Jeff Spears - Founder and CEO of Sanctuary Wealth Services
(We're pleased to introduce a new column by the Wealth Consigliere himself, Jeff Spears, the founder and CEO of Sanctuary Wealth Services. We've been big fans of his blog, and are pleased we'll be carrying an original column of his here on WealthManagement.com. - ed.)
If your house is like mine, chaos reigns before a big trip. The bedlam stems from deciding on what we are going to take and what we are going to leave behind.
For those on Wall Street thinking about going independent, the same is true. The inclination is to take almost everything in your closet, including all of the survival and other skills essential for life on Wall Street.
In fact, nothing can be further from the truth.
Based on my more than 25 years of experience on Wall Street and now working with elite independent advisors, almost everything that Wall Street has taught brokers can probably be left on behind.
That may sound counter intuitive, but it’s absolutely true. Wall Street may be wildly successful in attracting the best and brightest, but most of that experience will be dead weight as an independent RIA.
Here We Go
Let’s examine four of Wall Street’s most prized skills and determine what should be left at the door as we head to a place called Independence.
Speed. On Wall Street, speed equals success. Speed is essential because you are competing against people trading millisecond to millisecond. When you arrive at Independence, that’s no longer necessary. Business off Wall Street time unfolds at a mercifully slower pace. If anything, speed will create more problems than it solves. Slowing down gives you time to think about providing the best advice to your clients.
Rainmaking. Wall Street is populated with individuals of prodigious intelligence and self-confidence who believe they can sell anything. That skill isn’t necessary when you land at Independence. That’s because you’re no longer selling your firm’s latest innovation. You’re acting as an independent advisor who won't be judged on last month’s production. Your only boss is your client, who has trusted his or her financial future to you. What you do need is your sales discipline. You’ll need that to network and keep meeting new people. What separates the good from the great in Independence is the ability to grow. You just can’t build it and they will come. You have to actively promote it. Sales skills honed on Wall Street will be a huge advantage.
Capital Markets Knowledge. On Wall Street, you can’t operate without a firm grasp of the capital markets because there is so much short-term investing and tactical thinking. You won’t need that at your new destination. You will need to retain your knowledge of the macro trends in the market. You’ll need that knowledge for investment allocation recommendations, as well as identifying new segments of the economy that are creating wealth and new clients.
Wall Street Swagger. Author Tom Wolfe nailed it when he characterized people on Wall Street as “Masters of the Universe.” When you are around these special individuals, you need to be very careful. They will run you over or anyone else who gets in the way. They will scream, yell and try to intimidate you. The usual response is to scream back and threaten to quit if you don’t get your way. The last thing Wall Street wants is to lose a star. As a result, frequent, unhealthy clashes occur between rainmakers and their superiors. Leave that excess mojo behind when you head for Independence. Citizens of Independence treat each other with respect. Take your passion with you; it made you successful in the first place.
A few more items to remember before you leave. It’s good to have a guide on your trip. You can ask a friend or trusted colleague who has been to Independence. Or engage with a business professional who can give you reasoned advice.
If you leave much of your Wall Street survival skills behind, everything will fit in a carry-on bag. You won’t have to pay baggage fees or violate Protocol. If you need anything else, you can pick it up when you get to Independence.
Now you’re ready for the best trip of your professional life.