Are All Advisors Ego Maniacs? – ValueWalk Premium

Are All Advisors Ego Maniacs?

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Are huge egos the norm in the advisor business? This is my third financial advisory firm – I left the first one because the guy who founded it was an ego-maniac. He wanted to control and have the final say on everything. I left there for a great opportunity with a much larger firm.

I interviewed with the COO, who was a woman and really sharp. I never met the founder of the firm because it was characterized that he was “semi-retired.” Not true. He is involved in every single thing that happens at that firm, large or small. I got sick of questions about how I was managing my own clients.

Now I am at my third firm – and lucky because I have loyal clients who have followed me and I have no non-competes that prevent me from taking them with me (I have brought them to the firms, too). I work for a trio of partners and two of them are great, but one is another ego-maniac.

Am I destined to work for people who think they know everything? Is that this business? Should I go out on my own? I have little hubris about what I do. We’re here to help people.


Dear A.E.,

I’m sorry to hear of your journey! You don’t say how long you have been in the business but three firms where you are miserably unhappy is not a great track record no matter how many years. You have a few questions in your note to me so I’ll try and answer all of them.

Are huge egos the norm? In any business where people are smart and have the ability to make a great deal of money you are going to find big egos. Many people equate education and income with intelligence and success and therefore believe they are special. I’m not saying they are, just that it is a common belief system.

I’ve seen many cases where founders hold onto a lot of control. Is it ego? Not always. Sometimes it is fear. They have grown a successful firm, have made a number of good decisions and may struggle to let go and let others take over from the fear that things start to go awry. It isn’t always ego = control, sometimes it is fear = control.

The most important part of your note is your own situation and whether you personally are destined to put up with people who make your life miserable, or whether you should forge out on your own path and become an entrepreneur. That is the essence of what you are asking. Who cares whether there are ego-centric people or whether the founders of firms won’t yield ultimate control? What matters in your situation is, can you deal with these people? Can you be happy and effective working underneath them? Can you ignore what ticks you off and do good work in spite of it?

That’s a question most people have to eventually answer in their careers. The surveys that have been done by HR groups over many years continually point to “a bad boss” as the number-one reason people will quit a job. If you can’t tolerate working for someone you view as full of themselves and potentially not able to make good decisions as a result, then either find a fourth situation that might be the charm for you, or forge out on your own.

Remember that founding your own firm is not an easy fix. There are many, many pitfalls with being a business owner. While you no longer have a boss to irritate you, you will have many other things that will be stressful and irritating. It isn’t necessarily best to go out on your own, but if you can’t tolerate where you are and it is difficult for you to do the good work you want to do, then it is a reasonable consideration. Take the time with a third party to go through the pros and cons and figure out what’s best for you.

Read the full article here by Beverly Flaxington, Advisor Perspectives

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