What sets you apart from other advisors? Are you all about the “doing” in your role as an advisor and less about the essence of your being?
As the sardonic writer Kurt Vonnegut once said, “you are a human being and not a human doing.”
Discovering your identity — the concept of who you are and who you choose to be — has impact on every choice and decision you make, including in knowing what your life goal is. Your identity helps you and your clients become more secure in yourself. And self-insight fosters a clearer “vision” about yourself and those you serve.
So what are the steps to achieve self-discovery for yourself and your clients?
1. Identity is a critical factor
An interesting theme is emerging from my “Identity Conversations” with industry leaders. Leaders want to run businesses that are known for more than just numbers on a balance sheet. Many have spent the past year reviewing their life journey and some have changed the direction of their organizations to reflect a more meaningful way of doing business.
Interestingly, advisors who are determined to make these changes for themselves also realize that their clients want to invest differently. Clients are also modifying their life goals to reflect a more meaningful direction.
The discovery of your identity is crucial for both your personal growth and business growth. In many cases, the identity of a business is strongly correlated to the leader’s identity. And what I find is that people’s identity may be the most critical factor affecting their economic lives.
2. Decode clients and their wants
The financial services industry is full of analytical doers. There will never be a shortage of intelligent finance people who are able to analyze the markets, not to mention all the software programs they have at their fingertips to assist them.
But what is missing – and only slowly coming to the fore – is the importance of understanding behavior. There are fewer people in finance who understand investor mindsets. The ones who can analyze and guide clients to achieve their life goals are able to focus not just on returns but also on quality of life.
So this would be the differentiator for a financial advisor: be able to decode exactly what a client wants to achieve with their money. But this can only happen when financial advisors first stop and explore their own identity.
3. Move from “doing” to “being”
Knowing and embracing who we are is the key to understanding our identity. “Doing” often means hyperactivity in our chosen careers. This often gives little to no time to understand ourselves, clouding our values, impacting relationships and causing us to behave in unacceptable ways.
Additionally, sometimes how busy we are causes us to question our life journey. This past year has caused many of us to ask, what am I doing with my life?
If you have had these aha moments, so have your clients. In fact, those I’ve been having conversations with recently have shared that it is so important to go through a self-discovery process. They said that moving from doing to being has positively affected their quality of life, and that they have been influencing and guiding their clients through a similar process.
4. Wealth management refocused
Let’s be clear, though, this has not changed the need to invest in wealth creation vehicles. What has changed is the “why” of doing it and where you are investing or re-investing. For example, there has been a renewed focus on ESG investing (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance), but that’s a story for another day.
When we know our identity, we are less likely to be influenced by unsuitable advice. We take control of our own decision-making and no longer feel powerless.
I know that’s easier said than done, but is it that difficult? When advisors know and understand their own identity (and that their intentions to clients are not just about activity but about real purpose), working with clients to achieve life goals based on a mutual understanding of identity becomes much easier. This becomes the secret sauce that sets financial advisors apart and improves client outcomes.
So work with clients to find their true identity. Communicate, not as a salesperson, but as someone who genuinely wants to steer clients through their biases, leading them to an investment strategy that meets both their identity needs and wealth creation needs.
If understanding your identity or the concept of “doing” rather than “being” resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you. Your questions. Your experiences. Your journeys.
See Hugh’s other writings for Nasdaq here.