When I — or any of our writers — talk to brokers, the question we get asked the most is, “How are other brokers surviving?” Obviously, it's a sign of these grinding times: After three years of a bear market, many investment advisors are wondering if it will ever get better. Some are wondering aloud whether they should think about other occupations.
So, it is a particular pleasure for me to point you to this month's cover story — Registered Rep.'s 23rd annual Outstanding Broker Award (p. 38). These are advisors who are not only surviving, but thriving. It's not that they have a secret formula — an all-purpose road map that will put any broker back on the path to big payouts. But there are some important lessons in this package. If I have to sum it up in a sentence, I'd say what these men and women have to tell you is this: When the going gets tough, the tough stick to their discipline.
That's more than a cute aphorism. It means that you have to create the approach to investment advisory that works for you and for your clients over the long term, and then you have to stick with it. Truth be told, the brokers we talk to who are worried about surviving are often the ones who have never developed a discipline. Until they do, they will always be middling advisors, always looking for someone to tell them what the next big thing is.
The survivors — and thrivers — in this business understand that it is up to them to create a practice model and work hard to make it succeed. As the profiles of our winners demonstrate, being an outstanding broker doesn't have a lot to do with style. You can be a great cold caller and build an outstanding practice. Or you can do it by developing a bedside manner that works with a certain type of client.
Whatever the M.O. they choose, outstanding brokers bring something to the game that you can, too — plain old hard work. If you're a cold-calling whiz, you know that you can spend all day making 20 calls; but if you make 300, you'll start to see some results. If you're organized and methodical, you can make the time to keep up with all your clients and provide them the kind of service that will generate referrals. If you're a specialist in a particular kind of investment, you know that you've got to always be on top your markets — and that extra call, that extra bit of research can make all the difference.
No, there's no big secret about how outstanding brokers get to be that way.
Notice that little statement below about our wanting letters to the editor? We mean it. Please, send us your thoughts about our coverage — what you like and what you don't. We can take it. But please, include your name and address. We will occasionally withhold the names of letter writers on request, but we first must verify who they are. So affix your John Hancock, and we'll get back to you if we plan to use your letter.
We thank you for your support. Drop us a line with your comments at: 249 W. 17th St., New York, N.Y. 10011-5300. Or email us, [email protected]. Publisher Rich Santos can be found at [email protected].