I attended our broker-dealer’s (LPL Financial) annual conference in San Diego last month, along with 5,999 of my closest friends in the business. I make it a priority to attend these conferences for a few reasons. : (1) they are chock-full of best practices and great implementable ideas, (2) you get the chance to network with other advisors from around the country who are rocking it, and (3) LPL secures great key-note speakers. Last year the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, spoke, and this year it was the actor/producer/rapper/songwriter/entertainer/comedian/businessman Will Smith.
As I sat in the audience, listening to Will speak (I’m pretty sure he would be cool with me calling him Will…I’ve “known” him since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, after all), through the humor and inspiring stories, it struck me that Will would have been a top advisor in the industry, and here’s why :
Attitude of Service. Multiple times, Will said things like : “My perspective is always service to others” and “I will take on projects if I think they will improve lives”. He said his goal of making people’s lives better was his “North Star”. Those of us who have been in the business for a while know from experience that one of the main reasons clients hire and fire advisors is directly related to the good or bad service they receive. We also know that those advisors who put their clients’ interests before their own are the most successful in the long-run. It’s why I am proud to be an independent advisor, and why I am very excited that independent advisors are expected to manage more assets for clients than “wire house” advisors by 2019, according to Cerulli. I expect this gap will grow as more time goes on, and as consumers gain more insight into how our industry works.
Work Ethic. Will said, “I am not the smartest or sexiest actor, but I will work harder than anyone”. First of all, Will, if you’re reading this, you are brilliant and quite sexy! So now that we’ve gotten that settled, as it relates to our industry, you don’t have to be the smartest tool in the shed to be the most successful. You have to have integrity, an attitude of service (see above) and you have to work hard. Really hard. For a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t be dumb, but I would put my money on a hard-working advisor with an average IQ vs. a brilliant, lazy one - any day.
Resilience. Will shared so many great quotes that day, but probably my favorite was “Don’t let your successes go to your head, or your failures go to your heart” (he credited the second Aunt Viv from The Fresh Prince for this gem). In the financial services business, like in any business, you can have a great year followed by a really challenging one (or two, or three…), but just like in the good years it’s important to not let that go to your head, so too is it important to not let the challenging years steal your mojo.
Mindfulness. I have been on a spiritual journey, and began meditating about five years ago, and when I heard Will say “I keep my mind and mindfulness in this space”, I almost ran up to the stage to give him a fist pump (but then I realized I probably would have been escorted out by security, which would not have been good). There have been studies on the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness on investors’ behaviors and subsequent portfolio returns, and suffice it to say the more mindful you are (ie. you don’t freak out and sell when the market goes down), the better chances you have of experiencing good returns in the long-run. Considered the most successful hedge fund manager of all time, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates credits his success to one thing : his meditation practice.
Laying the Bricks aka Planting the Seeds. Will shared a story about working with his brother one summer in his family’s ice business in Philadelphia. After a large part of a wall in their warehouse was ruined, they were tasked with rebuilding it brick-by-brick, every day until it was done. At the beginning of the summer, Will thought there was NO way they were going to be able to build this wall back. He even mentioned such a thing to his father, but he was told quickly that he didn’t have a choice. By a couple months into the school year (yes, they worked the entire summer and after school to get this wall done), they had completed it. Wil said, “I didn’t focus on the whole, overwhelming wall. I just showed up every day with the goal of laying the most perfect brick I could….and I knew that eventually, we would have our wall”. It’s like when you’re a rookie advisor, and your goal is to become a million-dollar producer. If you focus on the million-dollar goal, it is incredibly overwhelming. If, however, you show up every day with energy, passion, and a commitment to do your best for each and every client (planting the seeds), chances are you will achieve great success and reap the rewards.
So as you can see, if Will ever wants to make a career change, I know just the career for him. And as a matter of fact, we are hiring! (www.curoprivatewealth.com)