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addressing your weaknesses

A reader asks:

I’m a 31 year old investment advisor and really enjoy the content you guys put up. I’m wondering if you guys have any advice on how to mitigate that initial momentary flash of panic as relatively young people in the industry I think some customers feel when they first walk into a room and Let’s wonder “Is this guy old enough to give me investment advice?” Obviously ultimately you build credibility by understanding their financial situation, goals and circumstances and providing them with useful and relevant advice. But I know some people are taken aback when a young face comes to talk about their investments. So, I thought I’d ask if you have any useful advice. Sadly I can’t grow much facial hair and rock a 5 o’clock shadow like Ben, and at the same time am “cursed” with a full head of hair, so wise bald man Michael has to either haha can not see.

I feel your pain here. I am 40 years old, have 3 kids and even now I make cards regularly. That’s probably why I’m rocking the 5 o’clock shadow in the first place.

My first meeting with a potential client was with a gentleman in his 50s when I came to Ritholtz Wealth. He took one look at me and my coworker Chris, and said he was surprised at how young we were.

Our response was something like this:

you are right We are probably younger than most of the consultants you will come across. But we believe that it is beneficial for you. We are creating a financial plan that lasts for decades. Your kids may take it from you one day. Don’t you want people who are going to see through it?

See what we did there?

Now, it’s also true that we have old advisors on staff. There is no right or wrong age and there is something to be said for both experience and expertise when building these relationships.

You have to find ways to stand out when you are young or look very young or a combination of both.

Be so good at your craft that it is impossible for customers to turn you down. Find a specific area of ‚Äč‚Äčexpertise that compels customers to look for you. Practice your story enough that it becomes second nature when selling your services.

The thing is, you need to convert your weakness into advantage somehow.

There was a story in Esquire several years ago about Channing Tatum (of 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike fame).

Tatum was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and did not do very well in school. He eventually received a scholarship to play football in Wake Forest, but did not take it for academic reasons.

Even though he wasn’t very good in class, he learned to harness his energy through martial arts, which he attributes to his successful acting career:

In the afternoon, free from school, he spent untold hours with his martial-arts instructor, a master, tracing shapes in the air until he could feel them knuckle down the outside of his arms. As long as he could feel them without conscious thought. “It wasn’t complicated,” he recalls. “I learned to appreciate repetition. So I can dance. That’s how I learned to act. I have a high tolerance for repetition. And for the first time in my life, I was so busy that I didn’t want to stop until I got it right. This never happened to me in school. Not even once.”

Tatum moved to L.A. with no acting experience and became one of Hollywood’s biggest draws at the box office due to his high tolerance for repetition. He turned a weakness into a strength by focusing on what he could control.

Entering high school, I weighed probably a twenty-two and was the youngest kid on my football team. Knowing that I was one of the shortest players on the field, I spent six days a week in the weight room my junior year and packed on 15-20lbs. Why muscle?

I knew people who were much older than me who never bothered to lift weights because they didn’t think it necessary. These were the players who never got better with time.

I dropped out of school without great job prospects because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. When I got my first job in this business it became clear very quickly how much I still had to learn.

Every conversation I was part of in that first year felt like it was in over my head.

So I devoured every book I read about investing, stocks, bonds, market history and the greatest investors of all time. I looked at everything and asked my boss a million questions. I made up for my lack of knowledge by learning as much as I could to play catch-up.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to continue the process of learning. That skill set has benefited me more than any other in my career.

Obviously, looking younger than your age has bigger problems but everyone is dealing with one or the other.

You can either complain about your misfortune or look for ways to mitigate your weaknesses, or better yet, turn them into strengths.

Michael and I tackled this question and more on this week’s Animal Spirits video:

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Further reading:
freedom to limit oneself

Now here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

  • Rocket and Wings (Modern Money)
  • Do not compare the current housing boom to the previous housing bubble (calculated risk)
  • Peter Lynch (TKer) on the stock market
  • Do you need a financial planner? (uninformed investor)
  • Lessons from 98 Years of Wisdom (AARP)
  • Inside Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy’s Mad Max Feud (Vanity Fair)


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