Acentury ago the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto compared data on wealth from different times and places and graphed the results on paper. Expecting to see wealth distributed on some sort of bell curve, he was astonished see a very lopsided pattern that was thin at the top and fat at the bottom. He found, for example, that some 80 percent of the property in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the people. More remarkably, he found that 20 percent of the pea pods in his garden contained some 80 percent of the peas. Thus was born the Pareto Principle, sometimes known as the 80-20 rule.
Many are the patterns that conform to this principle. For example, in the financial advisory industry, it is commonly found that 80 percent of an advisor’s assets are controlled by 20 percent of his or her clientele, leading many advisors to concentrate their attention on that fabulous fifth. While this principle may have empirical validity, it is only a statistic, which by definition characterizes an abstract population. When someone becomes a “statistic,” he becomes nameless. But how do you make a name for yourself and get into that 20 percent?
This month’s cover story (“Weapons of Mass Instruction”) may shine a light on that. The article features an intensive training program that broker-dealer Raymond James has made available to advisors like Frank Pickett of Upland, Calif. When he started with Raymond James 5 ½ years ago, he was managing $18 million. After three years of coaching, that number is up to $75 million. Or, take John Vance of Valencia, Calif., who managed $10 million in assets when he joined the firm in 2003. Intensive coaching has helped him increase that figure more than tenfold to $105 million. Zack Hayes of San Jose close to doubled his production in just two years and Ross Marino, whose goal it was to reduce his hours on the job, cut the time managing his book by over 50 percent without impacting revenue.