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The value and volume of information you receive about new products, trends, rules and regulations isn’t lost on industry insiders like Kirk McMillan. As a Regional Vice-President of Wealth Sales at Sun Life Financial, McMillan and his team work closely with advisors to help them grow and succeed in their practices.

“Advisors need information to stay informed and make sound decisions on portfolio management, asset allocation, tax efficiency and a host of other financial matters for their clients,” says McMillan.

But there’s a risk of information overload.

“The reality is that advisors are overwhelmed with the number of emails and information they receive in a day from companies, their own firms and the industry, in general. The time it takes to filter through things, ensure accuracy as well as relevance to their clients and their practice, can be a real challenge.”

So what’s a time-strapped, info-inundated advisor to do?

“There are some excellent resources out there; make the most of them,” urges McMillan, whose top 5 picks are as follows.

1. Professional networks

A network of people who answer questions, provide insight and offer support on financial matters – accountants, lawyers, tax consultants – can be a valuable resource for advisors.

“Building a professional network takes time but it’s worth the effort. You need to reach out to different people to find who’ll work well with you and, most importantly, your clients,” says McMillan. “There are many capable accountants and lawyers, but are they the right fit for your practice? Through conversations and meetings, you’ll soon find out.”

He also encourages advisors to align themselves with financial companies that provide superior support.

“For example, at Sun Life our value-adds include access to a specialized team called Directors of Advanced Planning who work with advisors to present customized plans for their clients’ unique needs – they’re among the best in the industry. We also have Business Development Managers who deliver presentations on practice management, CRM21 and a host of other topics to help you grow your practice.”

2. Solution-oriented marketing and educational materials

These can be one-page product information sheets, timely pieces about CRM2 and how to have conversations with clients, estate planning basics, advisor guides, continuing education (CE) courses, case studies and more.

“Resources that help you understand products and the industry, and make it easy for you to effectively position solutions and solve client problems are incredibly valuable,” says McMillan.

3. Planning software

Technology has had a huge effect on the financial services industry, resulting in a wide range of planning software for advisors to choose from. McMillan’s favourites include NaviPlan and PlanPlus.

“Both are great planning tools to use with clients, handling everything from the very simple to the very complex. As we transition to post-CRM2 implementation, the focus on planning and the value that you bring to your clients will only become more important in your practice. Both these tools help illustrate where clients are, where they want to go and how they will get there,” he explains.

Also worth exploring is Globe Advisor ProStation, to compare funds and asset allocation.

4. Social media

LinkedIn and Twitter offer plenty of information about practice management, planning, market trends and more. But McMillan is particular about who he follows.

“I’ve selected certain companies to follow their ‘house’ view and market commentary, as well as a number of economists who regularly share data to explain market trends and other industry data.”

For advisors, he also recommends following the companies they do business with for easy access to recent research or topical ideas to start conversations with clients. And through major market events, he believes Twitter’s minute-by-minute updates help keep you informed about how economists and companies are reacting.

But a woman outliving her husband is only part of the equation. Let’s delve a little deeper into the opportunity for connecting with female investors and why it’s important — to you and them.

Need some newsworthy resources? Consider:

5. Industry events

Some industry events are more worthwhile than others. For advisors, McMillan’s a fan of conferences about product solutions, practice management, or tax and estate planning, hosted by companies they do business with. “These can be great events – very informative and relevant to your practice.”

He also recommends:

  • workshops and events hosted by the Knowledge Bureau, including its Distinguished Advisor Conference.
  • Advocis regional meetings and the annual Advocis Regulatory Affairs Symposium. “Advocis is often thought of as an insurance-focused organization but, in fact, it’s both insurance and wealth management. It offers many excellent wealth-focused events.”

Final tips

To better manage incoming information, McMillan offers these final tips:

  • Be disciplined. You need information to do your work but it can be distracting. Set time aside each day to keep informed and be selective about what you review, making sure it’s credible and relevant to you and your practice.
  • Cut through the clutter by signing up for e-newsletters from your favourite sites. These bring the news into your inbox without having to go search for it and getting distracted.

Did you know?

We really are living in an age of information overload. Google estimates that there are 300 exabytes (300 followed by 18 zeros) of human-made information in the world today. Only 4 years ago there were just 30 exabytes. We’ve created more information in the past few years than in all of human history before us. On average, we take in 5 times as much information every day as we did in 1986 – the equivalent of 175 newspapers. YouTube uploads 6,000 hours of new video every hour. For every hour of YouTube videos you watch, you’re already 5,999 hours behind!”

Excerpt from a 2015 interview with Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, McGill University neuroscientist and author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Click here to contact your Sun Life sales director.

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