Financial Advisor Wins: Learning from Mentors

Financial Advisor Wins: Learning from MentorsEd Note: This article is part of an ongoing series focused on the achievements made by financial advisors.

Business is about relationships. Building relationships with mentors, both fellow advisors and experts,  is not only a great way to learn and help motivate you, but it will help you make better decisions as your firm grows.


Many professionals are turning to mentors for guidance in any number of areas. Being able to talk about work with an experienced executive can help anyone, even a CEO, because mentors are capable of offering a fresh perspective.

The result of mentoring is generally positive: improved company performance, better decision-making skills and proficiency both in the workplace and a job role.

A mentor can also provide tremendous value as a sounding board when it comes to testing new ideas or considering how to approach a difficult situation. The idea is to leverage your mentor’s knowledge and experience as a tool for making good decisions.

Choosing the right mentor is about finding the proper fit – someone you can cultivate a personal and professional relationship with. Seek someone who thinks differently, but who understands the business and has an interest in your success. You need someone whose past experiences are aligned with your future ambitions. Oftentimes, a mentor is merely looking to pass along his/her knowledge, while experiencing a feeling of satisfaction in helping an associate succeed in return. Look for someone who has gone down a similar path to the one you are seeking and is willing to openly share their experiences.

It’s also important for you to feel comfortable with your mentor. After all, the relationship has to be open and honest in order to be effective. When establishing a mentoring relationship, always be upfront about your expectations and ambitions. Let your mentor know where you are trying to go with your career and business, as well as what drives you.

It’s up to you to develop the relationship.  Take the initiative to schedule meetings, set goals and ask questions. You’ll want the relationship to be somewhat casual, allowing for a free flow of thoughts and ideas. Be sure to listen to your mentor’s ideas and be willing to try some of what he/she recommends.

David Garrison, CEO of Verestar Communications and a mentor to Mack Tilling, CEO of Instill Corp., shared his experience as a mentor with Fast Company:

Believe in the Business. One of the reasons that Garrison agreed to become Tilling’s mentor was because he appreciated Instill’s business model. “You have to believe in the business. Otherwise, you’re helping to train an athlete in a race that goes nowhere.”

 Make sure you Share Values. Garrison was pleased about becoming friends with Tilling. “We have connected on a personal level and he is a delight. He’s a great human being, very smart and fun to be with.” Although Garrison doesn’t think that mentors need to be best friends with their mentees, he does think that both partners should feel simpatico on some level.

Understand the Rewards. As CEO and board member at two other companies, Garrison is busy, but he says being a mentor to Tilling has been deeply rewarding. “If you can help people develop a skill set, then you can take immense personal satisfaction when they do a good job. In a board setting, you are one of seven to 10 people, as opposed to being in a one-on-one situation.” In a mentoring situation, he says, the question is, “How can I help this person train himself to be even more of a winner?”

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