No matter where you stand in the “nature vs nurture” debate, it’s hard to deny that personality plays a role in the lives we lead — including the career we opt for. Wondering if you have the right personality to make a success of being a financial advisor?
To help you decide, we’ll run through the main personality types and how they affect your suitability for working as a financial advisor.
The topic of personality can be hotly debated. There are many different theories and frameworks about what personality is, from the Enneagram to the Myers-Briggs to Type A and Type B. However, the most scientifically validated is the Big Five.
This states that there are five main personality traits:
Everyone possesses these characteristics to differing degrees. For instance, one person might have a low level of extraversion and a high level of agreeableness.
It should be noted that none of these personality traits is “good” or “bad.” They all come with benefits and drawbacks — even neuroticism can help someone to be more aware of potential dangers and keep themselves safe.
However, that doesn’t mean every combination of traits is equally suited to every task or profession, including working as a financial advisor. While everyone is different, it’s possible to make a few generalisations.
So now we come to the ultimate question: Which personality traits make for a good financial advisor? Let’s run through each of the Big 5 personality traits so you can assess where you stand and determine whether being a financial advisor is a good fit for your personality.
Working as a financial advisor requires you to be good at sales and managing relationships with clients. It’s unsurprising that many assume being an extravert is a key ingredient for success.
It’s true that extraversion helps — it means that an advisor is more likely to feel comfortable directing conversations with clients and carrying out sales meetings with new clients, for instance.
But it may not be as important as many people assume. While financial advisors are more likely to be extroverts, introverts can also succeed. They’re often better at cultivating one-on-one relationships than extroverts, who tend to thrive at making a larger number of more surface-level relationships. Since introverts are usually good at analysing information and solving problems alone, they often do a good job at helping clients to choose the right financial products too.
In other words: Introverts and extroverts are likely to excel at different aspects of being a financial advisor.
Given that we’ve defined conscientiousness as meaning someone is organized and productive, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s one of the most important traits for determining success as a financial advisor.
A conscientious financial advisor is prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed in the profession. That includes having the discipline to find clients, maintain relationships with current clients, and study relevant products to give recommendations.
A high level of conscientiousness also means that someone is good at following rules and meeting their obligations. This is useful for a financial advisor, because it means they will be less likely to turn up late to appointments or miss deadlines.
Those who are very high in conscientiousness may be able to compensate for a lower level of extraversion or other less desirable facets of their personality. For instance, even if they don’t necessarily enjoy seeking out new clients or networking, they will have the discipline it takes to force themselves to get out of their comfort zone or learn skills they don’t have a natural inclination for.
Being very high in agreeableness can also give you an edge as a financial advisor, because it helps an advisor to be more compassionate toward clients and go out of their way to help them.
People high in agreeableness are more sensitive to the feelings of others, and this makes them good at “reading the room.” As a result, they may be able to sense how someone else is feeling and adapt to that accordingly — which can help them convince clients to work with and trust them. Agreeable people also tend to be good at cooperating and working as a team.
However, agreeableness isn’t all good. It’s also useful to be less agreeable at times, or you could risk becoming a “yes man” or “pushover.” For instance, being too agreeable could lead you to bend over backwards for difficult clients or accept lower prices than you should, which won’t help you to grow your career.
While many people evolved to be somewhat neurotic for a good reason — to protect their lives and the lives of their loved ones in survival situations — being too neurotic isn’t a good thing for financial advisors. It’s a job that requires someone to be calm, especially when things get tough.
Working as an financial advisor can be a high-pressure career. You might have to deal with high-powered, demanding clients who put you through your paces, navigate difficult situations such as the financial markets dropping and affecting your clients’ wealth, or a customer needing to make a claim on their insurance policy. Being able to keep your head amid these challenging moments is pivotal.
Some level of neuroticism can be overcome by using techniques to manage anxiety or similar, but excessive emotional volatility is likely to be a barrier.
Now we come to a trait that is less important to being a financial advisor. Openness to experience affects someone’s intellectual curiosity, how much they enjoy thinking about abstract ideas, and how creative they are. None of these traits significantly affect how good someone is at advising on investments or insurance products.
Instead, financial advisors focus mostly on giving standard advice they learned in training, which is why conscientiousness is the more important factor.
Still, given the choice, it’s likely better to have some openness to experience. In some cases, it’s possible that being more creative could help a financial advisor to think outside the box and tap into a new market or attract clients in a new way.
Regardless of what your personality type might be, chances are that your own unique blend of traits, skills, and experiences can offer some level of value to a career as a financial advisor. However, certain traits will certainly give you an edge, especially conscientiousness and agreeableness.
Here’s the straight, no BS insight: No matter your personality type, if you don’t know how to package and present yourself effectively, you're already behind the curve. And that’s where personal branding comes into play.
Your personal brand tells prospects why they should trust you. Why they should listen to you. And why they should invest with you.
Curious about where to showcase this gleaming personal brand? Here’s a little pro tip: LinkedIn. Prospects often seek out professional insights there, making it prime real estate for financial advisors.
Sure, your personality type can nudge you in the direction of success. But remember: Conscientiousness and agreeableness might be your superpowers, but they’re not your only assets.
If you've decided to take the financial advisor route, don't just rely on your personality, invest in your personal brand. It’s the silent powerhouse that will truly set you apart in a sea of advisors.