The Type of Personality Your Advisor Should Have

In the New York Times bestseller, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, the author Adam Grant discusses three different personality types in terms of how they treat others. He identifies what he refers to as givers, takers and matchers. This book can change the way you think about success personally, and help you idenify where on the giver, matcher and taker spectrum your financial advisor is.

We tend to think of those who consistently put others ahead of themselves as altruistic and admirable, but I doubt many of us would think of them as highly successful. The author points out that, contrary to popular belief, those who get ahead and stay ahead in the business world are not the hardest workers or the hustlers - they’re actually the ones who are most focused on helping others.

Financial Advisors Should Be Givers

Unfortunately, the financial world has a lot of takers and matchers, according to the definition that Grant gives. They don’t understand that true value comes from giving. Financial advisors should focus on helping others: they should be givers. This means that they should help clients, colleagues, and anyone who is interested in learning more about financial planning. Do you think your advisor may be a matcher, or, even worse, a taker? Here’s how to find out.

Does Your Advisor Have a Have Matcher Mindset?

The vast majority of people operate under a matcher mindset. They believe that if they do for others, others should do for them in return. These are the people who will help someone out, but then get discouraged or upset if others don’t help them. They will sometimes put their needs second, but it’s rare that they do so without expectations. (For related reading, see: How to Select a Financial Advisor.)

Does your advisor give you good advice on stocks to buy or investments to pursue, but then take offense if you don’t agree or want to go in a different direction? Do you find that if you don’t promptly return a phone call or respond to an email that your advisor’s communication also starts to slip? Do you think your advisor pays more attention to his clients that have more money than you do? If so, your advisor may be a matcher.

Takers Look Out for Number One

Takers will do whatever it takes to get ahead and they don’t care who they hurt in the process. In the beginning of a business relationship, their services and their personality can seem very compelling, and they are therefore able to easily reel in clients. However, over time, the cracks start to show and those close to them become wise to their ways.

Does your advisor continually use the words "me," "I" and "my" and rarely utter the words "we" or "us"? Do you feel you are punished for asking questions or second-guessing any of his advice? Do you feel your advisor is constantly telling you what to do and rarely listens to your concerns? Is your advisor flashy and make frequent attempts to draw attention to himself (in his book, Grant calls this behavior "fleeking")? If so, you may have fallen victim to a taker.

Signs Your Advisor Is a Giver

Givers are naturally inclined to help others get ahead. They do so without expecting anything in return and their satisfaction is multiplied when they see those around them becoming successful. Though givers may not be the most gregarious or charming people in the room, they are the ones who will always help you find the bathroom or hook you up with the one person at an event who can help take your business to the next level. Givers not only improve the lives of those they care about, but they also inspire others to give more.

Does you advisor always take the time to listen to you and suggest resources that can help you out with all aspects of your life? Is your advisor consistently sending you helpful links, book suggestions or podcasts that will expand your thinking and help you manage your investment behavior? Does your advisor focus more on improving his or her own physical, mental, and emotional health than on acquiring impressive cars or clothing? These are all signs that you’ve made a good choice of advisors and that yours is a giver.

How Givers Benefit Clients

A financial advisor should be a giver. When financial advisors are givers, not only can they improve the financial situation of their clients, they also help them feel appreciated and inspired to reach higher levels of success. (For more from this author, see: 6 Things That Make a Fiduciary Advisor Different.)