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Many financial advisors salivate over the idea of hiring a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants add hours, or even days, to your workweek. They boost your productivity, unlocking more income. And they cut your daily frustrations and stresses in half.

But hiring the wrong virtual assistant, or hiring before you’re ready, can increase your workload, expenses, and stress.

In this episode, you’ll discover the 5 things you must do before hiring a virtual assistant, so they help grow your business instead of sabotaging it.

Ready to unlock more hours, more cash, and easier growth with a virtual assistant? Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • The “ADE Method” for organizing your to-do list, boosting your productivity, and reaching your maximum income potential (3:44)
  • How outsourcing your weaknesses can financially cripple your company (even if your virtual assistant does a good job) (4:35)
  • Why hiring the most expensive virtual assistant costs less than hiring the cheapest applicant (5:25)
  • How to land top-tier virtual assistants (even if you can’t pay them as much as they want) (8:59)
  • The weird way a virtual assistant makes a better accountability partner than a 5-figure coach (10:43)
  • Why hiring an “A-Z” financial advisor marketing agency is a recipe for disappointment, failure, and outlandish costs (11:57)

If you’re looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, sign up for James’ brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/Coaching and pick up your free 90 minute download called “5 Keys to Success for Financial Advisors” when you join The James Pollard Inner Circle.

Discover how to get even better at marketing yourself with these resources:




Read Full Transcript

You're listening to “Financial Advisor Marketing”—the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients, without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal.

James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.

James: Hey, financial advisors, welcome to the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. This episode is inspired by an Inner Circle member. Yes, someone who has subscribed to my monthly paper-and-ink Inner Circle newsletter, which you can learn all about at TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching.

He suggested that I share some information about how to hire and train virtual assistants. The reason he’s suggested it to me is because I have built multiple businesses that have used virtual assistants. Even the Advisor Coach has had several virtual assistants over the years. Right now, I only have one because I’ve streamlined everything to where one person can handle the systems, but I’ve hired a bunch of virtual assistants over the years and I have information that can help you. [01:14.8]

For example, one of the things I did was have my virtual assistant stop checking my email, which was one of the biggest parts of her job. I was paying $40 per hour to have her sift through all the emails I receive on a daily basis. Every single day, I get between 20 and 50, if it's a weekday. On the weekend, it's a little less, but I get between 20 and 50 emails to hop on a call or jump on a Zoom, with everyone from salespeople trying to sell me software I don't need to financial advisors seeking free advice. And don't even get me started with the financial advisors who add me to their email lists without permission.

Let's be conservative and say she spent about an hour per day dealing with this stuff. That's $40 per day. If she works five days a week and four weeks per month, it means I pay $800 per month for her just to move emails around and delete stuff, and it was a waste, and quite frankly, it's not a waste, but I would rather have her do other stuff. [02:12.3]

I check my emails now, all of them, and I'm categorizing them into three categories. First category is Inner Circle members. Subscribers to the monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, they're my number one priority. I love them so much. I care about them. I want to see them win. They literally get bumped to the top of my inbox so I see their emails first and respond to them before doing anything else. They get me at my freshest, at my peak. The most mental clarity I'm going to have, they get it. I see their emails first. I respond to them and I give them all I have. It's the only coaching thing I do despite running a business, literally called the Advisor Coach.

Second category is people who want to do media features of some sort, or joint ventures or affiliates, or stuff like that. If you're someone who wants me to be a guest on your podcast, for example, then I welcome your email. The same is true if you're someone who wants me to speak to your organization or at an event you're hosting. [03:06.7]

My request is that you make a fat donation to my charity of choice and/or get your attendees to donate. That's not a guarantee that I will say yes. In fact, I say no to 90 or more than 90 percent of requests, but if I say yes, then I will ask you to make a donation to my charity of choice. I don't take money for speaking at these, or at least I haven't in a long time, I donate all the money to charity.

Then the third category is everyone else, because everyone else gets deleted. The reason I'm sharing this with you is because the first thing I want you to consider is this: do you really need a virtual assistant in the first place? You might not. I want you to look at your to-do list and see if there are any items that can be automated, delegated or eliminated.

