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My Advice for Financial Advisors: Express Yourself

Advisors should share their work publicly, despite the fear of reactions

Carl Richards


To be allowed to express your opinion in public is a great gift. It’s also super scary.

The moment you share something in public, you open yourself up to judgment, criticism, and scorn. But you also create the possibility that your work may make a difference in someone’s life.

Of course, the opposite is also true: If no one knows about the amazing work you do, there’s very little chance you will get to help them. If you don’t play in traffic, you will NEVER get hit.

One of my great frustrations is seeing the unbelievable work real financial advisors all over the world are doing and, at the same time, talking to people who desperately need that help but either don’t know where to find it or don’t believe it exists. Based on the email I get from my New York Times column, I’m positive that if people knew what a real advisor would do for them, they would line up outside the door to get it.

But here’s the deal: They don’t believe advisors such as you exist. There have been too many stories of bad actors in our business, too many fake advisors who should be selling shoes but instead are peddling investment products, and too many confusing messages coming from the industry that real advisors are a part of.

This, my friends, must change, because the people need you!

The only way that is going to change is one story at a time. One advisor doing the right thing for one client—repeated over and over. It is the compounding effect of honesty.

If you want to accelerate the process, and make change at scale, the only reliable way I’ve ever seen to do it is to share your work in public. The tools to do this are all free and easy to use. But it’s not the tools that will stop you from doing it. It’s fear.

You’re scared. You will make up all sorts of stories about why you can’t share your work. You’re busy, it’s too simple, your compliance folks won’t let you. But those are just places to hide. The truth is you’re scared.

Guess what? So am I.

Every single time. Every issue of Morningstar magazine since 2010 when I started writing this column, I’ve been scared. Every week for the past eight years as I write my column for The New York Times, I’m scared.

So, join me in the fear. Start your email newsletter, create a blog, ask your local business journal or hometown paper if you can write for it, give a presentation at Rotary. Speak up. Your work is too important to hide behind fear. The people need you!

Please believe me that the difference between people who share their work in public and those who don’t is not that the former are unafraid. It’s that they feel the fear and do it anyway.

This blog post is adapted from an article that originally appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Morningstar magazine. Read the full article.

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