7 self-sabotaging behaviors for financial advisors to banish

We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re your own worst enemy.” Unfortunately, at one time or another, this can be true for all of us. It’s all too easy to do things that go against our goals.

As a financial advisor, it makes sense to be careful not to undermine your goals. You have things you want to achieve and you would be smart not to stand in your own way.

When it comes to self-sabotaging behaviors, you might think of big things like not showing up for work or not returning client calls. Sometimes though, these behaviors can be smaller things. Sometimes, they can even be things that don’t seem so bad on the surface.

Below are seven self-sabotaging behaviors financial advisors should avoid. If you find yourself doing these behaviors, and you want to learn how to avoid them, you may consider looking into business coaching or Executive Coaching. It can have a powerful impact on your behaviors and your financial advisor business.

You might also consider reading a book like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  It can help you develop positive habits that can get you on the right track

1. Self-sabotage: Mistaking activity for productivity

This is an all too easy trap to fall into. Feeling busy and doing things can seem the same as getting things done. It isn’t though.

Often, as a financial advisor, you can spend a lot of time doing things, such as checking emails, going to meetings, and creating reports. These things feel like you are doing something, but sometimes they are a distraction from your goals.

When you think about the activities you do, try to think about what those activities accomplish in terms of your goals, not simply what they accomplish by themselves.

Why are you checking your email again? What is the information in that report really used for? Is there an actual productivity benefit to having that meeting?

Your answers to these questions can help you avoid work for work’s sake. Although you might find yourself doing less, you’ll find yourself getting more done.

2. Self-sabotage: Doing it all yourself

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Is this a saying you live by?

While this idea might be good in some situations, it can be self-sabotaging in others.

There are certain things that you do that are important. These are things that are either time sensitive, important to a client or other stakeholder, or both. These are things you should do yourself. These are things where, if you want something done right, do it yourself.

There are other things though. Things that aren’t so important either because they aren’t time sensitive or because there isn’t a stakeholder directly in need of having the thing done.

Should you be the one spending time mailing invitations to a client appreciation event? Should you be the one who makes fifty copies of a meeting packet?

There are lots of activities that you can delegate. Things that aren’t a priority that someone else can do as well as or maybe even better than you. Delegating tasks can help you to have more time for important work.

If you find that you’re doing everything yourself, and you’re in a position to hire someone you can delegate tasks to, you should consider hiring an assistant. An assistant can do work that can help free you up for more important things.

3. Self-sabotage: Not saying “no” as a financial advisor

As a financial advisor, you’re a people person. You want to make people happy. You work in a profession where you help people with their money goals and dreams.

This attribute though, can sometimes go too far. As a financial advisor, you only have so many hours in the day, and only so many things you can focus on. If you say yes to everything that comes your way, you won’t be able to do the things that are really important.

When someone, whether a client, colleague, superior, or someone else, asks you to do something, consider whether you really should be doing it.

When someone asks if you can plan the next company event or take on a research project or anything else, ask yourself if you really should be doing it. Although you want to help, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the other things you do.

Learn to say “no” when it’s appropriate and have more time to focus on the things you really need to do.

4. Self-sabotage: Not seeing your financial advisor practice as a business

Is being a financial advisor just a job? Is it something that you do simply to make ends meet? Is it something where you are completely focused on the tasks of being a financial advisor?

Whether you own your own financial advisor practice or you work for a larger company, you have to realize that what you do is a business. It isn’t just a job or even just a profession.

It helps to have a long term view of what you do. You should be able to plan for one, five, even ten years out. You ought to think about things like marketing and growing your number of clients. You can’t just be focused on today. You should think about tomorrow and look at tomorrow with a broad perspective.

5. Self-sabotage: Not knowing when to stop your financial advisor work

Sometimes, as a financial advisor, you’re going to have long hours. Some weeks will be fifty to sixty hours long. Sometimes you’ll be always on your phone or computer, even when you’re home or somewhere else.

While this is unavoidable in some circumstances, you have to be careful that it doesn’t become the norm. You can’t work and be available 24/7 and think you won’t get burned out. You have to know when to stop working.

Rest, relaxation, spending time with family, vacations, and just not thinking about work are important. You have to recuperate and refocus to be your best when you are working.

If you find you have your work following you home on a regular basis, you might have a problem with time management. Here’s an article that can help you find more time in your day.

6. Self-sabotage: Falling in love with technology without boundaries

Technology. It’s a pretty enticing thing. It’s something that promises to make everything easier and solve all your problems. But does it?

Sometimes technology can be a hindrance. Think about all the times when something would have be easier “the old fashioned way”. Think about all the times you had to click through fifteen menus to do something that you used to do by hand.

Also, technology has a 24/7 quality about it. You can always be on your phone or computer. This though isn’t always good. Sometimes having your tech follow you around can make it harder to get anywhere.

Additionally, technology has a gadget quality to it. For example, you are doing something at work, such as managing customer information with something like notecards. Then, a vendor comes along with a software package they promise will make everything easier. They tell you how it will streamline your process and make everything more efficient and connected.

A few weeks in though, after you’ve gotten tired of being on hold with tech support and pulled all your hair out trying to move some data from one folder to another, you’ll wish you had your notecards back. Sometimes gadgets don’t live up to the hype.

You have to be careful with technology. While it can help, you shouldn’t fall in love with it to the point where you don’t see its flaws.

7. Self-sabotage: Procrastinating as a financial advisor

All right, that client needs that information, but before you get to it you need to check your email, make those copies, return that phone call, organize your desk … you get the idea. Is this ever you?

Procrastination is almost like a bright shiny coin. On the one side, you avoid doing something you might not want to do. Maybe the work is tedious or the situation is difficult. On the other side, it feels productive. Sure, you didn’t do what you needed to do, but you did all these other things.

There’ an old saying, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” It means don’t be fooled by something that looks real, but isn’t. That’s how you need to see the coin of procrastination. While it may look shiny, that’s just paint. It’s just wood underneath.

Find some real coins, get to work, and do the things you really need to do.


“You’re your own worst enemy.” We all know the saying. It’s time to change things though. It’s time to stop doing things that get in the way of your goals. When you do, you might find you’re your own best friend.

About Suzanne Muusers