I originally delegated my email to someone else with Inner Circle members being the exception, of course. What she would do is basically she set up a filter where the secret subject line that they get gets bumped immediately to a separate folder. I go in, I see that separate folder and I answer all the questions in there. But now I’ve eliminated that. I have eliminated her needing to do that. If that was her only task, then I really wouldn't have a need for a virtual assistant. [04:16.2]

If you have a lot of things that can be automated, you don't need a virtual assistant for those things, of course. If you have a lot of things that could be eliminated, obviously you don't need a virtual assistant, but if a lot of stuff on your to-do list is really truly, honestly, and, again, be honest with yourself, stuff that can be delegated or should be delegated, then maybe you do need a virtual assistant.

I also want you to think about if you're trying to hire a virtual assistant to fill a weakness. I know it's trendy for people to say that they hire to fill their weaknesses, but sometimes it can take your business off the rails, because you can't just hire someone if you don't know why you're hiring that person and what you want that person to do.

Compare this with something like taxes. You need to know a little bit about taxes in order to hire a good accountant. If you're building software, you need to know a little bit about development to hire a good developer. The same is true that it's in every skill. Every business that you're trying to hire for, I guess, is the right way to say it. [05:14.0]

That's the first thing I want to share with you, to make sure you take the time to really think about if you need a virtual assistant in the first place because you might not. The second thing I want to share with you is, do not go cheap with your virtual assistant.

When it comes to purchasing human capital in the marketplace, and that's what you're doing, you're purchasing human capital. It is a business transaction. Yes, we can have relationships. Yes, we can love our virtual assistant. We can love our employees. We can start a strong company culture. We can instill values, chase our mission. I get that. But at the end of the day, it is an investment in your business.

You would not invest $100,000 into an employee, if you thought that that employee would only generate $10,000. It's just dumb. You wouldn't do it. You're not going to do it out of the goodness of your heart. You're going to assemble a team of A-players and those A-players are going to generate more than they earn. That is just the way the marketplace is. [06:05.5]

I make a certain amount of money per year. I generate way, way, way more money than I personally get paid for other people, because that is just how capitalism works. I get $10, for example, by providing more than $10 to someone else's life or $10 in value, and when it comes to purchasing human capital in the marketplace, you really do, for the most part, get what you pay for.

Think about yourself, your skills as a financial advisor or financial planner, whatever you are, okay? You probably want to charge according to your skills and you would take offense at someone offering you a very small amount or you being underpaid, right? So does everyone else. Everyone else wants to get paid according to their skills, so don't try to nickel and dime people to do stuff for your business. Pay generously. [06:54.0]

The virtual assistants I’ve hired over the years have ranged from $30 an hour to $50 per hour. Some of you might think, Oh, that's not generous. Why is he talking about being generous? But it is what it is. It's more than the average pay for a virtual assistant. I’ve paid much more for freelancers with specific skills I need for a short period of time, kind of like I'm hiring a mercenary to come into my business and do a specific job, designers, people who can solve complex coding problems, things like that.

And if you can't afford to pay people decent wages, then guess what? You don't have a solid business. Sorry, but that's how capitalism works. You go out into the marketplace to provide products and services for people. If your products and services cannot generate enough capital to pay for their fulfillment, you have a failed business, period. If you need more money, you need to build a better business model that delivers products and services people want at prices that allow you to fulfill them successfully. You must be able to pay for the fulfillment. [07:53.8]

Now, I will say this. Some people are willing to accept less money for more flexibility. There are some people who are essentially task masters who run everything based on a schedule. They tell their virtual assistant they must be working at 9:00 every morning and they must have their screens on, and they must do blah, blah, blah.

Then there are other people, employers, I guess I should say, people who are hiring the virtual assistants, who offer more flexibility. I tend to fall in that camp. I don't really care how a virtual assistant gets his or her work done within reason, as long as it gets done.

Of course, I still need to be able to communicate with you and send messages, but other than that, I'm more interested in the results. I don't care if you're working in pajamas or if you slept in. I care about my business, serving financial advisors and making them happy. The financial advisors are the number one priority. As long as they are happy and they're excelling, I'm happy. If anything you do as a virtual assistant inhibits my ability to serve financial advisors at a high level, you've got to go. Aside from that, I am flexible and that's appealing to people. So, if you know you're not able to pay much, highlight your flexibility. Give something valuable that's not money. Be a better employer. Be a better boss. Be a better person. [09:09.4]

Number three is that having clear expectations is critical. This is going to be difficult for me to explain, but you want to walk a fine line between having very clear expectations without micromanaging, because even though you want to hire people and use their talents and let them excel in what they're doing, you want to give them a track on which to run.

