Overcoming imposter syndrome: Why advisers deserve success

Recently I presented to a group of advisers participating in a year-long coaching program that focuses on the inner workings of their practices to help them become better CEOs. I began the discussion by asking approximately 30 advisers a simple question: How many of you suffer from imposter syndrome?

I was referring to instances when advisers doubt their professional abilities or worry that their clients will think they’re a fraud.

The coaching program, which consists of workshops, coaching calls and other check-ins, provides strategic guidance for increasing scale and building efficiencies, solving tricky succession concerns, developing staff and adviser talent, and growing a client base.

While the recent session was productive, it also brought up mutual issues among the attendees. Even though these advisers perform their duties with unparalleled excellence, they feel as if they’re just ordinary people wanting to use their talents to help others.


I wanted to get to the source of this shared professional disconnect and uncover the reasons why these advisers didn’t feel like the brilliant professionals they are. This behavioral pattern can thwart daily productivity, pause career growth and prevent leaders from knowing their true worth. A seasoned adviser admitted this anxious thought to me years ago, and while I was surprised, the answer has resurfaced so many times that I realized it’s a part of an adviser’s psyche.

So I expected a reaction from the room, but I was fully shocked by the crowd’s response. Every single hand went up. These incredible, hardworking advisers said that even when they achieve their financial goals, provide for their families, and attain the flexibility to balance their business and personal lives, deep down they still doubt their success.


It’s curious, this mindset. After hearing these stories, I wondered if there was an industrywide trend that prompted this collective feeling among advisers. Was it because of the growing negative press or strict regulations proposed over the years, repeatedly telling clients and prospects that they need protection from financial professionals? Or could it be the many harmful portrayals of financial advisers in popular culture?

Theories aside, the advisers I know and work with have little in common with the stereotypes portrayed in the media. Most advisers care too much about their clients, not too little.

The majority of these financial experts act as fiduciaries, meaning that decisions are made with each client’s best interests in mind. This is a legal obligation, as well as a philosophical one. The first concern we usually hear raised during succession planning discussions, for example, is not, “What can I sell my practice for?” but rather, “Who would take care of my clients?”


So who are these advisers who sometimes feel like imposters? They’re smart, kind and caring people who work tirelessly to help clients create a plan, set goals and invest wisely for their families. They remove the financial stress and worry from their clients’ lives and prioritize their unique needs.

These advisers have advanced degrees and designations, and most are committed to learning all they can to better serve the individuals and families who rely on them. They’re thoughtful listeners, dear friends and trusted confidantes — and they’re often the ones who receive the first phone call when something bad happens. During the height of the pandemic, when attendance at funerals and weddings was strictly limited, we often learned that a family’s financial adviser was often one of the few guests invited.

I would argue that after one’s physical health, the greatest factor in determining a person’s quality of life is their financial well-being. Earning, investing and preserving money are key factors in an individual’s home life and educational path, and the experiences they choose to enjoy.

These are only a few of the countless reasons an adviser’s work should be celebrate — it has a lasting, positive impact on their clients’ lives. Instead of having feelings of imposter syndrome, I hope advisers can take a step back and relish their merited success and accomplishments. They shouldn’t be afraid to let people know who they are or what they do — because it’s pretty darn great.

[MORE: Correcting the blind spots in our practices]

Kristine McManus serves as vice president and chief business development officer at Commonwealth Financial Network.

The post Overcoming imposter syndrome: Why advisers deserve success appeared first on InvestmentNews.

Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.

Andrew Vincent
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He's also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.
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