Just about every financial advisor is intimately familiar with the overwhelm induced by an overflowing email inbox. From emails from clients inquiring about basic service requests and financial plan priorities, to team members scheduling staff meetings and service meetings, not to mention the plethora of industry newsletters, helpful educational blog updates, networking group announcements, wholesaler product reviews – on top of all the outright spam – can easily amount to hundreds of emails coming in on a daily basis!
And in addition to simply finding the time to keep up with just looking at all the email that comes in (and reading at least some of them), financial advisors also find themselves responsible for dedicating large chunks of time to actually responding to emails. Which can make it seem nearly impossible to keep up with the deluge of information that comes into an advisor’s email inbox every day! Fortunately, though, there are a few ‘tricks’ that can help keep things under control.
In our 28th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and financial advisor communication expert Carl Richards talk about some simple strategies they use to manage their own own sometimes-overflowing email inboxes, and the cognitive relief that a well-organized (and well-managed) email inbox can bring.
For instance, Michael has specifically configured his own system to manage the tremendous volume of email that comes in on behalf of the blog. Specifically, he has implemented a system of multiple email addresses (to route inquiries by category to different team members), inbox folders with Outlook-based “Rules” to sort email into them (for separating out newsletters to review, informational items requiring no follow-up, and follow-up items that are low- or high-priority) and a routine where email is reviewed on a daily basis.
Delegating email management can also be a very effective means to stay on top of large volumes of email, especially for busy advisors who don’t have time to review every message that comes in. An executive assistant not only can ensure that spam messages are kept at a minimum, but can also make sure that high-priority items get a timely response and, depending on the level of responsibility delegated, can even send responses on behalf of the advisor. They can also ensure that any messages that can (or should) be delegated to another team member are routed as quickly as possible.
There are also some tech tools that can aid with email efficiency, such as TextExpander (for Mac users) and PhraseExpress (for PC users), which both quickly create template language for commonly repeated email responses (which can be most useful for advisors who aren’t particularly fast typists). Microsoft Outlook has a built-in feature that allows an email account owner to designate a second person as an Assistant, who can then access the email account simultaneously from a different computer to share the responsibility of sorting through email, and helping an advisor review only the messages they really need to see.
Ultimately, the key point is that having a well-managed, organized email box allows a financial advisor to spend less time on the distracting busywork that reviewing email can be, and more time to spend on tasks that require cognitive focus and concentration – like preparing financial plans and meeting with clients. Or even to enjoy more time with friends and family!