Why you work is becoming as important as what you do

Alex Palumbo was working as a frustrated advisor at an insurance brokerage, just a year or so out of school, when we first met him two and a half years ago (thanks Bill Singer!).

He is now managing a booming clientele, practicing wealth management as a fiduciary and a month away from completing his Certified Financial Planner degree. He’s had hundreds of conversations with prospective clients over the last 30 months, while the average advisor in their mid-twenties is still in a support role or a “biz dev” role (cold calling) somewhere.

I know advisors in their 40’s who haven’t amassed the business he has in such a short time. He is, for all intents and purposes, a superstar. The confidence with which he carries himself into every meeting, the command he has of our investment philosophy, the work ethic – if I could clone him, I would.

We talked about his experience building up his client base and what it took to find success. Alex credits the fact that he finally believes in what he’s doing, after having spent time at a firm where he didn’t believe in the service or the products at all. I have a similar story, as I wrote about in the book Backstage Wall Street. Except Alex is smarter than me – it took me ten years to figure this out, and for him just one or two years.

Alex needed a Why, not just a What or a How Much in order to find himself in the working world. This is increasingly becoming the case for young people of his generation. There are very big economic implications inherent in this new reality. There are implications for companies and organizations in every industry, especially in areas like finance and investing which have gotten their fair share of bad press in recent years. Clients care about the Why and employees do too.


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