Why Do Financial Advisors Have the Wrong Focus for Success?

Why Do Financial Advisors Have the Wrong Focus for Success?

I have likely interacted with 30,000 financial advisors over the last 25 years either on the phone, via email, at trade shows, at conferences and at webinars.  There is one issue that continues to astound me. Most advisors still focus on externalities–what to say when they call a prospect, how to do seminars, a good lead system, how to get more referrals, etc.  Most miss the fact that this focus lacks the leverage of focusing within.  To say it simply—advisors place their attention on content (tactics) rather than context (themselves). 

Like athletes, advisors are the engine of their success.  However, athletes all have the good sense to get continuous coaching, video themselves for analysis and consult with psychologists to master their self-talk.  It is conventional wisdom that in the sports world, talent and skills among competitors are near equal and the differentiator of success is "heart" or "character" in the thick of battle.  In the sports world, no one questions that self-mastery is the key success factor (not to say that practice and discipline are not pre-requisites). 

Yet in the lone-ranger world of financial advising, participants go about their business almost dense to the required focus to win the game.  Why is that?  Is it because the threshold to become a financial advisor is almost non-existent (passing the series 7 exam, truth be told, can be done by an intelligent 6th-grader).  While to make it in sports, even to be the high school football champion, requires significant effort and overcoming fierce competition?

So instead of doing the hard work, the inner work, advisors simply wash out (last statistic I saw reported that 85% of advisors are gone from the business after 4 years).  Is this the near-sighted fault of their employers who push them to focus on the activities such as number of calls and appointments and also overlook the leverage for high performance?

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."  I say for a financial advisor who is the engine of their business, to ignore a primary focus on self-mastery, examining their own self-talk, beliefs, attitudes and biases, is a guarantee of mediocrity, if not failure.

Years ago, I informally polled financial advisors as to who had taken formal sales training.  By formal sales training, I mean a multi-week endeavor such as Dale Carnegie or Sandler.   Last I checked, the industry provides lots of product training but no sales training.  Less than 20% had ever had sales training. Is it not amazing that people who earn their living based on their communication skill, their sales skill, have never bothered to even attempt to master that skill?

Is it me, or is this picture also strange to others? 


Larry Klein is a well-known marketing systems developer and industry speaker.  You can keep up to date on his observations and advice for performance at his blog, Wealthy Producer.

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