Technology may hinder your success

Success is measured differently by many, but for some, such as legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, success comes more from how you conduct your life than what you achieve. In effect, it’s about the journey, not the destination. And in today’s fast-paced and results-oriented world, the young financial advisor who relies too heavily on technology to get ahead may unwittingly miss some basic tenets of success.

Every older generation will say that the younger generation is impatient; however, it may be more the case today than ever before due, in large part, to the immediacy and instant gratification that technology brings the Millennials born after 1980. Today, much can be accomplished from the comforts of your home or office, simply by lifting a finger.

Most university and college graduates want a high-paying entry-level job. This was true for me 30 years ago, and for my parents long before that. But unlike a generation ago, young people today have all the information at their fingertips and know where the market trades. If they can’t advance quickly enough in their career or can take advantage of a higher commission grid elsewhere, they can easily move to another job for a bump in pay. With solutions to any problem just a mouse click away, the temptation to move is strong. After all, with such access to information and opportunity, young people may ask themselves why they should stay in their jobs beyond the first few speed bumps they encounter in their careers?

As an example, some 60% of new advisors don’t make it through the first two years on the job. Learning about financial planning may be the least difficult; finding prospects and developing client relationships takes time and, to use the sports metaphor, practice. As a result, advisors are getting older and fewer young people are entering this profession despite the opportunity created by the large segment of baby boomers and Generation X investors who need help managing their money. There are many reasons for this turnover among young advisors, but technology plays a part.

Although some modern thinkers, such as Malcolm Gladwell, have examined the factors that contribute to high levels of success and have acknowledged the importance of hard work, they pander to today’s results-driven individual by reducing the secrets of success to a simple formula. Parents around the world read Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and embraced the “10,000-Hour Rule,” which states that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is a matter of practising the correct way for a total of 10,000 hours. Thus, they sign their youngsters up for hockey knowing that if Johnny starts practising at the age of eight for three hours each and every day, he may make the NHL draft at age 18.

We may learn more on the journey than at the destination, but the benefits of the journey have been short-circuited. For example, we can look up any destination on Google Maps or Waze and find the absolute quickest route between points A and B. It’s less about the learning process and more about speed and efficiency as results are what we seek. Trial and error is now relegated to microprocessors and algorithms that consider all alternatives and in a “presto” moment tell us our next move.

So, how should you use technology properly and not have it negatively affect your chances for success? Simply practice the skills needed to help your clients and above all, be patient. Use technology to assist you in your pursuit of success, but recognize the impact that shortcuts afforded by technology may produce. Wooden lived to be 99 and led the UCLA men’s basketball team to 12 NCAA national championships and an unprecedented seven in a row between 1967 and 1973. He understood a lot about success and placed hard work and patience above all its other attributes.

There is a real downside to having so much knowledge so readily available: We are forgetting the benefits of hard work and even failure; as a result, our patience is wearing thin. Thus, those who focus more on the prize and less on the process, may be disappointed. The patient advisor who enjoys the journey, wants to make a difference and does not measure success solely by the assets under management he or she gathers along the way, will do well.