“Playing office” is a popular adult game of workplace procrastination. Smart financial advisors should cease this energy-wasting behavior.
So say the co-hosts of the podcast, “The Perfect RIA,” Matthew Jarvis, founder of Jarvis Financial, and Micah Shilanski, founder of Shilanski & Associates, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
“Playing office is putting off the things you really need to do because they’re hard and spending your time on things that aren’t valuable to clients,” Shilanski says.
Notes Jarvis: “Ninety-nine times out of 100, you don’t need to spend so much time on things that aren’t adding value.”
Instead of tackling the more challenging aspects of their job, like communicating with clients or marketing their practices, financial advisors spend too much time on busywork, the advisors say.
They argue that every advisor can double the value they provide clients — which often dovetails with increased efficiency and revenue.
Listeners to “The Perfect RIA” learn quickly that playing office too much does nothing to help create a successful practice.
Jarvis, 41, and Shilanski, 40, created the show in 2017 for successful advisors to tell other advisors what works for them and what doesn’t.
Targeting RIAs originally, the podcast in fact attracts financial advisors across the board, including those with Ameriprise, Edward Jones, LPL Financial, Merrill Lynch and Raymond James.
Releasing three new episodes a week, the audiocast boasts 60,000 downloads monthly. The total count is 1.2 million.
Mainly, Jarvis and Shilanski share their own best practices, as well as some that flopped. Guest advisors make similar disclosures.
The podcast’s guiding principle is, “Do what works.”
Besides focusing on the business side, “The Perfect RIA” helps advisors improve their lifestyle by expanding family time and taking long breaks away from the office while remaining profitable.
As Jarvis puts it in the interview: “Be “super-intentional about what you’re trying to get accomplished.” Adds Shilanski: Be “hyper-intentional about the lifestyle piece of building [your] practice.”
Seattle-based Jarvis, with AUM of $164 million, focuses on retirement planning for local clients. He is the author of “Delivering Massive Value: The Financial Advisor’s Guide to a Highly Profitable, Hyper-Efficient Practice” (2021).
Shilanski, with $400 million to $500 million in AUM, specializes in federal retirement benefits. He is the founder of Plan-Your-Federal-Retirement.com and is based in Anchorage, Alaska, where he was born and raised.
ThinkAdvisor recently held a phone interview with both advisors, who were speaking from their respective practices.
They confess to sometimes still playing office.
But “the question is how much time are you spending at playing office, and how aware are you of that?” Jarvis says. “A lot of advisors tell themselves stories.”
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: You talk about advisors “playing office” and that it’s not a good thing. What is it, and what’s bad about it?
MICAH SHILANSKI: We’re all guilty of this. Playing office is putting off the things you really need to do because they’re hard and spending your time on things that aren’t valuable to clients.
It’s putting off communication to clients, putting off marketing, putting off value-adds [and more].
We put off hard work and fill it with busywork: “Oh, I need to check the Wall Street Journal for the 16th time today” or, “I need to research this or that stock.”
How often do we check our email account and refresh things? We get notifications, which is like somebody standing next to you with a giant gong and ringing that sucker. It pulls you off track.
We get stimulation from notifications, but they lead us to play office more and more instead of being focused, saying, “This is the time I dedicate to [a specific] activity.”
MATTHEW JARVIS: Ninety-nine times out of 100, you don’t need to spend so much time on things that aren’t adding value.
Some of the “busywork” you describe is actually necessary. Should advisors eliminate it?
JARVIS: The question is: How much time are you spending on playing office, and how aware are you of that?
A lot of advisors say, “I’m not playing office — I’m working.” Well, hang on: If you have 100 clients and are spending 10 hours a year per client, that’s only 1,000 hours.
Where are all the other hours going? Probably to checking email and reading The Wall Street Journal.
What differentiates your podcast from those of other advisors?
SHILANSKI: We have a big goal about being transparent within the industry: Let’s open things up and say, “This is what’s working; this is what didn’t work.”
We created the podcast because we wanted advisors to open up their practices.
When we were starting out 15 or 20 years ago, it would have been so great to know such things because the number of mistakes we made was vast.
The other key element is that we want to help [advisors] improve their lifestyle, not just their business. That is, the value they have at home to make sure they’re better spouses and parents.
Do you interview advisors on the podcast?
JARVIS: On our “What Works Wednesday,” we interview other financial advisors or coaches that we respect.
More important than interviewing [big names] is talking with advisors we know who are doing really great work in their practice and having real success.
Oftentimes, they’re in the shadows of the industry [lying low] because they’re just heads-down working.
As we meet such advisors, we say, “Come and share your story, and tell us how you’ve eliminated playing office and are delivering more value.”
What’s the main reason that advisors listen to your podcast?
SHILANSKI: Well, clearly for the entertainment value! No, mainly they want to know what’s working.
For example, [client] surge meetings [scheduled to raise productivity] is a value-add that we’re seeing transform the industry. Almost everybody is talking about surge meetings because they deliver more value to clients and your team.