How to Manage an Overextended Team

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

Dear Bev,

I work for a large financial firm. I am continually frustrated by the fact that we generate lots of good ideas and talk about what we need to do, but rarely get things done. Many things stay open-ended, or up for discussion.  I am part of the problem because I am so busy, as is my team. How can I be more of a doer and less of a talker?

Mike M, NY, NY

Dear Mike,

This is a common complaint in too many organizations, and your question really has two parts: How do you manage time more effectively to get more done?  How do you take ideas and creativity and turn them into steps that lead you to complete whatever has been discussed?

I give you a great deal of credit for looking at your own role in the problem. While you may complain about it, if you aren’t offering a solution or an idea to fix it, you are by definition part of the problem!

Let’s look at both pieces.  From a time perspective, there are only so many hours in the day. Firms, teams and individuals need to prioritize. What’s the end goal? What does success look like? What are the priorities that support the end goals? What order are these priorities in, or should they be in? It’s important day-to-day, sometimes hour-by-hour to check in on what you are doing and make sure you are making good choices. The focus should be 80% or more of your time on priority-oriented activities. We waste so much time because we aren’t focused on what matters most.

The other piece of your question pertains to creating a plan for implementing new ideas. Behaviorally some people tend to be better at one than the other – creative “out of the box” thinking, versus step-by-step, getting things done. Both are necessary when you want to create change.

Once the team has decided on what to do, identify the person on your team who is best at process management, or have a discussion about exactly how to get the idea in place. Think in terms of who, what, when, how and how much it will cost, if appropriate. Create a step-by-step plan with accountabilities and circulate this to everyone. The more you clearly state a plan and involve multiple people with ongoing communication, the higher the chance you will get it done.

Dear Bev,

What is the difference between a wealth manager and a financial advisor, and why is my marketing team forcing me to define myself as one or the other?

Tim D., Southern Connecticut

Dear Tim,

If there is one thing I love about this business it’s our fondness for jargon. The more terms we can create to say virtually the same thing, the better!

This is one of those questions that is open to interpretation. Generally a wealth manager is offering a broader array of services than a financial advisor. They may be reviewing insurance, estate planning, real estate and other non-investment related pieces for the client. In general, wealth managers are offering more of a relationship service and looking at the holistic picture, goal setting, and making recommendations for other products and services or even finding other trusted advisors. Some wealth managers have these other experts in-house, such as attorneys or accountants.

A financial advisor can do this too, but sometimes they are doing purely planning and not the investment piece, or planning and the investment piece, or investments only. And many people – such as insurance agents, bankers and brokers – might call themselves “financial advisors,” even though their functions are more narrowly defined than those of independent advisors.

Are you confused yet? Think about what the investing marketplace confronts. What your marketing team is trying to ask you is to define your offering, and define how you want to talk about what you do. Simply using a generic term and expecting your prospects to understand what it means is marketing folly. Get clear on what your prospects are getting when they work with you.

We in the industry worry more about terminology than the investing public does. The public is confused. Cut through the clutter and be clear and descriptive about what someone will experience in working with you.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers.  She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal,, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.

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