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Fitt’s Law for Financial Advisors: How to Avoid Time Waste During Client Meetings

Date: June 1, 2022

Financial advisors might not think that UX design laws have much to do with running an advisory practice but many of these principles of human behavior can help you improve client satisfaction and run a more efficient office. By applying Fitt’s Law, for example, you can find ways to improve organization and reduce the time spent searching through your computer for the information you need.

In addition to reducing the time wasted looking for the right document or that one note you jotted down somewhere months ago, applying Fitt’s Law to your practice can drastically improve client satisfaction. A financial advisor that isn’t wasting time searching through their computer can spend less time on file prep before and between meetings. Keep reading for a definition of Fitt’s Law and some tips for applying it to your practice.

What Is Fitt’s Law?

Fitt’s Law is a principle that guides how UX designers build web pages that are easy and efficient to navigate for users. This principle is based on the research of Paul Fitts, a psychologist who studied the human motor system. What this psychologist found is that the smaller the target and the faster the movement, the higher the chances of error. 

In other words, if you’re frantically scrambling to find a single tax return on a computer with thousands of files on its hard drive while a client is impatiently waiting to get on with the meeting, the chances of not being able to find it or taking far longer than necessary to do so are high. 

In UX design, this means that buttons or other clickable objects should be large and spaced far enough apart that a user can easily find what they want to click on and avoid accidentally clicking on the wrong thing.

In an advisory practice, it has more to do with how to organize your files and notes in a way that reduces time spent looking for the right document. Here’s what I mean:

How to Apply Fitt’s Law to Your Financial Advisory Practice

In a client meeting, the more time it takes you to pull up the right document or find the right piece of information in the notes and files from your last meeting, the less time you have for actually going over those documents or discussing that topic with your client. Fumbling around to find the right file or notes can also make you look disorganized to your clients. Naturally, many times, you just will push this off for after the meeting (to avoid this bad look) - this just ends up creating more work for you later!

Using Fitt’s Law to develop an organization system that allows you to have instant access to the documents you need during a meeting will reduce the time spent searching for what you need and reassure your client that you’re organized and on top of things.

So, how can you apply this UX principle to your organization? Here are some tips to get started:

Make Your Meeting Notes Easier to Search

If you promised a client that you’d go over their previous tax returns at the next meeting, you need to make note of that. Do you have a system for keeping those details organized and ensuring that you don’t forget that information before the next meeting rolls around?

How much time do you currently spend reviewing old notes to figure out what needs to be covered in the next meeting? If the answer to that is more than a few seconds, you need to examine how you organize your meeting notes.

With the right process and the right tools in place, finding the information you need in your notes should only take about two seconds. Using Pulse360, for example, all your notes for a particular client are compiled in one place. Then, you can add tags — like “next meeting” — to specific pieces of information in those notes so that when you’re reviewing notes later, you can automatically generate a meeting agenda populated with all those discussion points tagged with “next meeting.” Finally, if you need to find a piece of information during a meeting, you can use filters to quickly locate the important information.

Keep All Meeting-Related Information in One Place

Even without Pulse360, you can make your meeting notes easier to search by implementing a better note taking system in your office. Strategies like using the same note-taking template across all meetings will make it easier to know where certain information will be located, for example.

Keeping all your meeting notes and meeting-related information in one file also cuts down on the time fumbling from folder to folder on your computer in search of the document or information you need during that meeting.

Keep Client Documents Organized

A super organized file folder system is an important part of cutting down on time spent hunting down the documents you need during a meeting. An organization system that is consistent and easy to search ensures that you know exactly where to go and what to look for. 

Again, an automation tool like Pulse360 can help here. Instead of searching through your files on your computer while your client watches and waits, Pulse360 makes it easy to instantly pull up the document you need. 

Create Meeting Agendas

At the XY Planning Network (XYPN) conference last year, Michael Kitces, a financial planning expert and the mind behind Kitces financial planning education website, discussed the importance of meeting prep, agendas, and documentation but also acknowledged that the time it took made it difficult to do on a regular basis. 

“The number one thing that most of us spend the most time on that we really shouldn’t be spending so much time on is the meeting notes and follow up and the prep that goes along with it,” Kitces said at XYPN 2021. 

“For most advisors, we spend more than one hour in prep and follow up for every one hour we spend in meetings.” So sending an agenda ahead of the meeting usually gets cut because there simply isn’t time for it. 

That’s why Kitces is so excited about the potential of Pulse360. By “automating and templating all of these pieces around meeting agendas,” Kitces argues, the software cuts down the time spent on meeting prep and notes so much that you actually have time to send agendas. 

“Relative to the cost of Pulse360, you need to save like three minutes a week or something to actually make this a good ROI on your time and it’s going to save you a lot more than three minutes a week.”

Whichever strategies or tools you choose to implement, the key is clear, easy-to-search organization systems that cut down the time it takes to find what you’re looking for. Automation and note taking tools can speed up the process even further so that you can instantly access exactly what you need without having to search at all.

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