This new column gives you an inside look at an advisor’s scheduling process, and provides tips on how to better manage your practice.

Kathy McMillan, CFP, RFP, FDSRichardson GMP in Calgary, Alberta (she also has Ottawa clients)

house iconNumber of households: 300

client type iconClient type: Oil and gas company employees make up about 90% of her Calgary book. Those clients are between 45 and 60, and make $200,000 per year on average. For her Ottawa book, most of her clients work for the government and military, and are between 50 and 60. They make between $60,000 and $85,000 per year.

client type iconClient communication: She talks to clients often over the phone and via email due to their busy schedules. She conducts fewer long meetings as a result, but still connects with people regularly (see below). She books about 10 appointments per week.

client type iconSecrets to success: Team support is critical, says McMillan. She has two associates who conduct meetings, take lower-asset referrals and help build financial plans, as well as two assistants who handle administrative tasks. She also uses automated appointment-booking tool Goldmine, which shares her schedule among clients and team members.


Client meetings are scheduled several months in advance, says McMillan, but preparation starts the week prior to appointments. Every Thursday or Friday, she and her team review all relevant client files. She also assigns staff tasks for the coming week.

For each pulled file, McMillan has her team list every client investment that should be evaluated, such as RRSPs during tax season. Meanwhile, she adds notes to each file so she’s able to provide extra context and suggestions during meetings (for example, a client may be invested in stock that’s losing value or his goals may seem outdated).

The day before each scheduled meeting, McMillan and one of her associates analyze her clients’ returns, and she organizes her notes. She also builds time into meetings so she can chat casually with people and field any questions.


McMillan had to spend more time on compliance between fall 2013 and early 2014 since new materials had to be delivered and explained to clients in person. She had to book hundreds of meetings and hire temporary help. But since the materials came out late in the year, she was able to turn each required appointment into an annual review meeting.

System 1 in action

After going over the materials with people, McMillan reviewed their returns, portfolios and goals as she would normally. She also updated all KYC documents and reviewed people’s asset allocations, for example, “since I dramatically increased international weightings over the last year and a half.”

What if: you have a family emergency?

McMillan always introduces clients to her support staff since they’ll have to call people and run meetings during her absences.

She adds her team was tested last year when her stepmom had a heart attack. “I dropped everything,” says McMillan, but not before she notified her associates about her situation. One of them “grabbed and prepared all the files I needed for the week ahead, and put them in my mailbox, and I grabbed them on my way to the airport.”

McMillan was then able to work on client files during downtime at the hospital. She also made sure clients knew about her absence since she wasn’t always available to answer her team’s questions.

Still, she reconnected with people when she returned to the office. “I always make sure I give the personal touch after missed meetings or calls to say, ‘I saw the notes that were made and we’re on the right track, and thanks for your understanding.’ We’ve all had personal stuff happen, so people will be empathetic,” says McMillan.

System 1 in action