After decades of experience working with and getting to know thousands of people whose job it is to give advice around insurance, investments and real estate, I’ve observed a few traits that I personally believe are critical to long-term relevance. Frankly, I also believe they will make certain advisors immune to the threat of their job being eaten by technology.
(Related: A closer look at the future of insurance)
There is quite a bit of concern and discussion over robo advice threatening these livelihoods. We must consider that the underlying reason is a trust problem with those who make their living both giving advice and selling products for a commission. I am not convinced that it is the presence of these two characteristics that causes mistrust. Rather, it may be the absence of one or more of the following five characteristics of advisors that are more important in the trust equation:
1. They seek to help their community first then benefit from it later.
There’s a not-so-subtle distinction between people who join a community group because they want to network for business purposes and people who join because they are interested in helping advance the mission of that group. While oftentimes both motivations can exist at the same time, the real test would be to ask those people if they would have either joined or stayed with that group even if their prospecting need were not there.
While those inside the business may not see the distinction, others can see it a mile away. Trust erodes when intentions are not clear.
2. They see work and life as inextricably intertwined and are in love with both.
Nondisruptable advisors are people who always seems to be there for what’s most important, whether the market is crashing, an individual lost his/her job, or someone’s kid or grandkid is in a little league game. From the outside, it may look like those advisors are either always working or never working. And the answer would be yes.
3. They keep score based on outcome versus income.
While earnings and sales numbers are important for a successful practice, putting numbers on the board is not what makes nondisruptable advisors sleep well at night. Rather, they create metrics of their own, consciously or unconsciously, counting things like how many people they have advised, how many thank you letters they receive, how many people they’ve helped employ, or even how many hugs they have ever received from their clients. Counting these means they never need to count sheep.