What does a financial advisor do? (day in the life of a financial advisor)

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This isn’t some made up crap because I want to sell on something. Here are real accounts of what a day in the life of a financial advisor entails, from real professional financial advisors.

Why I wrote this blog

Why did I find it necessary to write about the day in the life of a financial advisor?


Because there is so much smoke-and-mirrors about the profession, nobody is given a clear picture of what an advisor actually does.

I’m really grateful to all the advisors who were so generous to participate in my study. No joke, there are alot of morons in the business who are salespeople in disguise and just sit around golfing all day while earning trailing commissions off their clients to whom they sold whole life insurance 20 years ago. The point here is to showcase what a good financial advisor does in the hopes it will inspire others who do truly want to serve clients not just sell.

I asked these financial advisors:

  • If possible, list out the tasks you execute each day, in order, and the approximate amount of time dedicated to each.
  • What % of the time is this a typical day?
  • What tasks do you leave out intentionally, and why is this so?
  • What tasks have you added that have been most helpful, and why is this so?

Read the blog to see what these financial advisor said about what a typical day looks like, and how someone in wealth management typically spends their time.

But first!

For those of you who are new to my blog, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and financial advisor marketing consultant. I have a newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics which is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an irreverent and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

Judson Meinhart, CFP®, BFA™ 

Our first case study is from Judson Meinhart, a financial advisor with Parsec Financial in North Carolina.

  • If possible, list out the tasks you execute each day, in order, and the approximate amount of time dedicated to each.
  • What % of the time is this a typical day?

I spend the first 30min-60min setting up the rest of my day.  I have any emails from clients routed to a specific folder so that I can address those first.  Most emails only require a quick reply, which I’ll take care of right away.  Others that require a more detailed response will either get forwarded to a teammate (financial planner or portfolio manager) who can research the answer, or scheduled to my calendar later in the day when I can focus on a response or call the client directly. 

After that, I’ll do a scan of the rest of my inbox and reply to anything that’s critical and time-sensitive.  The rest either get deleted or pended until later in the day.  After that, I shut my email down so I can focus on what’s next.  I’m pretty ruthless about eliminating distractions, especially with my inbox, since it can be such a time drag. 

Once the inbox is done, it’s off to client accounts.  I have queries set up to download daily transactions, and I’ll review those so I know what’s going on in client’s accounts in case someone calls with a question about a specific trade.  My Portfolio Manager and I have a standing hour set aside each week to identify tax loss harvesting opportunities or households that might need rebalancing.  The trades I see are usually just a follow-up action from that meeting.   

After my first 30min-60min, no two days really look the same.  My days generally consist of four large buckets:  meetings with clients, financial planning work for clients, content creation and marketing, and administrative or management tasks.  I usually have an hour of time blocked out in the morning for the most important tasks I need to get completed that day.  It’s usually follow-up from a client meeting or reviewing some analysis completed by one of our financial planners to prep for an upcoming meeting.  Yesterday it was early retirement projections for a corporate executive, tomorrow it’s a call with a planner to review a client’s estate plan.

We spend about 12 hours reviewing and updating an established client’s plan each year, but I’m only responsible for about 4.5 hours of it.  New client require significantly more work, and thus they have multiple meetings during their first year.  We did 127 client meetings last year.  That means roughly a third of my time, or 2.5-3 hours per day, was spent in meetings with clients or reviewing financial plans we created or updated. 

Twelve hours annually per year might seem a little excessive, but we’re VERY focused on financial planning for our clients.  In addition to the investment management, we’re creating distribution plans for our retirees, or savings plans for those who aren’t there yet.  We perform life and disability insurance analysis, help with medical insurance and Medicare decisions, look at long term tax efficiency, execute Roth conversions, devise charitable gifting strategies, adjust withholding from RMDs to avoid underpayment penalties, review estate planning documents, prepare estate distribution projections, and just about anything else that has to do with our client’s financial lives. 

Last year I also had 68 meetings with 41 prospective clients.  Twenty-seven of them eventually became new clients.  If you factor these meetings and required prep, about 50% of my year was spent on client facing activities. 

