Time-saving tip: How to develop a first-rate filing system

By Joanne Ferguson | October 6, 2004 | Last updated on October 6, 2004
2 min read

(October 2004) Being on the frontlines, training and coaching advisors and their teams across the country, I am not surprised that the ADVISOR Group’s recent Annual Dollars & Sense Survey found that the number one day-to-day challenge faced by advisors is “paperwork/administrative.”

The paperwork/administrative challenge is probably unavoidable due to today’s environment of increased compliance and regulation in the industry. Because of this environment and the extra demands it places on you as an advisor, it is more crucial than ever to find ways to keep yourself organized and efficient. Being organized helps you save valuable time that could be better spent servicing clients or building your book of business.

Here is one best practice you can implement today to become better organized:

Developing a filing system

When looking through your files (whether client files, research files or personal desk files), ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why have I/team been keeping this?
  • How am I/team going to use this?
  • Is it still relevant?
  • How many of these do I/team need?
  • If I am not keeping this will someone else find it useful?
  • If I get rid of this will I/team need it again?
More third Annual Dollars & Sense Survey coverage
• How do you compare? (An interactive survey) • Paper tigers: How six advisors turned administrative challenge into competitive advantage • Time-saving tip: How to develop a first-rate filing system • Eight tips to ensure more insurance sales • Cyber support: More online resources to better your practice
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Quick tips on client files

1. Move client files to a central location for easy team access.

2. Organize client files by colour coding — for example, GREEN is all documentation, BLUE is proposals, financial plans or investment policy statements, YELLOW is insurance contracts and PINK is prospect files. Or divide a single file folder — documentation is section one, proposals section two, financial plans section three, IPS section four, notes section five, etc.

3. Decide what you will keep in client files. Files may include:

  • Recommendations made to clients.
  • Contact management system notes.
  • Letters sent to clients.

4. It is a good practice to keep insurance contracts in a separate file folder, because of the sensitivity of the information.

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The third Annual Dollars & Sense Survey was conducted among a representative sample of 3,034 of Canada’s financial advisors between June 21 and August 2, 2004. The margin of error for a project this size is plus or minus 1.7%, 19 times out of 20. For half-sample questions the margin of error is plus or minus 2.4%, 19 times out of 20. A 12% response rate was obtained.

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Joanne Ferguson is a partner with Ontario-based Advisor Pathways, a company that offers consulting and coaching help to advisors and their firms across Canada. Joanne can be reached at jferguson@advisorpathways.com or through her company’s Web site at www.advisorpathways.com.

This story is part of Advisor.ca’s third Annual Dollars & Sense Survey special report sponsored by:


Joanne Ferguson