For financial advisors in the early phases of starting their own practice, especially in the fee-only part of the industry, being successful often comes down to the resources and advice available to the advisor. A call with a mentor or peer to ask something as simple as, “Was this hard for you, too?” or “Is this a good choice?”, or even just to ask for references and resources can provide not only monumental comfort but also affirm an entrepreneur’s choices, thus allowing them to take the next step forward – and hopefully to become a successful advicer in the meantime! However, the advisors on the other end of the call, who are eager to give back to the community that originally gave them support and mentorship, often face their own challenges as they look to provide support to up-and-coming advisors without overwhelming their own calendars and potentially stalling the growth of their own firms.
In this article, Meg Bartelt, founder of Flow Financial Planning, explains how (and why) she developed her own “Office Hours/Ask Me Anything” system, how she prevents time creep, and how advisors can develop their own systems of mentorship and trust.
From an overarching perspective, Meg’s Office Hours structure – 45 minutes, every Friday, with up to three people – starts from a time management perspective. Many advisors looking to give back begin with a very open structure. For example, Meg started by setting aside 30 minutes each Friday to have one-on-one discussions with whoever wanted to talk to her. However, more advisors began to reach out, and more slots were added – plus, conversations occasionally went over 30 minutes and ate into even more time! Designating a set block of time for Office Hours for multiple people at the same time helps manage both expectations and time for advisors on the call. And, of course, advisors are not obligated to hold weekly Office Hours. Biweekly or even just monthly meetings can be more than sufficient.
Once an advisor has decided how frequently to hold Office Hours, all that’s left is to get started. Initial set-up doesn’t have to be complex: a sign-up system, such as ScheduleOnce (which Meg uses) or Calendly, and a social media post or email broadcasting the service may be sufficient depending on how much of a following the advisor already has. Preparation can also be minimal; Meg asks participants for their contact information only, and often enters Office Hours without having done any research or advance preparation for the session.
Ultimately, the key point is that giving back to the advisor community doesn’t have to be hard, complicated, or time-consuming. Sometimes, it’s as simple as lending expertise, empathy, and community when an advisor needs it most. One connection, insight, or aid can be all it takes to help transform a young advisor’s career – but first, one has to start by opening the door!