Outside-IN

Learn to love delegating

Pick good people and get great results

Aug 21, 2019 @ 4:07 pm

By Scott Hanson

As a planner and adviser for almost three decades, I've become good at delegating. But I sure didn't begin that way.

Like many of you, I started with a desk, a phone, and a manager who gave me a lot of encouragement, but no leads or clients. I worked my tail off for a few uncertain years before I saw tangible results.

Eventually, I had a nice book of clients to serve and generated enough income to take care of my needs. Referrals began coming in and life was good.

But it wasn't perfect.

As we grew, my business partner and I had a small staff, but we were still the ones doing most of the financial work: the tedious, time-consuming, behind-the-scenes tasks that are necessary to run an advisory firm.

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It would have been easy just to stay on that path, but we wanted to build something larger. It may sound disingenuous, but we wanted to help as many people as we could. Of course, we knew we'd benefit in the process, but we viewed it as the proverbial win-win.

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In part, achieving that growth required a technology play, but a lot of what our business still requires is human capital — good people. So we began to plow profits back into the business in the form of payroll.

One of the biggest obstacles that I faced was letting go of meaningful, important work and trusting someone else to do it — delegating.

The tough thing about delegating is that you have to give up responsibility and fully trust another person to service a client, prepare a financial plan, do trades and perform other tasks.

It's hard. There's the fear that the other person might damage a hard-won client relationship or make a trading error … or worse. But while it may be hard, over my career, I've moved from feeling fear and dread when I delegated to a place where it brings me joy.

Here are just a few of the benefits you can reap by delegating.

First, other members of your team can have meaningful careers. (Watching employees grow is one of my favorite parts of what I do.)

Second, it frees you up to do the things you really like doing. (By delegating to a great team, I'm able to do work that inspires me.)

And third, it's great for your clients, who benefit from a wider array of services (and better service) and get to form "sticky" relationships with other people inside your firm in addition to you. (When I look at the services we offer today, there's no way we'd be where we are if I hadn't gotten proficient at delegating.)

If you're like most people, the concept of delegating may sound appealing, but fear of doing it (or a lack of familiarity) keeps you from moving forward. That not only keeps you from growing, it keeps you from fully enjoying what you do.

Lean into it. Learn to love delegating. In the end, everyone will be better for it: you, your employees and your clients.

[More: Succession planning where the adviser keeps working?]

Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with over $4 billion in AUM.

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