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In my January 2008 column for Investment Advisor, I write about the increasing challenges of recruiting young professionals in today’s overly seller’s market. I mention that common courtesy–thank you notes, showing up for interviews on time, canceling or rescheduling appointments well before the appointment date, etc.–seems to be a thing of the past for many job applicants today: and I suggest that advisors can use this rudeness to screen out potential employees.

But I don’t think today’s young advisors realize how much damage they could be doing to their careers by exhibiting this high-handed behavior. I understand that experienced young advisors are riding high these days; job offers are pouring in, salaries are skyrocketing, and you feel as if it just can’t get any better than this.

Well, you’re right: it probably can’t get any better. But it can get worse, maybe a lot worse.

Try to remember that you’re in the financial services industry, where incredible highs and unbelievable lows aren’t just likely: they’re an absolute certainty. We just don’t know exactly when each cycle will start and end. And the people who forget this reality and overplay their hand when they are on top–the hot mutual fund companies who treat investors and advisors like it’s a privilege to get into their funds, the wholesalers who don’t return calls, the B/Ds who force out their oldest but-now-too-small reps–often come to realize too late that when their fortunes turn down (as they always do) that the ill will they created seriously jeopardizes their future.

The independent advisory community is really much smaller than you can imagine. Chances are that the people you meet today–at conferences, local chapters of national associations, and job interviews–will be among your professional acquaintances for the rest of your career. I run into or hear from people all the time that I’ve met along my brief 10 years in the industry. You may not remember how you treated people today, but I can assure you that they’ll remember, and probably tell other people. If it’s not all good, it can greatly tarnish your future prospects, no matter how bright and shiny things look today.


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