If you want to be successful in this market, it doesn’t hurt to have some good role models. True professionals who have reached elite levels and done things the right way would be ideal in this capacity, don’t you think?

In this issue, you have the opportunity to learn from five of the industry’s best and brightest in the form of the finalists for Senior Market Advisor‘s 2007 Advisor of the Year award.

This month’s cover article, beginning on page 76, provides insight into how each finalist has created a thriving practice, built on client-first approaches and rock-solid ethics. They are innovative marketers, and all have shown a willingness to share the secrets of their success with those advisors who aspire to develop into super producers.

This brings me to the subject of mentoring, which is something I just didn’t hear much about before I became submerged in the inner workings of senior market financial services.

Now I hear about the benefits of mentoring and coaching on a regular basis, and am continually impressed with how good this industry is about encouraging very productive and structured mentor relationships.

If you have a coach or mentor – and judging by the advisors I have met, chances are you do – how fortunate are you to have someone who has already proven himself who is willing to share the knowledge he spent years to acquire?

A good mentor can be at least as valuable to the success of your practice as your formal education. Here you have someone who takes a personal interest in your professional development and will listen to your specific problems, and then offer guidance on how you can overcome those problems to reach a higher level of success than would likely be possible on your own. Try getting that from a book or a class.

Mentors can be great shortcuts to success, but you still need to make sure they lead you down the high road. Part of the process should include reinforcing the all-around benefits of running a completely ethical practice.

Perhaps your practice has reached an enviable level of success. If you are not already serving as a mentor to a less-experienced colleague, what’s keeping you? In this age of the independent advisor who may not have “paid dues” as a captive agent, many are in dire need of guidance. Seek them out and get them headed in the right direction.

And if you are in the midst of reaching the industry’s upper echelon, make sure you get yourself nominated for Advisor of the Year in 2008. Perhaps next year, everyone will be reading about you.