As you may know, I’m sympathetic to the challenges facing young professionals in the independent advisory community, in no small part because I’m a young professional, myself (although having just turned 30, I don’t feel quite so young as I used to). As a young consultant to mostly older, successful financial advisors, believe me, I’ve faced more than my share of challenges. Yet I’ve come to realize that we often make things harder for ourselves than they have to be, and that’s at least one problem we can do something about.

Credibility is a perfect example: Older people tend to think that younger people don’t know very much about, well, very much. And being a blond woman doesn’t seem to help much, either. For years, my response was probably much the same as yours: it’s not fair and not right that people don’t see me for who I am, and what I have to offer. I sure has heck am not going to change who I am because other people are prejudiced and dumb.

But a few years ago, a mentor suggested to me that maybe I was the one who was being dumb–that acting like a victim was actually hurting my career. For one thing, think about the folks you went to college with, or were in your CFP program: to how many of them would you turn over millions of dollars of client assets? Not to many, I’ll bet. But we’re different, right? Hopefully, we are. But how is an older advisor going to know that?

Point is, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to look and act like you’re serious. Is it your right to look like a goth? Sure, but that’s not going to help anyone believe you know anything about financial advice. Even more important is how you speak and act. If you, well, um, don’t really, you know, like totally get to the point, dude, who’s going to put you in front of their clients?