Just like you wouldn't set out on a journey without a destination, you shouldn't hire a virtual assistant without clear expectations, and these expectations need to be quantifiable. That is the word of the day. Yay, word of the day, “quantifiable.” Say it with me. “Quantifiable.” Stuff needs to be quantifiable. There needs to be some sort of metric involved that you can track to determine if the person is meeting expectations.

If they're processing paperwork for you, it could be turnaround time. If they're reaching out to clients, it could be the number of clients contacted per week. If they're helping you address envelopes for your direct mail campaigns, it could be the number of envelopes addressed. I don't care, but it needs to be, say it with me, quantifiable. [10:13.8]

Also, don't forget to do your part. Having a virtual assistant is a symbiotic relationship because your assistant will make you more productive, but your assistant needs help from you to succeed in the role, so don't make his or her job harder than it needs to be. For instance, if one of the expectations is to proofread your blog posts before they go live, you need to make sure you have the blog post ready for your virtual assistant to review.

Oh, and by the way, a lot of financial advisors seek out coaching because they want accountability. They want someone to check in on them and make sure they're doing what they're supposed to do. Your virtual assistant can be a major accountability partner because you are hiring this person to do work, but that work can't really happen without you and stuff that you are doing, and your business and your systems. [11:07.0]

Following up with webinar attendees can't happen if there are no webinars. Helping you with your marketing campaign can't happen if there are no marketing campaigns. If you're one of those people who wants a, quote-unquote, “accountability partner,” that's an added benefit of having a virtual assistant.

Hey, financial advisors. If you'd like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James' monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, “The James Pollard Inner Circle”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.

Number four, give your virtual assistants a launching pad. Since this is the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, I want to talk about marketing for a minute. [11:57.3]

Every so often I will come across financial advisors who want to hire a marketing agency or a marketing person who will do marketing for them. They want someone who will do everything from A to Z. If you're one of those people, I want to make myself clear right now. You are setting yourself up for disappointment.

If you don't believe me, I have an entire article explaining why. The title of the article is 5 Reasons Why Hiring a Financial Advisor Marketing Agency Is a Bad Idea. If you type that into Google, again, “5 Reasons Why Hiring a Financial Advisor Marketing Agency Is a Bad Idea,” then you can see it. You just go to Google, type it in. You click on the article, you read the whole thing, and you can learn why.

One reason is insufficient knowledge makes you vulnerable. If you don't know what you're doing, you expose yourself to bad actors to take advantage of you. This is how fraud happens. This is how rip-offs happen, from a lack of knowledge. Have you ever heard of how taxi drivers will take longer routes, if they know a visitor isn't familiar with the area? That sort of thing happens in marketing all the time. Marketing agencies will nickel and dime you for the dumbest stuff, like setting up your Facebook pixel. It takes literally, literally less than 30 seconds to set up your pixel. Please, for the love of God, do not pay someone a thousand bucks to copy and paste the pixel code into your website. [13:16.8]

Another reason is because nobody, and I mean nobody, will care as much as you. Your business is your baby. It is your love. You care for it. You nurture it. You think about it. You want it to grow. For most employees, it's just not the case. I mean, you don't have to believe me. You can Google employee engagement, how many employees are disengaged at work, and you can see that.

You're not going to find a diamond in the rough for $15 an hour. I'm sorry, you're just not. Get rid of this whole “Oh, I’ve got to find the right person.” No, you need to pay wages that demand talent, okay? I'm sorry. But LeBron James isn't going to play basketball for $15 an hour, okay? You're not going to find the diamond in the rough, sorry. [13:57.0]

Many business owners also have this weird dream of hiring a marketing agency and that marketing agency can come in and scale them to seven figures and beyond, without any existing assets for systems. It's as if the marketing agency can wave a magic wand and, presto, seven-figure business. It doesn't work that way. It doesn't. If they could create the entire system, they would've already done it. Don't you get that? If these marketing agencies could create good businesses, then that's what they would be doing. They wouldn't be focused on one individual skill.

This seems goofy to me because we don't do it with other services. We don't hire a plumber and then expect a plumber to build the house. We don't hire a pressure washing company and then expect that company to shampoo our carpets and mop our hardwood floors. We understand that we're hiring them for a specific skill and it's on us—us—to either do the rest or hire other people for specific skills. Yet that type of thinking goes out the window for some financial advisors when they're hiring in the marketing space, okay? [14:59.7]

Allow me to give you a little tip that can save you a whole bunch of hassle and heartache. Hiring a marketing person or a marketing agency is a lot better when you already have proven audiences, proven messages, and proven business systems. Until you have those proven things, you're gambling. When you hire a virtual assistant, you should have clear, clear goals in mind and clear instructions.

