego and is a personal friend. She has worked as an executive assistant, productivity coach, and professional virtual assistant for years. We meet every few months in person to review our projects and brainstorm how we can work together more efficiently.
To find a qualified professional, try a LinkedIn search for “virtual assistant” in your area. Interview at least three candidates and speak with their references. Be sure the assistant is proficient in the technologies that you use. My virtual assistants are trained using the following platforms:
- FMG Suite
- WordPress Websites
- Advisor Websites
- Erado and Smarsh
- LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?
Of course, you get what you pay for with any professional you hire. Instead of focusing on the hourly rate, I recommend focusing on technical proficiencies and stellar references. The goal of hiring a virtual assistant is to save you time, so you want to work with someone who is experienced with the technologies you’re using and won’t require you to answer a lot of questions for them to complete each task.
I have worked with several types of virtual assistants with positive results. My most important or complex tasks go to my top assistant, who charges $40 per hour. She is a tenacious problem solver who doesn’t give up when troubleshooting issues to find intelligent long-term solutions. My less complex and more repetitive tasks go to another assistant with razor sharp attention to detail and follow through, who charges $25 per hour. The very time-consuming tasks, such as manually harvesting information from databases or manually sending LinkedIn messages, goes to another assistant who charges $12 per hour.
For financial advisors just getting started using a virtual assistant, I recommend hiring the best help you can afford, and expect to pay $30 to $40 per hour. Confidently outsourcing work that gets done correctly the first time is worth the investment. Because virtual assistants are often more productive than you would be completing the same task, you can expect to free up one afternoon of your time for around $100. What kind of impact could you make on your business with one quiet afternoon per week to focus?
But the true value of a good virtual assistant isn’t in the hours that get put back into your week. It’s the feeling of being able to address issues as soon as they come across your desk, to keep your to do list at zero at the end of each day, and to think clearly about important projects because you’re on top of your urgent obligations.
Try Out a Virtual Assistant Today!
If you’re a current client of Indigo Marketing Agency, you can use our top-rated Virtual Assistant service anytime at a rate of $40 per hour. Simply send an email to Tammy@indigomarketingagency.com with instructions and expect the task to be completed within 48 business hours. We’ll keep track of the hours and add them to your invoice at the end of each month. If you’re not a current client, you can get set up and try out our service at a rate of $45 per hour with a $200 setup fee. Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started now!
I love to hear your stories of success and productivity triumphs! How have you increased your productivity and grown your business? Send me an email anytime at email@example.com.
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency a full-service marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. It’s her goal to help advisors leverage content marketing to grow their businesses by embracing a true specialty.