I also head up our financial planning team of rockstar financial planners who support all of our advisors.  A portion of my day is dedicated to management responsibilities, which consist of employee check-ins, troubleshooting any issues, the occasional deep research project, and facilitation a bi-weekly “FP Chat” where we discuss any timely strategies or share best practices.   

Admittedly I spend 30 minutes a day on social media, Twitter and LinkedIn, but focused on deliberately interacting and not just scrolling.  I’m working on building an audience for professional networking and business development reasons, and have found that having genuine interactions has been the best way to accomplish this. 

I also block out a half day each week to strictly focus on content creation for social median and my website.  I self-published a book earlier this year, Golfer’s Guide to Money, and I’ve been fairly diligent about keeping up the writing habit.  I’m working on repurposing a lot of my longer form work into shorter posts for LinkedIn and threads for Twitter.  Its been a fun way to flex my creative muscles and establish some social credibility when prospects go to check me out on line. 

Overall, my typical day as a financial advisor looks like this:

  • 1 hour / 13% Daily review & setup
  • 3.25 hours / 50% client or prospect meeting & client prep
  • 1.5 hours / 20% content creation & social media
  • 1 hour / 13% general administrative or management responsibilities
  • 45 minutes / 10% returning client calls and emails or other internal requests

What tasks have you added that have been most helpful, and why is this so?

I usually eat lunch standing up at my desk (so cliché, I know) but it affords me the opportunity go for a run or to the gym over my lunch hour.  Even when I’m stuck at the office, I’ll get outside for a 30-minute walk to get some fresh air and refocus.  This is a relatively new part of my day and has really been a game-changer for being able to maintain sharper focus in the afternoons.    

What tasks do you leave out intentionally, and why is this so?

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I rarely check the markets during the day.  It’s not our style to make tactical moves with client portfolios throughout the day, so it’s really just noise that I’ve learned to block out.  I have a few newsletters and research reports routed to a folder in my inbox and will usually take an hour or two on Friday to catch up on my favorites, which are mostly macro-themed.  I mostly rely on our internal research team’s notes for positions in our client portfolios.  

This is one of the most ironic discoveries for me, because before I became a Financial Advisor, I thought my entire day would be spent in front of a screen watching price fluctuations and digesting the latest market moves.  While this might be some Advisor’s experience, my reality couldn’t be farther from that.  I believe the real value we add comes in the form of conversations with the people we’re managing money for, not the actual management of the money itself. 

#2 Anonymous financial advisor

This person who to remain nameless but here is how they responded to my question about what their day looks like as a financial advisor.

What are your daily responsibilities as a financial advisor (and time committed to each)?

  1. Check and respond to email for any client communications that may change the priority of what I’m doing that day: 15 minutes.
  2. Check LinkedIn for any interesting posts to comment on or share, then same for Instagram: 15 minutes.
  3. Review workflows in Wealthbox for that day and follow up on any outstanding tasks, typically this may be a follow-up email from a coaching session the previous day: 45 minutes.
  4. Coaching call with client with prep: 1 hour 15 minutes
  5. Networking Zoom chat with financial advisor or another small business owner: 45 minutes.
  6. Check emails, social media to respond: 15 minutes.
  7. Review Morningstar and WSJ to check on markets and read articles: 15-30 minutes.
  8. Depending on project, review data gathered or assessment completed by client or complete a section on a financial plan: 1 hour.
  9. Work on outstanding compliance tasks: 1 hour.

That’s my typical work day because I work when my kids are in school or at summer camp. Some days have more networking chats, some have more coaching calls, some have more compliance if I have blocks of time.

So what percentage of the time is this a typical work day? Probably 50% because there is usually something else thrown in there: it may be a prospect call, personal appointment, some Continuing Education that I need to complete or an XYPN session to help with practice management, etc.

I am not a fan of compliance, so sometimes I find myself spending a lot more time on it in one week because I hadn’t been spending as much time on it each week.

Adding the workflows is SUPER helpful because I receive an email from Wealthbox that lets me know what I need to do for that day, and I won’t delete the email from my inbox until I’ve taken care of them.

Sara’s upshot on the day in the life of a financial advisor

What’d ya think of my blog on a day in the life of a financial advisor? Was this helpful?

If yes…

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Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll at least join my newsletter about financial advisor lead generation.

See you in the next one!

-Sara G

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