In other words, there should be actual stuff for the person to do. This is the launching pad and this solves two problems. First, it helps the other person do the job well. Have you ever had a job where you felt like you were thrown out to fend for yourself? Yeah? It's not fun, is it? So, don't do that to another person.

Second, it's a better use of your money. After all, you're paying the virtual assistant to produce a result for you—remember, a quantifiable result—and the best way to maximize your chances of producing a desirable result in your business from the virtual assistant is to provide instructions on how to get said result. To do that, you should probably have achieved that result on your own. Okay? I hope that makes sense. I just gave you absolute gold, okay? [16:17.0]

Number five, give them permission to tell you what they would fix or improve in your business. Just like I said you should walk the fine line between setting expectations without micromanaging, you should walk the fine line between giving them a track on which to run while also letting them give their input on how to make your systems better. They will be working with your stuff every day. They will see things that you cannot see. Let them tell you how to improve.

For example, when I have the VA managing my email inbox, she would use all sorts of tags and filters and labels, and I never did any of that stuff. I would go in, start at the top and keep going until my inbox was empty. I used brute force while she used systems. She was very organized and that worked for both of us. She improved my email management. My world is better for her having existed. [17:08.4]

One of my Inner Circle members uses client appreciation events as a marketing strategy. He would do things like cooking classes and tell clients to bring friends, and when he started doing these, he would kind of rough it like I did with my inbox management. He would just do stuff and I'm sure a lot of you can relate. It's hard to get your thoughts out. You've never really thought about how you do things. You just do them. You're doers.

He brought on a virtual assistant and she was able to streamline everything, and it turns out that my Inner Circle member was adding unnecessary steps and he was taking too long with the steps themselves. His assistant was able to create a workflow within a project management tool that allowed them to cut the time it took. I think he cut it in half or something like that. I know people say, like, Oh, I cut the time in half, and that's not entirely accurate. I think that this is accurate. I think they literally cut the time in half. She basically put together a lot of step-by-step instructions and had copy-and-paste messages and scripts for hiring event planners, thanking people, paying bills, and more. [18:09.6]

Speaking of that, I want to give you a bonus tip. I know the title of this is going to be like “5 Things Financial Advisors Should Know about Hiring Virtual Assistants” or whatever, but I will give you a bonus tip. I'm going to over-deliver here. I'm going to go the extra mile, and the bonus tip is this: make documentation a part of the job.

Make it clearer to your virtual assistants that, as they do new things, they should document what they're doing. This has so many benefits. First, it allows you to review their work and see exactly what they're doing. Maybe there's something you know where you can make them more efficient and/or effective. I talk about letting them improve your business. Maybe there's something you know where you can help them, and if anything ever happens and, heaven forbid, you have to let that person go, then you will have documentation that will allow you to hit the ground running with your next hire. [18:57.0]

I strongly recommend using a real project management tool like Asana. It is so much better than slapping everything together in Google Drive. Asana will let you create step-by-step workflows, attach links, chat with team members and assign tasks. I love it so much, but there are a ton of services like that out there. You don't have to use Asana. There's Monday, Basecamp, Trello, and more. You have to go through them, search “best project management tool”, and start doing your research. It might seem silly to spend an entire day or two evaluating project management tools, but it is time well spent, and when you have a project management tool in place, documentation should be part of the job.

When your virtual assistant works on a specific task, he or she should be adding notes, should be writing things down, especially if it's a new task. Over the course of years, you will have a huge document filled with task notes, bullet points, and files, and what's cool is that you can set aside a day, maybe once per year or so, to review everything and improve it by pruning and/or adding stuff. You can improve the documentation. You can make it better. You can take it off Asana and make it nice and pretty, however you want to do it, whatever fits your style. [20:12.6]

But that's it for this week. I hope this has helped you. These were five things—six, really—financial advisors should know before hiring virtual assistants. I want to hear what you think. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Head over to LinkedIn and search James Pollard, P-O-L-L-A-R-D. I should come up and my headline should say, “Host of ‘Financial Advisor Marketing’ Podcast.” If I'm not number one in the search results, it means I'm doing something wrong. I should be the No. 1 James Pollard, P-O-L-L-A-R-D. Connect with me.

I look forward to seeing you there, and thank you so much for listening. I'll catch you next week. [20:48.8]

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