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Five ways advisors can be productive in August without totally killing their Jimmy Buffet buzz

The bad news is that clients are away -- or avoid you -- but that's good news for getting organized for the Fall crush

Friday, August 9, 2019 – 11:49 PM by Guest Columnist Abby Salameh
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Abby Salameh: It is very tempting to use this blissful slump in client activity to bust out daily 12 p.m. office beers or “work” remotely from beside the pool with your best-of Jimmy Buffet playlist on repeat.

Brooke's Note: Just what we all need: Abby Salameh pulling at our collective August conscience as members of the RIA business. We are all pathologically type-A people who are jones-ing Labor Day to pass and for the fire hose of autumn cortisol to course back through us. But here is Abby adding to our to-do lists. I protested against this column but I was assuaged when she agreed August was made for slacking and that Jimmy Buffet's changes in latitude are the point. Here we go.

With many clients away on vacation or preparing to send their kids back to school, the late-summer lull presents advisors with a rare and exciting opportunity to actually relax.

And yes, it is very tempting to use this blissful slump in client activity to bust out daily 12 p.m. office beers or “work” remotely from beside the pool with your best-of Jimmy Buffet playlist on repeat, but (and there’s always a but, isn’t there?) this downtime can actually be used productively.

Think of it: When else will you actually have the time to focus on the business development, marketing and investment management tasks you’ve been pushing off for months? Not after Labor Day!

Say 'never'

When else are you going to have a free afternoon to catch up on any major life changes – such as a marriage divorce, birth, job change or business venture – that your clients may have experienced since you last checked in? I hate to say it, but the answer to those questions may very well be: Never.  

So if you’re inclined to use this time for something other than hosting a weekly cornhole tournament, here are five business-building tasks you can check off to optimize service provision, improve client acquisition, support profitability and prepare your practice for growth.
#1 - Put square pegs in square holes (Segment your client base)
Segmenting your book of clients, if you haven’t already, will help your practice operate more efficiently and achieve higher levels of profitability. Clearly defining what you deliver – and to whom – will facilitate good use of staff time and ensure you’re paying due attention to business growth opportunities.
There are several ways to segment your client roster: for instance, by revenue generated per household, total investable assets, client age and income, potential for growth, years with your firm or potential for referrals. Dividing your clients into tiered groups will allow you to define and plan whom to invite to client appreciation events, how frequently to meet with each client, how often to conduct portfolio reviews and which clients should receive additional value-added concierge services.
Client segmentation not only helps with resource allocation, it also gives you the impetus to clearly communicate with clients about what services they can expect from you and your team, and when.
#2 - Play around on social media (Review and add to your LinkedIn connections)
The quiet summer period is a great time to review your LinkedIn connections, to make sure your clients, their children and other family members are included in your network. While doing this you can also scan their pages for any recent job changes or new business ventures you may not know about.
You can also take the time to look carefully at your clients’ first connections on LinkedIn. Have any of their associates or business connections recently started a new executive position? If so, he or she may need help with managing the financial implications of a new salary, equity compensation or a change in tax situation. The next time you meet with your client, you can ask if it’s OK to reach out to the contact to discuss a potential new advisory relationship.  
#3 - Party! (Plan upcoming events and initiatives)
While things may be peaceful now, it is important to plan out the rest of your year before you’re once again flooded with client work. Have an important business development event coming up in the fourth quarter? You’ll thank yourself later if you get the bulk of the planning and organization out of the way now. 

Interested in boosting your blog or thought leadership output for the rest of the year? Start writing and build up a runway of ready-to-go articles to publish over the next few months. The same goes for marketing and social media campaigns: The more time you take to create a road map now, the more successful these initiatives will be in the long run.
#4 - Second-guess your clients (Review your planning assumptions and rebalance)
Quiet periods are always a good time to review and revise your clients’ planning assumptions. The long-term bull market may have skewed your clients’ investment preferences, so now is a good time to ensure that all of your client portfolios are allocated in accordance with their strategic asset allocations and long-term objectives. 

As you review your prior assumptions, make sure your clients’ portfolios aren’t over or underweight different asset classes; rebalance, and take care to identify any opportunities for tax-loss harvesting. 
#5 - Experience the after-life (Review estate plans, trusts and wills.)
Chances are, at least a few of your clients have recently experienced a major life event. Whether they got married, retired, sent children off to college, welcomed a new grandchild or are dealing with the long-term illness of a spouse or loved one, it is a good idea to take a second look at your clients’ estate plans, trusts, wills and beneficiary designations to make sure you are up to date with their current life situations.
Additionally, you can also use this time to check in with your clients’ estate attorneys and CPAs to get on the same page.
Bury acorns (Focus on your future.)

Sure, you could use the slow summer season to perfect that diving board backflip, but it will be hard to focus on your form when there are so many crucial business development and client service initiatives just waiting to be done – initiatives that will set your business up for future growth! After all, when you’re busy with clients, it can be hard to put a serious focus on building out the future of your practice.

Taking some extra time today will not only help you in the busy days to come, but your clients and employees alike will appreciate your attention, diligence and attention to detail and your practice will be stronger as a result. 

Don’t worry, the pool will still be there on Saturday. 

Abby Salameh is chief marketing officer at HighTower, www.hightoweradvisors.com and she wrote this article in the chaise longue beside her swimming pool.

Logan Alexander

Logan Alexander

August 15, 2019 — 8:35 PM
Just a heads up you spelled Jimmy Buffett's name wrong! Great article otherwise

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