Published by Mark Ring, Managing Partner, Founding Partner and Wealth Advisor
Financial advisors often find themselves challenged with the question of what type of advisor they wish to be. I know I’ve experienced this over the course of my career. It usually happens when you come to the point where your career needs to evolve to a more established stage. You grow as a person and your practice does too. But sometimes it takes effort to coordinate your personal values with your career values.
This is a process we all go through, but knowing what to expect can make it easier to navigate. Here’s how I overcame the “Great Advisor Bottleneck” and the steps you can take in your own career to make sure your values always align with your work.
The Early Years
In the early years of your career, you probably have your nose to the grindstone, working hard to establish yourself and make a mark in the industry. You are just trying to make it happen for yourself.
At this stage, you don’t really have much time to self-reflect—and you probably can’t afford to self-reflect either. You’re just trying to stay afloat and make it to that point where you can say you succeeded.
Growing Your Practice
As you grow professionally and as a person, however, you do start to reflect and question who you are and who you wish to be. This involves reflecting on the type of relationships you wish to have with your clients. I believe this is a natural and healthy part of the process of evolving as an advisor.
How you started in your career and the process for building your initial book of business may not be the appropriate process for you to continue growing. I believe that your professional structure should grow and change as you do, paralleling your personal belief system and core values.
I have learned that the type of advisor you want to be, your professional self and your personal self, don’t have to be in conflict. They should not exist separately. Instead, becoming a great advisor often involves creating a cohesive self that aligns your most important personal values with the relationships and processes you build at work.
Understand Your Core Values
If you find yourself feeling like your professional self and your personal self don’t align, you may want to ask yourself if you are applying your core values in a balanced fashion. We all have core values; some of us have taken time to define them while others haven’t.
This isn’t inherently right or wrong, but taking the time to identify and clarify what you believe will help you grow your practice in a meaningful way. Once your eyes have been opened to what matters most to you, both personally and professionally, you will never want to go back to the way you structured your career before this realization.
The Professional Bottleneck
Sometimes this process, this growth, this clarity, can end up leading to what I call a “professional bottleneck.” You realize you are not where you wish to be, you know you want to make changes, but you just don’t know how to get past the bottleneck.
Below are some of the common bottleneck thoughts I’ve discovered through my own journey. If you find yourself thinking any of these things, you might be in the middle of a professional bottleneck:
- I just don’t know where to start!
- I don’t know what I want, but I know it’s not what I have!
- I’m just too busy to make any changes.
- What if I lose clients?
- It takes too much work, energy, and time to make a change.
- What if I lose income?
- What if I lose control of my career?
- What if what I’m doing now is not the best for my clients or myself?
- Making a change isn’t worth it because all professional processes are the same!
- Aligning your professional and personal selves doesn’t actually happen in reality!
Overcoming the Bottleneck
These thoughts are overwhelming, but they are almost always coming from a place of fear. Here’s what I suggest. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel all at once, keep it simple and start small.
First define your core values. This can be a big task for most people as it takes time and energy. If you are open and reflective in an honest and transparent manner, your clients will respect your path and choice. You’ll find clarity to the questions above as well as others you’ve discovered yourself.
I’ve found that once you can move past the bottleneck, you’ll experience exponential growth both professionally and personally. You’ll find you have the energy, clarity, and purpose to make necessary changes that move you toward being not just a great advisor but the great human you wish to be.
This was my bottleneck experience, but I’d love to hear from you! Share your bottleneck questions and experiences by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Ring is a Managing Partner, Founding Partner and Wealth Advisor at Jacob William Advisory, a wealth management firm whose sole mission is to service their clients’ needs beyond their expectations. Mark has over 30 years of industry experience and for the past decade, he has been committed to building Jacob William Advisory into one of the foremost wealth advisory firms. Mark graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and spends his time outside of the office with his wife, Nancy, and his two wonderful children. He gives his time to numerous nonprofit organizations related to education and the arts, often serving as a board member. He enjoys playing tennis, golf, bicycling, cooking, and traveling. Learn more about Mark by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor.