How is self-interest limiting your personal and professional growth?
Since Donald Trump took office, I've noticed a lot more social chatter on the topic of narcissism. I'm not a psychologist and nor am I trained to lay down diagnoses of narcissistic personality disorder, but if ever there was a poster child for NPD, beyond the original Narcissus who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water, surely it would have to be the narcissist-in-chief.
I'm not a fan of the man, but still there is no point judging someone for a spectral disorder they came by quite honestly (congenitally). I believe that most of us express these traits, even if very mildly, especially the tendency for self-interest at the expense of others. It's a natural part of surviving.
A severe crisis can trigger self-interested survival-based behavior.
Self-centered people do a lot of dumb shit when emotionally triggered. This is especially true in the finance industry when both clients and advisors get caught up in the mug's game of chasing returns. There are a great many advisors who care deeply about their clients' wealth and well-being and they build tempered, disciplined plans for them to follow. And then clients sabotage their own plans, letting base human survival drives, like fear and greed, hijack the plan.
One of the ways to understand someone's agenda and orientation is to ask them how they get paid. This is often the root of self-interest. The finance industry probably has the worst version of the agency problem. Financial advisors typically earn commissions on the products they sell. This often results in a conflict of interest between the provider of advice and the receiver. Insurance agents get most of the premiums you pay for the first year of your policy and then a trailer fee afterward (called FYC or first-year-commission).
The inherent conflict residing in the agency problem is what constitutes a moral hazard: advice can easily become self-serving. In the classic hammer-nail problem, it's not surprising that to an insurance agent the solution is always more insurance, even if that's not what the client needs. The agent works for the the supplier of the product not the client. It's very difficult to subvert the need to get paid under the need to serve.
What void would you leave behind if you were to disappear?
Jad Chehlawi built a very successful advisory business built on the principles of fiduciary duty. He realized that the real advisory challenge is not to manage the external, unpredictable, uncontrollable forces of the market but rather the internal thought patterns, emotions and behavior of the client.
The answer to that question is your real value proposition: the reason that it matters that your are present in the lives of your clients. After reflecting deeply on that question, Jad founded a technology startup dedicated to improving client-advisor interactions. He built the missing link between institutions, advisors and clients to engage remotely and execute at scale. This unprecedented vantage point on clients’ changing needs enables advisors to intervene in order to serve clients when it matters most. This allows the advisor to have deep insight into the needs, preferences and unconscious biases of the investors they are in business to support.
Fiduciaries consciously subvert their needs beneath the needs of clients.
Perception is reality but reality is highly distorted. Everyone has perceptual distortions, base animal survival instincts, cognitive biases and self-indulgent behavior. We are our own worst enemies. The value of any trusted advisor is to help us identify subtle unworkable patterns of thinking, feeling and doing and interrupt the patterns. Advisors who manage to transcend their own self-interest help us get out of our own way. And that is the ultimate act of service.