11 Aug Admin distribution – pooled work or dedicated support?
As an IFA firm grows, so, inevitably, does its need for administrative support. More advisers leads to more new business, and more clients mean more annual reviews – therefore the demand on the back office functions of the business become greater.
In my time in the Financial Service industry, I have come across many different methods and systems of distributing and managing the administrative workloads as a business grows, but the firms always have one of two elements in place. They Either:
- Pool all the work for central distribution to team members or;
- Have specific administrators allocated to provide support to specific advisers
I am going to go out on a limb and state what is possibly an unpopular opinion here, but based on my experience, if you’re looking for effective and efficient administration support as your business is growing, then I recommend that you ditch any pooled workload approach and stick with dedicated support. One administrator looking after one or two advisers.
Working with the same adviser(s) allows an administrator to build an understanding of the advisers personal working style and to pick up and remember any preferences they have with formatting, language, and approach. Of course, this is something that could happen with pooled work, but depending on how many advisers that administrator works for, it can become very easy to mix things up, and frustrating to try and remember all the nuances for each adviser.
An adviser with good, dedicated support will find that they do not have to spend time checking documents and repeating themselves, as time passes.
Dedicated support also allows an administrator to become familiar with advisers’ client banks, to build rapport with clients, and remember little things in conversations that add a lot of value to a client’s experience.
2. Job satisfaction
As an administrator there is nothing more satisfying than ensuring everything is prepared so the adviser is organised and ready for the day ahead. The administrator will get to know the stage each case has reached, the items that remain outstanding and where client updates or adviser action is required.
That sense of ownership and achievement is never quite the same with pooled work. You won’t necessarily see things through to completion, and the “to do” list is much less likely to feel complete. The job satisfaction is so much greater when you are providing dedicated support and getting ownership over what you do. Greater job satisfaction results in greater job performance.
3. The little things
Administrators are so often the people in the business who recognise the little things that will make big changes. They take the time to chat to the elderly clients on the phone, they’ll set templates up to reduce the time spent on certain jobs in future, and they’ll think about how things could be done better.
If your administrators are working from a pooled “to do” list that, essentially never ends, you are taking away the time for reflection. An efficient administrator on a dedicated support model won’t twiddle their thumbs if their new business or review works is up to date – given time to take stock, they will carry on with all the unthought of, non-specific tasks that add untold value to your advisers, and your business.
4. Favouritism and conflict
In my experience, the pooled admin approach has been implemented when a firm has a situation where there is a clear divide between the experience and skills level of the administrative team. Disagreements between advisers with regard to whom they want as their support, leads to a compromised approach of pooled work.
As you would expect, this doesn’t tend to end well. Advisers approach the more senior or experienced administrators directly, asking them to do their cases or help them out (flattery features highly in this) and, feeling unable to say no, the experienced administrators end up overworked, burned out and disillusioned. The more junior/developing administrator doesn’t get the experience or support they need to develop and are probably not fully utilising their time. If they’re also picking up on the uneven workload distribution, there is a good chance that they will also be feeling pretty demoralised
5. Career and skills development
If the needs above are being met and the administrator has a sense of ownership and achievement over their work, a good relationship with the adviser and they are both working towards them same goal (happy clients), then the administrator is far more likely to reach the point of wanting to learn new skills. They’re more likely to take on extra responsibility or improve their technical ability, as this will only enhance the adviser support. This can only be of great benefit to both the adviser and your firm.