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Opinion

Advising Like a Champion

April 21, 2016

As a former Division I college baseball player at the University of Virginia, I’m more than familiar with the qualities an athlete needs to be at the top of their game.

When I graduated, I realized the skills I had been using on the field weren’t useless simply because I was no longer playing the game. In fact, those characteristics followed me into my professional career as a financial advisor.

Athletes and advisors share a number of skill sets that are essential for success. Some athletes, like myself, even go on to work as an advisor. Because of the skills they’ve developed through sports, athletes make some of the best financial advisors.

Preparation: Athletes know that winning starts off the field – preparation is the key to success. They learn to prepare physically and mentally by training, practicing and studying to set themselves up for the win.

For advisors, preparation is just as important. You have to position yourself to win the game you’re playing long before it starts. This concept of dedicated preparation is a regimen instilled in athletes, giving them the tools for success as an advisor.

Teamwork: No matter the sport, teamwork is an element crucial to success. Players know that the game isn’t just in their own hands. They must rely on others to win. Because of this they recognize the importance of communication and respect the ability to work well with others.

In advising, the idea is the same.

It’s not just you – it’s the people that you work with, as well as your clients. All of these have to be in sync for you to develop an effective financial strategy.

Offense and defense: In sports, you need offense and defense to win. A team can’t be entirely focused on offense or they’ll give up too many points. However, a team can’t just play defense either because they won’t score.

Athletes recognize that there’s a balance and flow to a game. Advisors have to look at investing the same way. You need an approach that allows you to “score points,” but at the same time acts as a defensive strategy that keeps you from getting blindsided. That’s how you win.

Performance under pressure: The clock is ticking and the team is down by seven, but from the quarterback’s standpoint the game isn’t over yet.

Athletes constantly face high pressure, high stakes situations, but just because the circumstances are daunting does not mean they throw in the towel.

In advising, having this mindset is key – it’s inevitable you’ll encounter obstacles you have to overcome. Being able to stay cool under pressure and persevere is an important factor in advising, just as much as it is in athletics.

Adaptation: In sports your opponent is constantly changing. It’s crucial for an athlete to grow and adapt.

While the goal of winning always stays the same, how that goal is accomplished must evolve. An athlete can go head-to-head with five different opponents and have to execute a different strategy each time in order to win.

As an advisor, it’s important to be just as adaptable. If you had five clients, would you use the same approach for each one? Not likely.

Advisors have to recognize the challenges they face with each individual situation and be able to adapt to those particular conditions in order to stay ahead of the game.

Ultimately, the skills that athletes and successful advisors share are countless. The next time you catch a game, make sure you take note – you might learn a thing or two.