What Financial Advisors Can Learn From Joe Flaco

By Dr. Jack Singer

How to Conquer the Real Threat to Your Success as an Advisor

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.

I don’t know Joe Flacco personally. But I know a thing or two about what it takes to become a champion, as he did by leading the Baltimore Ravens to victory in the 2013 Super Bowl.

With my 33 years of experience as a Professional Sport Psychologist, I have counseled and trained many professional football players and world champion athletes. They all face challenges, adversities and setbacks during their careers. One thing they had in common was that most suffered from “imposter fear” – a psychological obstacle that many financial advisors experience.

“Imposter Fear” occurs when – no matter how much confidence or even swagger an athlete may display to teammates, opponents, coaches, or his fans – self-doubt nags at him, and he worries that he will be exposed as inadequate to the challenges he faces. In Joe Flacco’s case, he was always unheralded, first by entering the NFL out of I-AA University of Delaware, where the level of competition did not match up with large I-A programs. Pundits wondered if the unassuming Flacco could perform on the big stage of the Super Bowl, and they predicted that in the line of fire he wouldn’t compare to the much ballyhooed quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick .

Advisors can also experience “imposter fear” – worrying that their success owes to luck and somehow they’ve fooled others into believing they are skilled advisors. They believe that it’s only a matter of time before that luck runs out and they are exposed. This is a frightening prospect. They anticipate embarrassment and ultimate failure in their career. This fear of failure causes performance anxiety.

I have helped many athletes overcome their “impostor fear” to consistently perform at their best. The exact same set of skills I teach them can be employed by advisors. I was recently invited to consult with a wealth management firm whose president was concerned about inconsistent performance from a large percentage of his advisors. Moreover, because of the ailing economy and a roller-coaster stock market, his assets under management were declining sharply.

Following a series of confidential interviews with a sample of advisors in the firm, it became clear to me that many suffered from anxiety, because of the market conditions and because of the somewhat unrealistic expectations of their president, but also because they harbored their own internal insecurities. I designed a series of training programs to teach the advisors how to recognize and overcome their fears, maintain an optimistic and proactive approach with their clients, use active listening skills, overcome stress and anxiety and ultimately how to lead to their clients directing new referrals to them.

What was the most important issue I helped these advisors overcome? You guessed it: “impostor fear.” Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will discuss the Origins of the Imposter Fear.


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