What has always fascinated me was how natural it was for young athletes to view successful older athletes as role models. In many ways it’s really more a form of hero worship. None-the-less, Nike and other sporting good manufacturers invest millions each year marketing to this hero worship – be like Mike. And this sports hero worship and role model infatuation can be either positive or negative – and it’s not always realistic. Let’s face it, not every star athlete is Peyton Manning.

So my question is simple; why aren’t financial advisors immersed in the power of role models? Why aren’t they infatuated with the elite advisors and trying to model everything about them? I’m not sure I have an answer. What I do know is that role model power is two-dimensional:

1. Possessing a positive role model to help you develop into your potential (as an advisor, parent, spouse, friend, etc.);

2. Regarding yourself as a role model (to junior advisors, support personnel, colleagues, family members, your children, friends, etc.) is equally powerful.

But where have all the role models gone? One can make an argument that there is a shortage across the board, from politicians to civic leaders to CEOs.

According to our research, advisors in the beginning phase of their career (less than five years in the business) are bringing in nearly as many new assets ($4.8 million vs. $5.6 million) on an annual basis as more established advisors (with five to 15 years in the business) – and this includes new assets from current clients. When it comes to meeting affluent client expectations, according to what our research determines statistically significant in importance, there was little difference between newer advisors and veterans.

The role model challenge is twofold:

  1. Find a role model who is an advisor. You are looking for an elite advisor, who is consistently in growth mode and acquiring new affluent clients. Someone who treats others with respect and has been able to develop a loyal support team who consistently delivers Ritz Carlton service with FedEx efficiency. Someone who provides the full suite of wealth management services. Granted, these advisors are rare, but they can be found.
  2. Become a role model as an advisor and a person. And just because you make a decent living as an advisor your children are aware whether you are coasting or striving to reach your professional potential as they get older.

Role model power is fascinating. I’ve seen it many times over the years. Once an advisor identifies an elite advisor as a role model, similar to that young athlete, they begin to pattern themselves after this person. They model their dress, work ethic, goal focus, mannerisms, professional designations, services provided, books that are read, interpersonal communication skills, and so on. As they endeavor to model their professional “hero,” they metamorphose into role models themselves.