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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Top 10 attributes of ‘elite’ retirement advisors

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Editor’s note: 3ethos CEO Don Trone’s presentation at the Center for Due Diligence 2014 conference. Click here for the full conference schedule

To come out ahead in the retirement business today, there are 10 attributes that advisors and service providers need to demonstrate. These same attributes are associated with leadership, stewardship and are critical to an ethical decision-making framework.

So says Don Trone, founder and CEO of 3ethos, a Mystic, Connecticut leadership consultancy. Trone has co-written a book on leadership with Mary Lou Wattman, “LeaderMetrics: What key decision-makers need to know when serving in a critical leadership role.”

“Everybody wants to be regarded as a great leader,” says Trone, “and everyone wants to be regarded as a great steward.” 

Here, then, are Trone’s and Wattman’s thoughts on the 10 attributes that “elite” advisors will want to exhibit. 

1. Aligned

Great leaders and stewards understand that a mission needs to be aligned with a defined purpose and be consistent with stated principles and values. Goals and objectives have to be aligned with the interests of customers, employees and other stakeholders — not just shareholders. And, defined goals and objectives need to reflect current opportunities, challenges, rules, regulations and market conditions.” 

2. Attentive

“Great leaders and stewards notice everything, genuinely want to connect deeply with people, and give their undivided attention in an effort to understand others … a leader must be a great listener, observer and empathizer. … There is no understanding and comprehension without empathy. It is the capacity to see and understand the experience, ideas and values of others.” 

3. Agile

“Great leaders and stewards have the capacity to balance risk with reward. They demonstrate tremendous resilience when plans go awry, oftentimes coming back stronger than before.” 


4. Adaptive

“Great leaders and stewards are comfortable engaging others with diverse opinions and views. Leaders are smart, but they don’t feel a need to demonstrate that they are the smartest person in the room.” 

5. Accepting

“Great leaders and stewards are not afraid to fail, and to use setbacks as learning experiences. They have coping skills, a high tolerance for risk, and are not afraid to pivot as new ideas and challenges are presented.” 

6. Articulate

“Great leaders and stewards have the ability to share their vision and sense of purpose, and do so with an economy of words.” 

7. Ardent

“Great leaders and stewards are persistent and determined. They never give up on their vision and are willing to withstand opposition from others. They press on while others quit. They are also positive thinkers, which contributes to their ability to look past the risks associated with a situation and see a more optimistic outcome.” 

8. Action-oriented

“Great leaders and stewards are decisive and know how to fix problems. They are willing to move forward when others still want to gather more facts. They also focus on those things which can be controlled, and don’t get hung up on missed opportunities.” 

9. Accountable

“Great leaders and stewards follow through and are responsible. They also make their followers feel safe — they make the perimeter secure. Their words and actions are consistent. They don’t ask anything from their followers that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.” 

10. Authentic

“Great leaders and stewards are genuine. What they do in public is consistent with what they do in their private life; they treat customers and clients the same way they treat staff and employees.” 

See also:

Do you deserve the title ‘sales leader’? Part 2

Do you deserve the title ‘sales leader’? Part 1

Strong leaders hire strong employees


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