A natural application of evolved practices for financial advisors
I recently returned from a safari in Africa with my family, an altogether amazing, humbling, awesome experience. Surrounded as we usually are by constant distractions, being in Africa forced me to unplug and turn off the “work” part of my brain. But to my surprise, although Africa is as far-removed from Wall Street as you can get, I couldn’t help but recognize that the jungle echoes some aspects of the life of a financial advisor:
- Contrary to my previously held belief, when a pride of lions hunt, they don’t bring the buffalo down quickly, or attack directly. They take their time, work on all the angles, and hours later land their prey. Similarly, a successful advisory practice is not built in a matter of weeks or months. It takes years of careful planning and collaboration to build, and just as the lions study their prey, advisors must keep their career and practice goals in sight at all times, and continue to work methodically toward those goals.
- Safari guides and trackers have their own language. They must be able to communicate clearly and concisely, sometimes without using words. If they fail to understand one another, tragedy can occur. When advisors fail to communicate with their clients, that is, not listening to their needs and concerns or their tone and content, they can miss important details that would otherwise allow them to better service their clients.
- If a safari guide needs to use his weapon on an animal, 100% of the time it is because the guide didn’t respect the animal’s values and space. Similarly, if an advisor fails to respect a client’s needs and requirements, the client will not reach the level of trust required for a successful, long-term relationship.
- Identify elephants in the room fearlessly; do not ignore them, hoping they will go away. Minor annoyances can quickly blossom into seemingly insurmountable obstacles if not dealt with as they arise.
- Giraffes view the world from atop. They view the jungle as a whole, not myopically like many other animals of the bush. They obtain a clear view of their surroundings and all that is going on around them to pick the best place for their gaggle to feed while still keeping an eye on their natural predators. As the giraffe monitors its surroundings, so too should advisors take the time to assess the landscape of their industry and their place within it. They should not get so mired down in the day-to-day that they lose sight of their surroundings.
The law of the bush is that people allow nature to take its course – if a njala is about to be eaten by a lion, we can’t step in and stop it. Fortunately, that is not the case for advisors. There are more options than ever before. Rather than sitting back and waiting, advisors should practice what nature has taught us: preparation, communication, respect, and keeping a wide-open view will provide the best opportunity for them to best serve their own future, as well as that of their clients.