7 Traits Successful Financial Advisors Have (That Others Don't)
NOTE: If you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you check out Your First Year As A Financial Advisor, where I reveal several things every new financial advisor ought to know.
Have you ever wondered what traits successful financial advisors have that others don’t?
I know I have.
Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to observe thousands of financial advisors over the years. Through this website…
My podcast (“Financial Advisor Marketing”)...
My monthly paper-and-ink newsletter…
And my daily emails…
I’ve been able to see the best of the best and the worst of the worst.
The good thing about being a financial advisor is that you can always learn the technical side of the business. Yet, although you can always acquire technical skills, it’s much more difficult to learn the soft skills which help you succeed.
This article isn’t meant to discourage you. In fact, I’d like it to do the complete opposite - I’d like you to uncover some traits in yourself which can help you become a successful financial advisor.
With that said, here are the traits I’ve noticed over the years…
Success rewards consistency. Working hard for a week and then slacking off isn’t going to yield amazing results. This is especially true for financial advisors because building a financial advisory firm involves consistent prospecting. If you stop prospecting for a week, you may not feel the negative effects right away but you will feel them eventually.
Superstar financial advisors know they must be disciplined in their prospecting, their marketing, their follow-up, and their client service.
Establishing a routine can help you develop the self-discipline necessary to get more clients. For example, you can develop a sleep routine. Numerous studies confirm that starving your body of sleep robs your brain of its ability to function properly.
Not sleeping enough has almost the same effect as being drunk. Losing just one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level, which leads to poor decisions and decreased productivity.
If you’re struggling with discipline in your business, I suggest creating a plan. Where do you want to go? What are your goals? Map those out and create a course of action that will help you get there. From there, you will have a clear set of steps to take.
In my own life, I used to struggle getting started in the morning. Then I started planning out every day the night before. That way, when I hit my desk in the morning, all I have to do is look at my to-do list and get started.
ALSO READ: 10 Of My Favorite Productivity Tools For Financial Advisors
From what I’ve seen, the world’s best financial advisors don’t just like to win…
They NEED to win.
They have a deep, unrelenting fire burning inside of them to be the best they can be.
They refuse to accept anything less.
Even though it’s not “nice” or “popular” to talk about, they despise losing. Furthermore, they realize that this world is made up of two types of people: winners and losers. The best financial advisors make sure, come hell or high water, that they will be amongst the winners.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that financial advisors are trying to compete with other financial advisors. They’re not.
Because they’re competing with themselves.
They understand that the only person they need to beat is the one they saw in the mirror yesterday.
It’s easy to compare yourself against other people, especially in a world flooded with Instagram photos and social media updates. But when you compete against other people, you judge yourself based on their values and metrics, not yours. This means if you foolishly compete and win, you only do something important to them, not you.
When you compete with yourself, you’re essentially dismissing other people’s measures of success and embracing your own. This is a vital step toward success in life. You might find yourself pursuing something that would seem crazy to someone else, but it doesn’t matter anymore - you aren’t at the mercy of what they think of you.
“I look in the mirror, my only opponent.” - Jay-Z
ALSO READ: 7 Ways To Make Your Financial Planning Firm More Profitable
Conscientiousness is defined as the personality trait of being careful or diligent. It implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously.
This is incredibly important for financial advisors because they’re tasked with managing other people’s money and helping them achieve their financial goals. It’s not something you should take lightly, which is why conscientious people tend to thrive in this role.
These types of people tend to be efficient and organized as opposed to easy-going and disorderly. Their office is neat, their files are organized, and their systems are streamlined.
One of the things that continue to impress me about high-performing financial advisors is how meticulous they are. For example, they thoroughly think through their onboarding process and put themselves in their clients’ shoes. They also visualize how their prospects view them and their business and shore up anything that could hinder their performance. They also tend to make checklists and systems for every aspect of their business.
High conscientiousness means a person is responsible and reliable. Their “fatal flaw” is that they can be perfectionists and workaholics. I imagine that’s why my Peak Productivity training has done so well with successful advisors - they work so much and realize they need to work smarter instead of harder.
ALSO READ: 5 Best Niches For Financial Advisors
Resilience is about how well you’re able to roll with the punches in life. On difficult days, where other people get knocked down, you keep going. Where other people accept defeat, you spring back quickly and easily.
In my opinion, the best financial advisors are naturally resilient because they believe in themselves and the value they provide to their clients. Since they have a deep-seated belief they can make a positive impact on people’s lives, they continue prospecting in the face of rejection.
Plus, our lives are filled with disappointments. We must endure all sorts of difficulties, traumas, tragedies, and setbacks. Resilience is what allows you to surmount obstacles and achieve your goals. Resilience tests your inner strength. If you’re strong on the inside, you’ll find it easier to power through difficult periods.
ALSO READ: 10 Things I Wish All Entry Level Financial Advisors Knew
The financial services industry is constantly evolving, which means any financial advisor who wishes to rise to the top must be committed to lifelong learning. Because maintaining your core competencies while growing your practice is a never-ending pursuit.
On the flip side, mediocre financial advisors are “know-it-alls”. They learn one or two marketing strategies and think they’re “all set”. You know the type - these are the people who can’t even be bothered to read one book a year, let alone a book a month.
Have you ever heard the expression “leaders are readers”? It’s true. I view reading as an opportunity to spend time with smart people. You may not be able to have lunch with your favorite authors but you can spend as much time with them as you want by reading their material.
I’ve also noticed that many successful people will re-read the same book several times. It’s not because they didn’t understand the concepts the first time - it’s because the concepts are so important that they want to be reminded of them. They want the book to embed itself in their subconscious mind. In my own case, I’ve read Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich more than twenty times.
By the way, if you’re interested in learning how to speed read, check this out: How I Tripled My Reading Speed In Two Weeks… And Why I Think You Can Do It Too…”
This isn’t the most exciting trait but it’s priceless. And it’s admittedly the one I struggle with the most.
Building a large company takes time. People who are bound to achieve great things recognize this and they’re willing to play the long game.
In 1970, sociologist Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University wrote a book called The Unheavenly City. In that book, he described one of the most profound studies on success ever conducted. Banfield’s goal was to find out why some people became financially independent while others didn’t. He started off convinced that the answer would be found in factors such as family background, education, intelligence, or some other factor.
Yet, the answer wasn’t any of those things. Because he was shocked to find that the men and women who were the most successful in life had…
A long time perspective.
He found that successful people considered the future with every decision they made in the present. He found that the longer the period of time a person took into consideration while planning and acting, the more likely it was that person would become financially successful.
All financial advisors would be well-served to embrace this concept. When they’re planning their activities for the week, month, and year, the best financial advisors think of how their actions will impact them in the future. They also understand that not every activity will have an immediate payoff. For example, developing a great website might not have any effect today but, if done right, will play an integral role in growing your business over the long term.
Patience is also closely related to resilience because patience allows people to persist even in the face of adversity because they have the foresight to see that they will be rewarded in the future.
It’s also a beneficial trait to have when dealing with clients. If you’re easily frustrated when clients don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, try to develop patience. The more patient you are when helping your clients understand, the more likely it is that your clients will implement your recommendations.
ALSO READ: 15 Prospecting Tips For Financial Advisors
Successful financial advisors understand that they’re not infallible. On the other hand, unsuccessful financial advisors tend to be overconfident. They overestimate their skills, knowledge, and abilities.
One question that has helped me maintain a sense of humility is: “What if I’m wrong?” This is related to being curious because it allows me to think of ways I can expand my horizons and improve my thinking.
When I’m deciding whether or not to take on a financial advisor for private coaching, one of the first things I look for is a big ego. If a financial advisor starts talking about how great he or she is, their application gets rejected immediately.
Why am I so quick to reject them?
Because, in my experience, these are the people who won’t take my advice. No matter what I tell them, they will have a response as to why it won’t work or how they can do it better.
Case in point: thousands of financial advisors have benefited from my LinkedIn training.
I’ve seen it work time and time again. Yet, some financial advisors stomp their feet and cry:
I just let them whine and think they know better. I’m a servant to the humble financial advisors. The ones who realize the world is their oyster. The ones who aren’t confined by their own ego.
If you want to succeed, leave your ego at the door.
"But James, What About Extroversion?"
I can picture it now. Financial advisors emailing me asking:
“But James… what about extroversion? You have to be an extrovert if you want to be a successful financial advisor.
Not true, skippy.
One of the biggest myths circulating amongst financial advisors is that the myth that they have to be extroverts to succeed.
I remember taking a test about introversion vs. extroversion a few years ago. My result was in the middle.
I have some extroverted tendencies, as well as some introverted tendencies. For example, I love talking and hanging out with people but I don’t mind being alone either.
Either way, if you’re an introvert, you can succeed as a financial advisor. In fact, there’s a part in Your First Year As A Financial Advisor where I explain why introverts often make the best financial advisors.
You see, the financial services industry has a bit of an “extrovert” bias. Because lots of people think you need to be gregarious and extroverted to be a good financial advisor.
But the truth is that there are lots of successful introvert financial advisors… and there are lots of successful extrovert financial advisors.
Neither one is good nor bad.
Yet, there are a few traits (which introverts have in abundance) that almost always make an advisor successful.
The sad part is that most introverts don’t even realize they have these traits.
And don’t worry. If you’re an extrovert, you can model these traits. It’s just that introverts do it naturally… and do it well.
Anyway, whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, I encourage you to check this out:
Your First Year As A Financial Advisor
Alright, enough clacking at the keyboard for today. I hope this article helped you in some way. :-)