Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be a financial advisor? The money, the exotic “award” vacations and the freedom of running your own business are just a few of the reasons many are drawn to the career. It’s one of those jobs that outsiders look at and say, “Hey, I could do that!” What I think they’re really saying is, “Hey, I could drive an expensive car and enjoy a lot of bling too.”
Having been a wholesaler in a former life, I still remain friends with many of the old guard financial road warriors. At a recent gathering, one longtime wholesaler buddy of mine told me he was getting off the road. “I’m going to be a rep,” he confided. “If all those idiots I deal with every day can be successful, I should be a superstar!”
As I gave him my forced congratulations, I couldn’t help but think, “Uh, oh.” It’s not that that I didn’t think he could do it. I just thought he would lose his mind in the process. What my buddy wasn’t thinking about was how lonely the job can be.
Here’s a guy who, as a wholesaler, was never in an office for more than an hour at a time, and now he’s going to sit in an office all day long? Who’s buying him lunch every day? When I pointed this out to him, he said I was nuts. “There will be people around.” he said defensively.
He went on to inform me his office assistant would be there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (after 10). The retiring rep he bought the business from was sure to be around as well. “Wow, I don’t know how you’re going to get any work done with all the inevitable co-worker fraternization,” I replied.
Another member of our group worked for a broker-dealer. He chimed in and told us about one of his co-workers who had just left the friendly confines of the home office, to take a shot at the big leagues. “The guy calls us all the time. There’s no one around for him to talk to. I feel bad for the guy.” he said. “I just wish he’d call somebody else.”
The next morning, as I was piecing together the conversation of the night before, I thought back to my days as a financial advisor in a tiny Ohio town. I finally understood why I went to lunch to with any wholesaler who would drive down Route 67. I am secure enough in my manhood to admit, 20 plus years later, I had no idea what any of them were talking about. It just beat sitting around the office all day by myself.
The problem, for me, was after I did all the busy work I could think of, the job got tough. Eventually, no matter how hard I tried to avoid it, it would be just me all alone with my thoughts. Have you been there?
You say to yourself, “Oh boy, what do I do now? I guess I could call some people and try to sell something. Wait, I wonder what my brother is doing? I should call him …” and on and on it goes. There is no one to stick his or her head in and say, “Get to work dummy! You’ve got bills to pay!”
One of the toughest parts about being an independent advisor is being able to manage your own time. It’s about keeping distractions at bay while you attend to the important business at hand, earning commissions, awards trips and the bling.
I’m sure my friend will do fine. For me, it was too much. At least that’s what I thought.