Financial adviser Dewey Engelsma perfected his time-management skills by investing in technology and parceling out his day.
It required a financial commitment, but was a necessity over the last seven years as he's built up his independent firm DAE Capital. At the same time he's raising seven children with his wife.
"I have to be deliberate about the use of my time, segmenting out business and personal time," he said. "Early on, I spent too much time on the business to the detriment of home life."
The most important change he made was investing in technology.
Mr. Engelsma looked for software solutions to replace chunks of time he was spending doing administrative tasks. For one, he subscribes to Copytalk, a dictation service that provides a transcription of his meeting notes right to his assistant.
His assistant adds the notes into its Redtail Technology client relationship management system and assigns activities to someone in the five-person office.
The firm, which manages about $80 million, also put Morningstar Advisor Workstation to work for efficient research and Riskalyze, which provides a quantitative measure of clients' risk tolerance, known as a Risk Number, as a replacement for a three-page investment questionnaire the firm used to have clients fill out and then needed to review.
The Risk Number is more dynamic in how it assesses risk and it's a great check for how aggressive the client says he or she wants to be, Mr. Engelsma said.
The Riskalyze platform also provides great documentation for showing efforts to meet the best interests of clients, which increasingly is a focus of regulators, he said.
Finally, the firm integrates eMoney Advisor, which it rebrands, to aggregate clients' assets to gain a full view of their holdings without poring through multiple portfolios individually. It's been a bonus that clients can add assets and really see the planning the firm is doing for them, he said.
"These things don't come cheap, but you have to make these kinds of investments," Mr. Engelsma said.
He's also learned to manage his time by focusing certain hours of the day on specific types of thinking and work.
He uses the very early morning – before 6 am – to gather his thoughts about the day and to read the Bible.
After helping his family start the day, he uses 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. to think about client issues and get planning done before his assistants come in and the phones start to ring.
By 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. he's putting his phone (and thus his email) away to concentrate on his wife and their kids, a 15-year-old and a set of 4-year-old twins.
He's trained his clients not to call him in the evening unless there's an urgent matter.
"I used to feel a compulsion to respond to every client email in 10 minutes and that wasn't working out at home," Mr. Engelsma said.
He also added a junior adviser to manage the firm's Facebook page and other social media, as well as to do other planning work and provide some business development help.
Mr. Engelsma had invested some of his time using Twitter, but he decided it wasn't a profitable use of his time and did not bring value to clients, the ultimate goal he thinks about when it comes to parceling out every spare minute.
• Invest in technologies that provide the adviser with more time to meet with prospects and clients.
• Say no. For Mr. Engelsma that means rejecting invitations to most due diligence trips and conferences because they do not really bring value to the clients.
• Hire people to do the jobs that the adviser is less passionate about. For example, bring in a junior adviser to tackle plan creation, trading, rebalancing and even social media, so the adviser can focus on business development and client communications.
• Be responsive to clients' needs but set limits on when they can expect to get a response. Give them a way to always reach you with urgent situations.
• Expect to get up early or go to bed late, structuring a realistic time schedule for focusing on different activities through the day.