BY PAUL K. BATES
Is the portfolio that is your business day structured according to your return objectives?
There’s a really old joke that goes, “How do you carve a statue of a horse?” The answer, “Chip away all the bits that don’t look like a horse.” This, of course brings to mind that while there are tasks that can be completed in a day, most jobs are to be executed over time. Generally speaking each of us has about two hundred days a year that are available for client-facing activities. As a person who has always been a bit of an over-achiever, I have constantly thought about how to get the most out of each of those days. I’m also one of those people that doesn’t work well when my desk is cluttered with all the things that I don’t need to actually do today! So here’s what I do.
I start with a meticulously kept calendar: one that is electronic, and one that is a paper printout. I also carry a journal with me everywhere I go. I also have a ‘bring-forward’ filing system in a drawer that is equipped with twelve folders for the months of the year and thirty-one daily folders. Each morning I pull out today’s folder to see what I need to do or follow-up on, and each evening I reload the drawer with everything except what I need to look at this evening. When everything other than my current priorities is out of my sight, I focus better.
I am committed to radical time-management. I apportion time for meetings in units of ten minutes and only expand the time if I am (or can be) convinced that more time is necessary. I start on time; if someone is late their time is reduced or rescheduled: generally others get trained fairly quickly – someone once asked me why I start meetings at 8:00 a.m. – I told them that I’m busy at 7:00 a.m.!
I take notes! These notes include my confirmation of next steps and timing. Finally, I always have a ‘red letter’ day circled in my calendar for no more than six weeks ahead – this is a do-nothing but relax day.
When short-term investment activities are carefully blended with long-term investment activities, my portfolio return is maximized—and so will yours. OK, time’s up!
Published with acknowledgement to Thomson Carswell, publishers of the 2nd edition of Sales Force Management in the Financial Services by Paul K. Bates, from which parts of this article were drawn.
A Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA), Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants (FCMA) and Certified Management Consultant (CMC), Paul's career has spanned: senior academic administration; business and divinity school lecturing; investor advocacy; capital markets regulation; investment dealer executive leadership with P&L accountability; expert witness and international consulting in the financial services sector. He is a former member of the council of Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Paul holds a Master's degree in Theological Studies from McMaster Divinity College, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Theology. Paul is available for speaking engagements through Blu Pagoda LLC.