Fall Checklist AND Stoplist

Happy late September!  I hope you all had a great summer full of boating, chasing kids in pools, golf, warm sunsets and lots of tall, cool beverages.

Now, welcome back to reality. Fall is here, which means we all have fifteen(ish) weeks left in the year to accomplish a whole lot. What’s your team’s Fall Checklist & Fall Stoplist?

Let’s start with the Fall Checklist.

Checklists are great. I love checklists. For those of you who aren’t on the checklist bandwagon, Atul Gawande’s best-selling book The Checklist Manifesto, should do the trick. Checklists are excellent tools for delivering results and optimizing a team’s time, especially when the checklists are simple and managed by process-focused team members.

But don’t stop there. Your team has about 2,000 “Working Team Hours” per year (assuming a 42-hour work week and 2 weeks of vacation) and an increasing boatload of things to take care of—including getting through your Fall Checklist.

How are you going to pull it off? Work harder? How about working smarter. With the help of your Fall Stoplist.

TEAM EXERCISE: At your first September team meeting, review your Fall Checklist and, as a team, create your Fall Stoplist. Make sure every team member adds at least one “Stop” item to the list.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Stop: Taking on clients who don’t fit your ideal client profile. Every client deserves to be some advisor’s best client. If the client doesn’t fit your ideal client model, give them suggestions of other advisors who might better fit their needs. Per PriceMetrix, “Outperformers recognize that, by saying no to some, they will have the capacity to deliver more to those who fit with their core value proposition.”1

2. Stop: Worrying about what your clients “may” think about selling out of their embedded capital gains before you have the discussion. Your clients asked you to help them make money. You delivered. Now they have to pay taxes. Granted, paying taxes is not much fun; but not having to pay taxes isn’t much fun either—you pay taxes when you make money. Help your clients reality-check if they’re having to pay capital gains taxes because you made them money and you’re trying to help them transition into a more tax-sensitive solution that you may not have had access to previously or didn’t know about before.

3. Stop: Trying to time the market. History has taught us that trying to time the market is incredibly difficult – if not impossible.  Markets can go through large swings in short periods of time and trying to determine if current market trends are going to continue or are ready to reverse can consume huge amounts of time and energy – and be extremely costly if wrong. Just look at 2017 calendar-year returns compared to returns for the first half of 2018.2017 and 2018 mirror returns

Source: U.S. Small Cap: Russell 2000® Index; U.S. Large Cap: Russell 1000® Index; Global Equity: MSCI World Net Index; Non-U.S.: MSCI EAFE Net index; Infrastructure: S&P Global Infrastructure Index; Global High Yield: Bloomberg Global High Yield Index; Global REITs: FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Developed Index; Cash: Citigroup 1-3 Month T-Bill Index; EM Equity: MSCI Emerging Markets Index; U.S. Bonds: Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index; EMD: JPM EMBI Plus Bond Index; Commodities: Bloomberg Commodity Index Total Return; Balanced Index: 5% U.S. Small Cap,15% U.S. Large Cap, 10% Global, 12% Non-U.S., 4% Infrastructure, 5% Global High Yield, 4% Global REITs, 0% Cash, 6% EM Equity, 30% U.S. Bonds, 5% EMD and 4% Commodities. Index returns represent past performance, are not a guarantee of future performance, and are not indicative of any specific investment. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested in directly. FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY

In our view, a globally-diversified multi-asset portfolio has the best potential to offer long-term investing success.

4. Stop: Building a new portfolio for every client who walks in the door. Investment and product due diligence, construction, and maintenance costs time and money. Determine your strategic inventory; know when to build and when to buy a portfolio. According to Cerulli, 43% of IBDs and 27% of wirehouse advisors are already using models to be more strategic about their inventory – and their time.2

5. Stop: Ignoring the liability that comes from low-revenue households your teams haven’t spoken to in years. Just because your team doesn’t talk with them, doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for those households. If your rep code is tied to them, figure out how to service them or find another solution for them. And choosing to service them takes time – make sure it’s worth yours.

6. Stop: Looking for reasons not to be invested right now. With the U.S. stock market at all-time highs, interest rates rising and geopolitical risks spreading around the globe, it could be easy to find reasons to avoid investing. However, thinking that “it’s different this time” historically hasn’t been a winning strategy. Time is on the investor’s side and those with long-term horizons nearly always have been rewarded with positive investment outcomes.chart about long-term odds in your favor

Sources: 60/40 Mix--40% S&P 500 Index, 20% MSCI EAFE Index, 35% Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index; 5% FTSE NAREIT All Equity REITS Index Index returns represent past performance, are not a guarantee of future performance, and are not indicative of any specific investment. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested in directly.

7. Stop: Taking calls from “That Client,” who calls all the time, puts you and your staff in a bad mood, and psychologically stops productivity.  Enough said. You know who “That Client” is in your book.

8. Stop: Giving away financial planning. According to a 2017 Planning Profession fee survey, the cost of creating a full financial plan is about $2500 and takes time and team resources to create. It’s incredibly valuable – don’t give it away as part of the prospecting phase, only for clients to walk out your door with the plan and try and implement it themselves.3

9. Stop: Not allocating enough time to your COI list. When correctly cultivated and guided, COIs can be powerful advocates for you and your business. Yes, it takes time to deliver A-client level service to COIs—but it’s how they gain an understanding of how you will treat their trusted relationships.

10. Stop: Not following through on any of the action items or best practices learned from the conferences you attended this year.  You invested the time to attend the conference—the time away from your office, your clients and maybe even your family. Do yourself the courtesy of choosing at least one action item from each conference to follow through on.


When you and your team have agreed on your Stoplist, plaster copies of it around the office and add it to your weekly team meeting so you’re all holding each other accountable for correcting these habits.

The bottom line

Maximize your potential in the next 15 weeks by being purposeful with your time—that includes both what your team chooses to do and what you all choose to stop doing. Time spent thinking and worrying is just as costly as time spent actually doing – both detract from your team’s true productivity. Whether they are physical or psychological barriers, stop doing the things that are sucking up your team’s time in order to focus on what’s most important – your best clients. Happy fall my friends. What things are your team stopping this Fall to take back time to focus more on clients?

Source: 2015 PriceMetrix The Anatomy of Outperformers 

2 Source: October 2017 Cerulli Edge Report 

3 Source: 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey