The industry's focus on high-net-worth clients has been a boon to many advisors, but the high energy focus required to succeed in the high-net-worth game is not always easy to sustain.
An advisor I know named Marsha admitted: “Sometimes I wonder if I still have what it takes — you know, the qualities necessary to perform consistently at a high level in today's highly competitive world.”
Marsha is no slouch. She has enjoyed a successful 17-year career as a stockbroker with production ranging between $500,000 and $850,000 over the past seven years. So why the self-doubt? I think part of the reason is that the industry's emphasis on affluent clients and wealth management has been distracting advisors from the basic principles that got them where they are in the first place.
Dr. Lecker, I Presume
It's helpful to revisit the writings of Dr. Sidney Lecker, a psychiatry professor at Yale University. Lecker conducted numerous studies relating to specific characteristics of high achievers, and even though his attention was not directed at financial professionals, his findings about the planning and performance of successful people in business and politics are applicable to our industry.
Lecker identified eight qualities that lead to high levels of achievement:
- Laser Focus
High achievers know what they want and reject any activities that might distract them from pursuing their goals. They do what needs to be done, even when they don't want to.
- Clear Vision
High achievers are big-picture people. They are able to look into that crystal ball and see things (the goal) that are not there; with the end in mind, they work toward that end one step at a time.
- Success Environment
High achievers function almost independently of what is happening around them. They develop the power of contrary thinking and create a goal-focused cocoon in a world of negativity. These people see opportunity where others see problems, and that enables them to remain focused in the midst of turmoil. They are enthusiastic, but not blind optimists.
- High Tolerance for Uncertainty
High achievers tolerate ambiguity and work, step-by-step, towards their goals in confusing situations. Because of their strong goal focus and daily discipline, these individuals are able to believe without proof — which is essential to high-level achievement.
- Winning Pace
High achievers view life as a marathon, not a sprint. This enables them to avoid burnout, hitting the wall and other serious stress-related problems. Contrary to the popular opinion, they are not workaholics; most have balance in their lives.
- Healthy Emotional State
Because these individuals are working from a master plan, they are in control of their emotions, and have empathy for others.
- Talent Network
Whether it's hiring the right people, delegating properly, networking effectively or being able to work cooperatively, high achievers know how to use the talents of other people. Using other people can be positive or negative. This group uses people positively, so the law of reciprocity is always at work.
- High Level of Communication
High achievers understand the importance of, and know how to use, the principles of communication. They are excellent communicators. This includes nonverbal, verbal and written communication. High achievers can articulate their thoughts in many ways.
As you work through this list, write out the changes you will need to make, if any, to master each of Dr. Lecker's high achievement qualities. Don't get distracted by concerns about how you might facilitate these changes. Trust that good things will happen in due time, and they will indeed.
Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.