The Personality Trait That Puts You at a Competitive Disadvantage

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dan Solin

I spent almost two years doing research for my book, The Smartest Sales Book You’ll Ever Read. In that time, I read hundreds of academic studies and books on persuasion. I have given countless workshops, speeches and individual coaching sessions for evidence-based advisors. Here’s what I have learned.

The “Solin method” for converting prospects into clients works. And it’s a radical departure from the norm. It involves, counterintuitively, less work by the advisor, no selling and very little presenting. That’s where I have run into trouble with advisors who exhibit a particular personality trait.

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by feelings of grandiosity and self-importance, a need for admiration, a conviction of being special or unique and – most significantly – a lack of empathy. Narcissists are often arrogant and haughty in their relationships with others, who they believe are inferior to them.

As with most personality disorders, there is a wide range of narcissistic behaviors. In my experience with advisors, the one constant is the belief that it’s “all about me.”

In clinical settings, 2-16% is diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Most narcissists (between 50% and 75%) are men, which will come as no surprise to many women.

I have dealt with many narcissistic advisors. I don’t know if the percentage of narcissists among investment advisors is greater than in the general population, but I would not be surprised if it was.

Investment advisors and narcissism

It’s quite easy for investment advisors (especially male advisors) to be perceived as narcissists, whether or not they actually meet the clinical criteria. For example, they have expertise, which may cause them to feel superior to prospects and clients. If an advisor has achieved success, this may reinforce his or her belief that he or she is unique.