A career as an independent financial professional is rewarding beyond comprehension in many ways. Effecting lives of the clients you touch in a positive way is spirit-raising. There’s nothing like standing by your clients’ side as they identify their challenges, acknowledge them, take ownership, and make a decision to take action with you as their guide. There’s something very rewarding about being a part of planning for the rest and best years of their life, while preparing them for the worst if the day comes.
Flexibility, Control, and Potential
You also have the freedom of flexible hours. You get to set your own schedule, design a consistent planning proces, and have full control your professional and personal life. This freedom has allowed many of my friends and me to be there for our family and community. For example, my friend John has been able to coach all of his boys’ athletic teams and witness their triumphs as they were growing up which was something the other parents of the kids on John’s teams could not do. Independence certainly beats the alternative experienced by many of our corporate counterparts. Many are chained to a desk until “The Man” says they can go.
There's also an unlimited income potential. You can work as hard as you want and make as much money as you want. No one can tell you that you are capped off. How frustrating would that be? “Great job Jim! Keep up the hard work. Its really contributing to the bottom line of the company. Oh, by the way, your future efforts don’t result in more compensation for your family. Thanks ~ Management” Wow, that’s motivating!
Working on Lonely Island
Being independent is not all candy and roses. Many financial professionals reside on Lonely Island. It’s a deserted place, isolated from other people. All of the weight of the world is on your shoulders. The stress and anxiety of daily challenges are on you. There’s no one to talk through your frustrations with, or to help you solve the problems of your business. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
You see, the big trade off of the freedom of independence is the isolation some independent financial professionals experience. You are free, you answer to no one but yourself, you keep the rewards of your efforts. However, no one is looking out for you. No support network from office co-workers and no one is cheering you on to success. It’s all about you, and up to you to succeed.
Downside of Industry Conventions
Of course, there are vendor meetings, industry conventions, and other gatherings we can participate in. There are cocktail hours for mingling with other independent advisors (I don’t personally enjoy these settings). There are keynote speakers on the main stage brought in as learning opportunities for us. However, these environments are no replacement for the human interaction we need and don't replace the feeling of belonging to a group that understands you and is interested in your success.
Benefits of a Support Team
Having someone who relates to your situation that you can talk to over a beer, coffee, or smoothie is priceless. As one of my friends once stated, “I attended the big meetings. They are over the top and some even opulent, and you pick up a few ideas, but I learn more in the hallway side conversation connecting with others experiencing the same challenges as me. I get more from that than I do from the main stage keynote speakers.”
When you know you have someone in your corner who shares the same experiences and is facing the same challenges, you feel more confident and inspired. They lift you up, and drive you to become better. You don’t want to let them down, so you drive harder out of respect for the other person who cares about you. This is why the military believes in the team vs. the individual. This is why professional sports teams who work together and support one another win more championships.
There are rewards to being independent but there are trade-offs too. Your level of effort defines your level of income. The good thing is, if you find the right partners, you align with other achievers who won’t let you get away with slacking off. The best thing you can do for yourself as an independent agent is to work with an accountability coach and attend smaller mastermind meetings.
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