In this series, I am going to lay out the seven strategies I believe are both necessary and sufficient for success in this industry. There is a “best way” to deploy these strategies. Many of these best ways (Good ways?) are written up in my Research articles and white papers. I have reviewed many and posted them, free as always, here: www.billgood.com/bestpractices. As the series of articles progresses, the best practices library will grow.
I did a survey once to see if I could identify “the only secret to spectacular success.”
What was the “secret”? I got 1,200 replies to my survey and spent many hours tweaking my survey-crunching software. My primary methodology was to compare survey responses of the top 20% and bottom 20%. I excluded anyone not in the business at least three years.
No matter how I twisted and turned my tabulation parameters, no “one thing” jumped out of the mass of accumulated data and announced: “I’m it!”
But nagging voices kept whispering, “Keep looking. It’s there.”
And it was. When it eased out of its hiding place, it was apparent that the people who made it to the end of the rainbow had done more of the “right things.” In some cases, they were also spectacularly better at one thing.
That survey led me to a strategy that I believe is a path, if not the path, to the success you seek: Implement more best practices.
There you have it. Thank you very much. Goodbye. Good luck.
OK, OK, let’s take a closer look.
In my experience, you have to be good to great in seven areas. Let’s call these areas “success strategies.”
Each strategy area has its own best practices. Fail in one of these strategies and success is mediocre at best. Fail at two or more and, well, I don’t see how you can stay in business.
Before digging into these success strategies, let me point to some very important, if not vital, factors not covered. The reason I’m not covering these is that you either have these or you don’t. I’m not convinced these can be taught. Let’s call these personality factors.
Among these are: engaging personality, burning ambition, smarts, integrity and ability to sell. If you have this ability to sell, you can improve your persuasive skills. But there is an X-factor, an ability to persuade someone to do what they might not have otherwise done. Missing that, all the sales courses in the world do not seem to help.
With these personality factors set aside, here are the success strategies.
Manage Sales Pipeline.
Control Time Allocation.
Present Ideas Persuasively.
Become or Remain Sole Provider for All Clients Who Follow Advice.
Delegate All or Most Non-Sales/Non-Advice Functions.
Obviously, you need an investment strategy. Google the phrase “types of investment strategy” and you will get 202 million hits in 0.24 seconds. This vast number of alternatives does not mean none are right. One is right—for you. But you have to find it.
Probably 50% of your career success will depend on being able to invest wisely. Most likely, your early strategy must involve use of third party managers. By learning to hire experts, you can then sell their expertise. Assuming you hire the right experts, you buy yourself time to master the craft yourself.
One FA I know honed his skill by interviewing hundreds of money managers. He just called them, talked his way through the screener and convinced these managers to explain their methods. He then cherry-picked tools and ideas and added those to his own kit. Today, he’s a very good money manager himself, personally managing a portfolio of over $1 billion.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes that success in any field requires an enormous amount of time. He called it the 10,000-hour rule. Spend 20 hours a week at a task for 10 years. Success is yours. Yes, you do have 20 hours a week for the next 10 years to do this. But you can also starve to death by only focusing on investment strategy.
Success requires the other success strategies.