From the March 2013 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Digging Potatoes

Right before I graduated from college, I had a meeting with one of the school’s career counselors, Mr. Snooks. He was an older man who shook my hand harder than it had ever been shook. If I’d been wearing a ring, I most likely would have cried.

With my hand still throbbing, he sat down and asked, “So, what do you want to do with your life, kid?”

Being young and stupid, I told him what I was really thinking, “Sir, I want to become a game show host.”

As I waited for Mr. Snooks’ jaw to drop, he threw me a curve: “Son, that’s terrific. You’re going to have to move to California, you know. Not many game shows here in Macomb.”

It was now my jaw that dropped. I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. I hadn’t thought about moving far, far away from all my friends, family and favorite tavern. Mr. Snooks sensed an opening, “Mr. Miller, if you’re serious about this game show thing, you’re going to have to dig where the potatoes are.”

I got it. “Hmm, this guy might actually have a point,” I remember thinking.

For some reason, that hokey old “dig where the potatoes are” thing has been cemented into my cerebellum. Just the other day, it reared its ugly potato head once again. 

While putting in the countless hours of thankless research that go into this column, I happened to come across an article that listed the top 10 states with the most millionaires, per capita. It also compared their present ranking in millionaires to each of the past six years.

While analyzing the data, I couldn’t help but say to myself, “These are the states where the potatoes are.” 

As financial advisors, it is imperative that you dig where the potatoes are. So, if your practice is floundering and twisting in the wind, you’ll want to keep reading. 

Of the 10 states listed, there was one that stood out. It is the holy grail of potato fields. It’s the state with the fastest growing percentage of millionaires. So many that six years ago, it was ranked only 14th. Last year it ranked sixth. Every other “top 10” state changed rank by just one or two positions over the same period. 

What does this mean to the starving new financial advisor? I know what Mr. Snooks would tell him: “If you’re serous about this financial advisor thing, you’d better dig where the potatoes are.” In other words, start packing the minivan.

Hang on. Before you pull out of the driveway, you’re going to need some supplies. The first thing you’ll need to bring is insulated long underwear. Sometimes it’s a little chilly there. (Suck it up; it’s your career we’re talking about here.)

You’ll also want to bring flashlights and plenty of batteries. In certain times of the year the sun is only up for an hour or so. (Don’t have to worry about sunscreen!) 

Finally, you’ll want to be packing some heat. It’s the only state on the list that has a number of native animals that can kill you in your own backyard (Have you ever tasted moose?).

Once you’re properly supplied, aim north and keep driving … and driving … and driving. You’ll know you’re about there when you see a film crew for Ice Road Truckers.

Have you guessed the state? If you haven’t, you really should think about another career. 

The potato field I’m talking about is the great state of Alaska. For financial advisors looking for the next big gold rush, Alaska could be it. 

One long time Alaska advisor talked about the loyalty of his clients, “I learned a long time ago, if you help someone gut his elk, you’ll have a client for life.” 

I think we’d all agree . Words to live by. Happy digging!

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