Connecting with the Affluent When You’re Not

As an executive coach for clients in the financial services industry, I occasionally hear clients, especially those just starting out in the industry, say they feel like a fraud. Another name for this feeling is Impostor Syndrome. What exactly does this mean? It’s the feeling of not being smart enough, experienced enough, wealthy enough, well dressed enough, thin enough, old enough, or well informed enough.  You think you are “less than” the client or prospect you are dealing with and either you find yourself not Asking for the Business, not saying what you really want or just talking way too much as a defense against the mounting insecurity that grips you. 

“Who do you think you are to advise them when you yourself are not nearly at their level of financial success?!” If you hear that phrase or these familiar words, “You should have_____, You could have _____, If only you would have ____,” then it’s fairly certain your Inner Critic is on the loose and not only is it keeping you stuck but it’s also sabotaging opportunities to connect deeply.  

Connecting with people in a meaningful way especially when that person is very different than you, can be challenging, but only when you have fallen into the trap of “otherizing.”  When you see someone not as a human being but instead as their title, net worth, looks, experience or age, then you alone have created the barrier of entry.  If you see them as a “Harvard Graduate” or a “Trust-Fund Baby” or as a “M/Billionaire” or even as the “Director or CEO” you wind up losing sight of who they really and what you have in common with them,  namely, their humanity.  What can help?

  • Humanize Them: Unfortunately High School didn’t teach us how to do this it most likely taught you the opposite. These scars may still remain in your psyche. If you ever felt left out or tasted the sting of rejection from the “cool kids" it’s time to wake up to the fact that it was all made up. I remember at my 20th High School reunion speaking to R – the school bully, not only did he apologize for being such a jerk, he shared with me how uncool he actually felt when he was there. Most of the so called “cool kids” actually never felt that way themselves! Even the most successful person in the world has experienced failure and discouragement, suffered through loss, heartbreak, ilness and even the death of a loved one. Ask yourself what do you have in common with this person, instead of focusing on what you don’t.
  • Be Authentic: We are afraid to show others our authentic selves. And yet everyone can tell when we are trying to be something other than who we are. You’ll never enroll anyone when you pretend to be something other than you are. People resonate with authenticity and come back for more when you’re genuine. Bringing your authentic self to the table doesn’t mean you share all of the good, the bad and the ugly in the first or the fiftieth meeting but knowing that while you may still be a work in process - developing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses shouldn’t stop you from having something to offer right now that will make a difference to your client. You can be sure that all of your journey thus far has created a tapestry within you that is utterly unique –now you know what to focus on and what to steer clear of, that along with the rest of your experience is what provides you and them with your U.V.P. (Unique Value Proposition) so embrace it.  

I hope that these two simple, but not easy, steps help you to recognize some of the self-limiting beliefs that are keeping you small. I encourage you to begin engaging meaningfully with those that are different than you. Be gentle with yourself and patient. While you might not overcome the unease or fear immediately, over time you’ll find yourself more emboldened and eventually you’ll see past the trappings of image, title and wealth and discover the human being that stands in front of you. And what else? You’ll allow them to see the one that stands before them as well.

Kim is the Founder & CEO of The Wall Street Coach and works with movers and shakers in the business world who want to make disproportionate gains in their personal lives and careers. Connect with Kim at or @kimanncurtin

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Key Insights on Today's Investor: Why do they hire and fire advisors? [Webinar Replay]

Exclusive Survey of Wealthy Consumers [Webinar Replay]

Why Investors Hire and Fire Advisors and How Gamma Enchanes Retention   [White Paper]

comments powered by Disqus